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Entrepreneur calls out censorship by Economy Minister, threatens to divulge ‘personal interests’

Economy Minister Silvio Schembri with Prime Minister Robert Abela. Photo: DOI/Jason Borg

A German national and entrepreneur in Malta who founded a coworking community for digital nomads, is accusing Economy Minister Silvio Schembri of ‘censorship’ after the latter deactivated the comments and reviews on his social media page following an avalanche of harsh criticism.

Schembri closed his Facebook page’s ‘reviews’ function after foreigners residing in Malta called out his “racism” and “xenophobia” and reminded him they contributed to the economy. It is the silencing of this criticism that the entrepreneur is slamming as censorship.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Schembri said that foreigners, more specifically third country nationals, who lose their jobs will be deported, saying “charity begins at home”. 

Schembri had made a public announcement on Wednesday, in which he apologised and backtracked on his comments, calling his own choice of words “unfortunate”.

Silvio Schembri’s Facebook page receiving negative reviews following his comments in parliament

Yet, while Schembri said the government would not be terminating any permits of third-country nationals in employment, nothing has been said since about stopping the deportation of third country nationals who lost their jobs.

In a public video posted on Facebook on Friday, the entrepreneur who goes by the name of ‘Daniel Go’ on social media, appealed to the Minister to stop the deportation of “thousands of vulnerable humans from Malta” and threatened to divulge the Minister’s personal interests in making Malta a Blockchain Island unless Schembri answers to the demands. 

“We are not afraid of repression or the ‘Malta effect’, at all,” he said, reminding Schembri that he is entitled to freedom of speech, a clear jibe at the comment removal on Facebook.

“If you fail to deliver… we will share our idea of your personal involvement and interest during the times when your idea was to make Malta a Blockchain Island, and why there was so much force behind you,” the entrepreneur said in the video.

He went on to slam Schembri, accusing him of having “zero values” and of not “respecting the most basic human dignity and human rights”. “The mask has fallen.”

He accused Schembri of treating third country nationals as “toilet paper”. “They were the backbone during the times of economic growth, fuelled by European money… and now you spit them out?”

He reminded Schembri that he was referring to people who call Malta their home and have family and friends on the islands.

“In times like this, we should help each other. You as a politician should do what you are supposed to do, minimising the economic crisis ahead of us instead of dividing us by race and fuelling hate,” he added.

He demanded that Schembri reaches out to third party nationals again and console them by telling them they were safe in Malta and will be taken care of.

Schembri’s remarks on Tuesday were slammed by thousands of foreign workers who live in the country. Many pointed out that they have chosen Malta to live and have helped to support the economy, of which Schembri is Minister, flourish. Many agreed the apology given by Schembri the next day was not sufficient.

A damming open letter addressed to Schembri, by the same individual, is being widely shared by the expat forums online.

The letter says that since Schembri is the Economy Minister, he should have realised the fragility of the economy and its dependency on incoming foreigners who leave their money in Malta as tourists or expats.

“It mainly depends on incoming foreigners leaving their money on your island as tourists, or expats who settle in Malta to power your shady gambling industries, to fuel your inhumane free real estate market, which is about to collapse, as the influx of foreign money paying the mortgages of Maltese landlords was just being cut off,” the letter reads.

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