It was the best of times, then they wanted to dispose of foreign workers | Iggy Fenech

    Silvio schembri

    Less than 24 hours after Silvio Schembri said that Malta’s government was thinking of deporting third-country nationals who lose their jobs once the COVID-19 situation has begun to subside. The man has had to backtrack on his word.

    I mean, this could have been funny but it’s really not: here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, worried about our loved ones, our health, and whether we’ll have a job in a few months’, or even weeks’, time, and then Silvio Schembri goes and makes an announcement like that only to have to go into full-throttle reverse.

    Crazy times we live in indeed… Yet, I’m sorry, but we hadn’t all collectively hit our heads and developed amnesia just because there’s a pandemic.

    Foreigners have been invaluable (underscored; bold; italics) to Malta’s economy, which every official outlet assures us had been nothing but booming before this began. They have contributed in so many ways that they would be impossible to list, but I’ll mention some of the most important:

    • they are the ones Maltese people have engaged en masse to take care of their elderly relatives and young children;
    • they are the ones who literally kick-started the iGaming industry in Malta;
    • they are the ones serving us beverages in cafés and our meals in restaurants;
    • they are the ones picking up our rubbish;
    • they are the ones who have been used to build the ghastly blocks of fletsijiet so Maltese contractors can fatten their pockets;
    • and that’s not to mention all the nurses, doctors, engineers, architects, EFL teachers, and many others.

    I remember a time when Maltese people were renowned for taking foreigners by the hand and showing them to their destination when they got lost, but somehow the government felt comfortable enough to threaten those who have contributed to Maltese society and taxes with deportation at such an uneasy and unsure period in our history!

    When did we become a country that views human beings as disposable commodities? And how in the world can we still think this way at a time when our mortality and our humanity are laid bare before us as we see our neighbours die by their thousands and we wait for our turn to arrive?

    Also, how short-sighted can this government actually be? How did they propose we rebuild our economy once this pandemic is over? Did they think that after they’d kick out the people who were essential to building our economy in the first place, others would have flocked to come here?

    They wouldn’t have, not when Malta has bulldozed over legality, sanity, morality and kindness for so long.

    • Have you forgotten how we allowed contractors to pay migrants peanuts for their hard work in the construction industry?
    • Have you forgotten how we turned our country into a rathole devoid of greenery and clean air and charged the Earth for people to live in hovels?
    • Have you forgotten how our disgraced ex-Prime Minister told Maltese people that he hoped the rubbish would only be picked up by foreigners?
    • Have you forgotten how we were told that without foreigners Maltese people wouldn’t get their pensions?
    • Have you forgotten how we allowed corruption to seep into every nook and cranny of this Godforsaken land and put foreign businesses that had invested millions in jeopardy?
    • Have you forgotten how we sold our passports to the wealthy but dodgy foreigners, but made fools of honest ones?

    You know, maybe the government should take this backtrack as a lesson: no matter how good or how bad we have it, we must protect all people from being used, abused and disposed of.

    Now, go home and stop spreading more ridiculousness. The virus is already bad enough.