Greed, politicians’ behaviour, racism… President sounds stark warnings
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Greed, politicians’ behaviour, racism… President sounds stark warnings

'No to deportation of migrants'

  • Stop using social media to 'spread hate'
  • Lack of open spaces impoverishing lives
  • Calls for increase in minimum wage
  • People before profit, buildings...

The behaviour of politicians in Malta was worrying, the President said today, as she warned against the mounting threats of greed, racism, increasing poverty and the dwindling environment.

In a departure from the somewhat standard presidential speeches, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca used the Republic Day investiture ceremony to speak against the ills of Maltese society.

“Material shortcomings, social exclusion, the threat to the quality of life resulting in development which is not always sustainable; the overcrowding of residential areas; the limitation of public spaces; noise and traffic delays; and the scarcity of honesty and truth in political life, are among the issues of concern.”

During the past 12 months, tension in Malta has increased and those “regarded as alien”, continued to flourish, she said in an admonishing speech against online demagoguery and hate speech.

I must say that I am sincerely concerned about the behaviour of politicians in our country

Addressing the dignitaries who gathered at the Palace, President Coleiro-Preca did not mince her words:

“I must say that I am sincerely concerned about the behaviour of politicians in our country,” said the former Social Policy Minister.

Children and youths are voicing their disappointment at the way our politicians are behaving towards each other, setting bad examples when they should be role models.

The situation was so bad that it was forcing valid people to shy away from public service.

"Unrestrained partisanship and populism lower the esteem that should be shown towards politics… Unrestrained partisanship and populism cause rifts among people, instead of being an instrument of unity and respect towards diversity."

Whatever achievements politicians managed to attain, whatever laws they strove to enact for the benefit of all, were soon shot down through a smear campaign of accusations and counter-accusations, calling of names, insinuations, digging into personal lives and mudslinging.

But it was also "morally and ethically unacceptable" that sections of the traditional media, bloggers and individuals were making use of social media to attack the private lives of persons and their family to appease some people and generate hate, she said. 

Freedom of expression does not give the right to threaten anyone's human rights, including respect for family life, and to privacy.

Social media is being used to attack the private lives of people, the President said.Social media is being used to attack the private lives of people, the President said.

"As a nation, we cannot accept such obscenity. It is disgraceful for any person doing it."

She reiterated her appeal to all political parties, public entities and all people of goodwill, to dissociate themselves publicly from these individuals.

"I also wish that everyone would think about and reflect before believing every word that is reported on the media... We need to invest much more in media education, not only for children and young people, but also for adults."

Dr Coleiro-Preca, a champion for migrants' rights, said she believed Malta should continue to host all those who live among us, or those who come to visit us, with the utmost love and respect.

The comment is seen as a direct criticism of the government's recent decision to deport a number of African migrants who had been living in Malta for a number of years.

“I am morally convinced that we should appreciate, and not condemn, persons who are helping to build our prosperity, and who form part of our society, by sending them back.”

In reference to the deluge of racist online comments, she insisted Malta should not tolerate any manifestation of hatred, internal conflict or the domination of one culture over another.

If we are going to protest, we will protest against xenophobia, racism, social exclusion and the exploitation of workers for profit

“If we are going to protest, we will protest against xenophobia, racism, social exclusion and the exploitation of workers for profit. If we are going to celebrate, we will applaud the increase of civil rights, laws which are less discriminatory, laws which protect a life of quality; which safeguard human dignity; and which promote economic, cultural and social inclusion as well as equal opportunities for all.”

“Those who present demographic and economic reasons normally make provision for a calm, mature and reasoned debate. But the same cannot be said for those who embrace racist views,” she told those present at the Palace.

While applauding the economic progress in Malta, she noted with regret that a considerable number of families are still struggling to make ends meet.

"It is immoral to reduce people who have always worked hard and those who genuinely are not able to work, to the brink of poverty or to a perpetual state of destitution."

She added that exploitation should have no roots in a truly ethical and moral structure, and therefore correct practice in this sector calls for the exploitation of these workers to be seriously condemned by the competent authorities.

The President said she hoped that the public dialogue and discussions on the minimum wage will lead to concrete action shortly. The precarious worker, living in a state of constant uncertainty, cannot wait any longer.

She said it was unacceptable that women are not paid the same wage as their male counterparts for the same line of work.

Statistics by Eurostat indicate that the difference in wage for the same work between women and men is 11 per cent lower for women.

She insisted it is the State’s obligation to ensure that the citizens of this country have access to habitable spaces with social rates. As the burden on individuals and families in this sector continues to increase, the competent authorities should step up the projects of new buildings as well as the refurbishment of existing buildings for social accommodation.

'Not every legal development can be considered acceptable in the light of quality of life and protection of biodiversity.''Not every legal development can be considered acceptable in the light of quality of life and protection of biodiversity.'

President Coleiro Preca also spoke in detail about the threat of unbridled construction, stressing that not every legal development can be considered as acceptable development in the light of quality of life and the protection of biodiversity.

“I am convinced that the tension in the environment sector would be greatly reduced if dialogue and the quality of our life, and that of future generations, are put at the centre of the planning and development process.

Children constantly complain about the lack of open spaces where they can play and that this has impoverished their lives. Children also share their concerns regarding air pollution from traffic emissions as well as noise pollution.

If we persist on this trajectory, future generations will not pay us homage. We cannot continue to enjoy the present moment with complete disregard to the rights of future generations.

“Therefore, I appeal for diligence and integrity in the planning sector and for the absolute recognition that people come before profits.”

Read the speech in full by clicking the pdf below.

 

Attached files

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