Fit-Times tal-lum deheru żewġ ittri — “Sustaining ties with the Maltese diaspora” — waħda minn Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, President tal-Partit Laburista u oħra minn Albert Cilia-Vincenti, Chairman tal-Alleanza tal-Organizzazzjonijiet tal-Pensjonanti.
Din l-ittra tal-President tal-Partit Laburista (l-ittra kienet deheret ukoll bħala artiklu f’maltastar.com):
The Convention for Maltese Living Abroad was a welcome opportunity to sustain ties and nourish the Maltese “flame” that glows around the world. It was a particular event where we met representatives of Maltese communities and associations abroad and shared in their pride of their Maltese origin that blends comfortably with their loyalty and commitment to their country of adoption. It was, therefore, a delight to host a session of the convention at the National Labour Centre when we shared Labour’s views on how we may together further strengthen existing ties and translate these ties into exciting projects.It was also a time when ideas and suggestions flowed on how we can best implement the recommendations of the convention as well as the recommendations of the convention held 10 years ago. It is more than evident that there exists a unique opportunity to channel our own energies and those of Maltese and Maltese communities world-wide into a range of win-win initiatives ranging from the promotion of tourism to that of financial and other services. Any efforts to develop the potential of this energy have, to date, been sporadic. Efforts lacked persistency and a creative edge that is necessary to translate synergies into exhilarating ventures.
The nature of Maltese mobility is today changing constantly. On the one hand we have second- and third-generation Maltese having their awareness of their Maltese origins diluted with the passage of time. Here we still have unique opportunities to nurture reciprocal ties. Once again, we seem to have lacked a commitment to value such opportunities and to foster a favourable climate that promotes and facilitates healthy interaction. On the other hand, we have increasing mobility that sees Maltese moving to other locations, both in Europe and beyond, seeking new work and living experiences.
This is an excellent opportunity, for our collective being, to come to better appreciate our own heritage and identity as part of a “global community”. The experience garnered may also rid us of suffocating conservative elements that may hinder our development into a more tolerant and all-inclusive society. This mobility makes basic demands on us such as the need to optimise links between Malta and the rest of the world. It is as challenging to sustain a climate that keeps these Maltese as connected to Malta as possible.
Small can indeed be beautiful. One advantage is that we can work smarter in order to succeed in improving our social and economic status. We cannot miss a single opportunity. Keeping excellent ties with our fellow Maltese abroad and forging better relations as a result of this ongoing relation is surely a way to provide Malta and Gozo with strong visibility in a highly competitive global marketplace. This visibility is a basic pre-requisite if we are to attract a wider range of both cultural and business opportunities so that our successes may spread to most, if not all, sectors of our society.
U din l-ittra tac-Chariman tal-Alleanza tal-Organizzazzjonijiet tal-Pensjonanti:
I would like to comment on the much-publicised recent Convention for Maltese Living Abroad, based on my own quarter-century migrant’s experience in southern England, and my observations of other migrants. In my view, the crux of the problem that comes across in the media reporting of this convention is one of lack of integration by some Maltese in their new homeland – if after some 60 years in Australia you still feel Australia is a foreign land and that home is Malta, then obviously you never integrated in Australian society.
This lack of integration can be blamed on illiteracy, but there must also be an underlying strong element of obstinacy not to open up oneself to the reality of a new homeland and new friends, and to the fact that some genuine friends may actually turn out to be more helpful than family. If one is locked into a mentality that the confines of one’s existence are solely within one’s home and family, then no doubt one risks ending up in isolation when the offspring fly the nest.
On the other hand, I know of Maltese migrants who are so well integrated in their new homeland that they would never dream of returning to live in Malta. I know of some others who returned to live in Malta but left again for their new homeland after a few years here – presumably they found out that reality was somewhat different from nostalgic imagery. I also know of some migrants from continental Europe who have not only become fluent in English, but also in Maltese, in their efforts to integrate into their new Maltese homeland.
Integration, therefore, depends very much on the individual. Some Maltese unfortunately have a negative mentality, blaming all untoward happenings on everything else except themselves, instead of trying to find a solution with a positive attitude.
I wonder how acquainted Maltese in Australia are with the realities of the Maltese state’s provisions for its pensioners and elderly. Are they aware that there are several hundred elderly on the waiting lists of Maltese public sector old peoples’ homes, and that the cost of private nursing homes is out of the majority’s reach? Are they aware of how low Maltese pensions are, and that official statistics indicate that around 22 per cent of our over-65s are at risk of poverty? Are they aware that we also have elderly living in solitude and isolation in Malta?
Are they aware that Maltese migrants returning to work in Malta, and Maltese formerly employed by the British Services, have had their Maltese pension (calculated on the basis of their Maltese national insurance contributions) severely reduced, or practically totally abolished, because a Maltese Pension Law of the late 1970s punishes them for having a service/occupational pension from a foreign country, and that this scandalous state-imposed injustice goes against the spirit of free-movement of labour (and their respective pensions) within the EU?
Maltese in Australia would do well to take what politicians tell them with a pinch of salt, and not let nostalgia for Maltese festa petards go to their heads.