A hilarious local website exposes the absurd and ridiculous situations witnessed in our country and which, ostensibly, only happen in Malta. From misspelt road markings, ponies transported on the back seat of a small hatchback to a police car driven with steel barriers precariously hanging out of an open boot.
Such things don’t just happen here. But there’s one thing that will soon be truly ‘only in Malta’ – 16-year-old mayors.
That’s right. No other country in the world allows 16-year-olds to become mayors. In fact, nowhere in the world can 16-year-olds become local councillors or MPs. The only other country that comes close is North Korea, which allows 17-year-olds to become members of the Supreme People’s Assembly.
In North Korea, all citizens aged 17 and over must vote. Turnout is always close to 100%, and approval for the governing alliance is unanimous. When it’s your turn to vote, you receive your ballot with only one name on it. You don’t have boxes to tick, nothing to fill, no choice to make. All you have to do is turn up, queue for hours, and deposit your ballot.
Once you leave the polling station, you’re expected to join cheering crowds outside to express your happiness about being allowed to vote for the country’s leadership. What you elect is the Supreme People’s Assembly, which has absolutely no power and serves only as a rubber-stamp for the supreme leader’s whims.
Malta will now allow 16-year-olds to become mayors. And Labour has the totalitarian language to compete with the hilariously named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “The will of the people is sovereign, and I believe the law should never hamper it,” our own supreme leader, Robert Abela, announced.
Of course, he didn’t ask the people whether it is their will for teenagers still in school to become mayors. But he’s the supreme leader. He knows the will of the people. His will is the people’s will.
“Now if somebody doesn’t want a 16-year-old to be mayor, then they are free to choose at the polls. But I don’t think age should be a limiting factor in selecting our candidates. Rather, I think it is a question of maturity that counts,” Abela added.
The United States Constitution requires that presidential candidates must be at least 35 years of age. What’s so magical about 35? Age is obviously no guarantee of maturity or good judgement. Look at Robert Abela and his infantile cabinet – Clayton Bartolo, Silvio Schembri, Ian Borg, Aaron Farrugia, Clint Camilleri, Byron Camilleri, Jonathan Attard, Chris Bonett, Owen Bonnici. But the idea that age brings wisdom, maturity and experience is what the USA’s founding fathers had in mind when they put a minimum age of 35 years as a requirement to contest.
There has been a movement in many countries to let anyone old enough to vote to run for office. France allows 18-year-olds to run for President. Yet the vast majority of countries have set out significantly higher age limits for assuming high office.
In Canada and Brazil, you need to be 35 before you’re allowed to run for the highest office. The same applies in Chile, Iceland and Cyprus. In Germany, you need to be 40 before you can become President. In Italy, you need to be 50. But in every single country in the world, you need to be 18 before taking up any office.
The only exceptions are North Korea and East Timor, where the age is 17. Only in Malta will that minimum age be down to 16.
“It would be contradictory to face young people and tell them that they are the future leaders of our country and then place limitations when they attempt to fill leadership roles,” was Abela’s piece of nonsense.
The key word is “future”. Today’s young people are our “future leaders”. Nobody disputes that. What many reject is that 16-year-olds should be our “current leaders”.
There is nothing contradictory at all in telling your 16-year-old daughter she could be a future pilot. But you certainly wouldn’t want her to fly the aircraft you’re travelling on today.
There’s nothing contradictory in telling your 16-year-old son he’s a future cardiac surgeon. But would you let him open your chest to perform your heart surgery today? Of course not. Because flying a plane and performing open heart surgery are complex tasks. They’re difficult skills to master.
It takes years and years of hard work, discipline and experience to master those skills. We all know that. So, if you wouldn’t let a 16-year-old pilot a commercial aircraft or perform cardiac surgery, why would you dream of allowing them to administer a whole city?
That’s exactly what Robert Abela is doing. “If a young person has the right qualities to lead, then why should the law impede them?” Abela asked.
If Abela genuinely believes a 16-year-old could ever have the skills and qualities for such a role, it’s clear Abela has absolutely no understanding of the complexities and challenges of such roles.
Abela epitomises the Dunning-Kruger effect. The less you know about something, the easier you think it is. And the most inexperienced and the least knowledgeable believe they are the most competent at the role.
Those who don’t know have no clue how much they don’t know.
But Abela must know that being mayor is no joke. He should know it takes considerable skill, experience and competence. He must understand it carries a huge responsibility.
Instead, with unadulterated cynicism, he mounts a naked attempt to win the young vote. And exploits an opportunity to deflect and distract from far more serious issues – such as Labour’s €4 billion euro Vitals fraud.