MaltaToday: Movement
OPINION | Sunday, 20 January 2008



Change presupposes movement.
Change does not happen by itself, there must be an energy, a force that brings it about. The absence of this energy is inertia.
As I discussed last Sunday, change is of essence. So as a people the Maltese have to focus on the force that is going to bring about this change and the direction that these forces will take change. As much as there is change for the better, there is also change for the worse. And we would not want that.

This force can be self generated or it can be external. We can, and should, build up our energy to generate this movement through a sharper vision, through more robust innovation and through a more vigorous executive. Globalisation has been forcing movement upon us as we have to change our perceptions and outlook of competition and redraw our competitive strategies and as we are being confronted with new situations and opportunities of sourcing of resources to develop our activities.

The EU
Membership to the European Movement has also been forcing movement on us as we are constantly confronted with objectives, rules and regulations that pervade nearly all our activity. Some of this is good as it sets the standards and time frames which spur us to move in the right direction and at the right pace. It also gives change a more acceptable aura as it is framed in a bigger picture of the way other peoples are acting successfully.
However we must be wary of some of this imposed force for change as sometimes they do not take into account our peculiarities and special situations which can turn well-intended prodding into a negative force, as they will direct change in a direction that will be destructive of our comparative advantage and therefore damaging to our well being in the medium and long term. We have to resist implementing change just because it is being dictated to us, and build our capability to analyse the implications and repercussions of any suggested changes. We have our limitations. We cannot follow up and analyse all the regulation that is being pushed by the Central Brussels Bureaucracy. But we must put in place an efficient and effective filtering system that prioritises these regulations by their impact on us, and then have the expertise to determine this impact and to negotiate away all negative effect while enhancing the positive thrusts.

Agents of Change
In the final analysis, movement means people. People are the agents of change. And people are organised in the various institutions, in this context we can mention entrepreneurs, civil servants and politicians.
Entrepreneurs are usually good agents for change as their capacity to move is finally measured by bottom-line profitability and therefore determines their survival. They need to keep abreast of the changes that are forced by globalisation and by the EU, and they must generate their own change through vision and innovation which is implement as efficient as their own capability dictates and as bureaucracy allows.
The Civil Service, unfortunately, is by a large inert. It does not promote change. Sometimes Civil Servants resists change as they sees change as pushing them into unchartered waters that can open them to situations which they would not have hermetically sealed against accountability. This is why the public is faced with archaic processes and procedures that do not reflect current situations that have evolved in the productive world.
Politicians should be the big generators of movements. Politicians who have a civil service mentality, or who have been dominated by the civil service, or who have been domesticated to the civil service regime cannot operate efficiently.

People’s choice
The people need politicians with a vision who can see new objectives and chart new initiatives. This is the basic energy for change.
The people needs politicians with a strong character and guts who are not afraid or intimidated but who proceed with implementing their vision even in the face of defamation and misinformed criticism.
This is the choice. In entrusting politicians with their lives for the next five years, the people have to choose shepherds and not sheep, the people have to judge on track records of change – positive, negative – or inertia.
It is the people’s choice, as it is the people’s lives that will be affected.


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