Watch this clip of historian Simon Mercieca on national TV last Monday. The show was discussing Adrian Delia. Simon Mercieca, a big fan, was looking for reasons why Adrian Delia was not much loved. And he came up with this.
Let’s leave aside the absurdity of the notion that anyone needed to pay money so that people realise Adrian Delia is not fit for purpose. It’s not his work ethic, his policy flip-flops, his personality disorders, the alienation of his colleagues, the lies he was caught in, the criminal investigations into his past conduct and his continued relationship with a notorious briber of politicians, later to be accused of being a killer of the journalist Adrian Delia politely described in a calm and collected speech as ‘biċċa blogger’. None of that is why Adrian Delia is not considered the best thing since sliced bread.
For Simon Mercieca none of that is enough to cause Adrian Delia political problems. The most logical explanation according to this PhD from Sorbonne is money from unspecified and unnamed obscure “foreigners” paying unspecified and unnamed “NGOs” to bring subversion to the country.
Since Simon Mercieca was unlikely referring to the Qrendi Boċċi Club or the San Lawrenz Horticultural Society the question needs to be asked. Was he by any chance referring to Repubblika? l-orizzont seem to think so. They sent me questions today demanding I respond as blogger on this website to Simon Mercieca’s accusation that I am funded from indħil barrani.
Is Simon Mercieca thinking that someone outside the country was needed to fund my writing or Repubblika’s campaigns? Did he not imagine that there would be enough people locally ready to donate to the cause and what we do?
Not that it is of any surprise, but this defence of Adrian Delia is automatically by extension a defence of Joseph Muscat. If anyone outside paid NGOs to fund their criticism of Adrian Delia, clearly the money to pay for the NGOs’ criticism of Joseph Muscat came from the same source. It is uncanny that any line of defence of Adrian Delia, however outrageous, ends up benefiting the Labour Party. Silvio Parnis knows a thing or two about that.
For the avoidance of doubt, there was no funding from outside the country paid into Repubblika’s campaigning. None was necessary, none was asked for, none was offered. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, in reality, very few people living outside Malta care if we choose crooks and clowns for our political leaders. People outside of Malta start getting interested in our political affairs when our politicians licence international banks to break the international banking system and launder money for international criminals. They have other ways of dealing with that problem. Giving money to Repubblika is not one of them.
Having said all that, so what if local NGOs get funding support from outside Malta? What of it? Why is this something Simon Mercieca is “scared” of?
There are international NGOs that support local partners in their democratic campaigns. They are the lifeline of what is left of democracy movements in Russia or China or Hungary or places with varying degrees of oppression and tyranny. The tyrants that rule those countries speak of ‘foreign interference’ as collaboration in treason. They criminalise free speech and work to cut the funding of protest and dissent when local funding is near impossible.
Funding of protest in Malta is becoming harder. Labour Party media identifies people who own or operate businesses that openly support protesters and identify them for boycotts and retribution. That is enough to create a chilling effect on donors who hold back from funding causes they support for fear of their business partners, shareholders and employees suffering consequences for their political opinions.
Even so it is a surprise to hear on national TV a proto-fascist like Simon Mercieca speaking about his fear of foreign interference as if that was even a thing. And it is almost comical that he wasn’t speaking about the spectacular wealth of the Labour Party in the 2013 and 2017 elections but he was instead speaking about NGOs who led marches in the street.
The words ‘foreign interference’ remind people of Mintoff’s regime that banned outside funding of any political activities in Malta in 1982. That same law was used to ban TV broadcasts from Sicily of content by the Nationalist Party forcing Richard Muscat into exile.
But the Foreign Interference Act is still part of our laws. It is still criminal to accept funding from outside the country to conduct anything the government would describe as political within Malta. Unless you get the permission of the Minister. How likely is that?
So, in reality the question Simon Mercieca should be asking is not whether NGOs got foreign funding to show Adrian Delia with his trousers around his ankles. They didn’t. The real question is what would be wrong with that?