De­layed in­for­ma­tion is equiv­a­lent to de­nied in­for­ma­tion

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

Our sum­mer, now thank­fully over, is a long sum­mer, and our par­lia­men­tary sum­mer is even longer. Par­lia­ment is due to re­sume af­ter the Sum­mer Re­cess to­day fort­night.

It will maybe be at that time that the prime min­is­ter will feel he must in­form the House and the coun­try about the many vis­its and the many meet­ings he has taken part in over the past months.

But that will be too late to prop­erly in­form the coun­try about in­ter­na­tional events and their im­pact on Malta. The coun­try has been starved of vi­tal and timely in­for­ma­tion.

Pro­vid­ing that in­for­ma­tion now, when Par­lia­ment re­sumes, and in the man­ner that par­lia­men­tary state­ments are made and ques­tions an­swered, is a dis­ser­vice to the whole na­tion.

We have had in this in­ter­val, the prime min­is­ter tak­ing part in the Athens sum­mit, then in the Bratislava one. That’s as re­gards the EU.

Lately there has been the trip to the UN, the

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meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Obama, the in­vest­ment by Crane Cur­rency and var­i­ous bi­lat­eral meet­ings.

It used to be the tra­di­tion that the prime min­is­ter takes a posse of re­porters with him to such trips and takes time to an­swer their ques­tions. This has now been down­graded to a pho­tog­ra­pher and one or two re­porters only.

There used to be a time when the head of gov­ern­ment held reg­u­lar press con­fer­ences – un­til some ag­gres­sive tac­tics by the Labour me­dia (in­clud­ing fol­low­ing the prime min­is­ter with cam­era rolling into a lift) put paid to that.

So all that Joe Pub­lic has is a picture or two and a syco­phan­tic re­port by a hand-picked jour­nal­ist or re­porter.

There are in­nu­mer­able ques­tions that the pub­lic would want to ask re­gard­ing Malta’s stance at Athens and in Bratislava. All the pub­lic has been given was a turgid press re­lease af­ter the Bratislava sum­mit which went un­re­ported, and which should have led to more ques­tions than an­swers. As for the UN, we have the UN speech but noth­ing about the meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Obama – which leads to the sus­pi­cion that this was just a photo-op for the prime min­is­ter and his con­sort.

Now in a fort­night’s time, if we are lucky, we will have more in­for­ma­tion, hop­ing that by then it will not be too late.

This ad­min­is­tra­tion has not gone out of its way to make it­self avail­able to the me­dia. On the con­trary, it dis­dains meet­ing them on a level play­ing field. Its press re­leases are many times mere copies of the speeches that were made.

Granted that in a po­larised coun­try such as ours, a sec­tion of the me­dia will al­ways be an­tag­o­nis­tic and out to trip the speaker up, but this does not mean that all the me­dia is like that. Or that it is in any way prefer­able to starve the pub­lic from the in­for­ma­tion the pub­lic has a right to.

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