A regular meeting between President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and the National Youth Parliament at the Grandmasters’ Palace earlier today ended up with a youth going off script. In a short speech, the youth urged the President to do more to fight government corruption.
The speech of the 20-year-old youth, who wants to remain anonymous, is being reproduced in full below:
I thank you for once again inviting youths to speak with you. What I am about to say is not in the National Youth Council’s name, but in my own name – a 20-year-old student from Birkirkara.
Your Excellency, I am speaking to you because I believe that you – just like I – believe in social democracy; that you believe in a society which fights for the downtrodden and which doesn’t increase the privileges of the powerful.
My forefathers worked hard for every penny they had. My great-grandfather from my mother’s side was a tile layer and his son used to bring water to people’s houses before landing a job as a civil servant. My great-grandfather from my father’s side was a church artist, and his son was a doctor. The women in my family all worked day and night to give their children the best lives possible.
It is ordinary people like these, Madame President, who had built the party which is now in government. My grandparents have voted for the Labour Party all their lives, even during the dark and ugly years of the 1980s, because they believed in the values of a workers’ party.
“However this party has now changed, and it has changed for the worse. The movement that won power four years ago has turned into a customer service organisation that helps powerful people succeed in life. What example does that give youths, your Excellency? That political contacts are more important than personal merit if you want to succeed. That people who evade tax through offshore companies are winners, and that people who pay for healthcare, social services and schools through their taxes are stupid people.
The example we are being given is that those who reveal uncomfortable truths get denigrated or killed, while those who trade their dignity for the government’s benefit are provided with power, money and favours. That the environment, the Gozo hospital, Maltese citizenship, even justice itself are nothing but products with a price-tag. To be clear, the refugees we are speaking about today are nothing – dust – compared with the money of Leonid Korotkov and Ibrahim Waleed Alibrahim, who have bought Maltese passports. This is the social policy of the current government.
Your Excellency, perhaps you believe it is pragmatic to self-censor and state that the rule of law solely boils down to belief in our institutions. Perhaps you believe that the truth can be revealed if you are striving towards a goal. Your Excellency, I know that you hold the poor and downtrodden close to your heart, but keep in mind that honesty is the most precious thing you can give honest people.
Your job isn’t only about collecting money and visiting people, but also about striving towards of human dignity by telling us the truth. If you abdicate this responsibility, you won’t only be failing me, who has been lucky in life and has never suffered from hunger. You will also be failing my grandfather, who knows what true hunger is like and who worked and struggled to give my mother a better life and who still believes in the workers’ movement that safeguards his grandchildren.
President Coleiro Preca reacted by outlining the limitations to her power since the Presidency does not have an executive function. She said the President’s powers emerged from Article 85 of the Constitution.
“I have always seen my function as one that has strong, moral responsibility. Where there has been the need, I have spoken up. I have not remained silent, but it is up to the media to carry my voice and I face a s situation where the media is very selective about me,” she said, adding that the focus has always been the Malta Community Chest Fund which only accounts for five per cent of her work.