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Meet Malta’s New President: Fiery George Vella Speaks Hidden Poverty, Gender Inequality And Daphne Caruana Galizia

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Malta got its first taste of its new president this afternoon, when George Vella delivered a fiery speech which touched on everything from social justice and national unity to gender inequality and overdevelopment.

These are some of the highlights from his inaugural speech:

1. On social justice and hidden poverty

“We should aim to achieve the just and equitable distribution of the fruits of this economic well-being, and see to it that the burdens of leadership and social responsibility are shared by everyone, depending on the possibilities of each individual.”

“The classical concept of charity barely has a place in contemporary society. I am firmly of the belief that help is to be provided by way of right, and not as an act of charity or favour.”

“At the same time, we cannot allow ourselves to think that, thanks to our country’s remarkable economic performance, there is no material poverty among our citizens.”

“This is indeed a challenge, and I take it upon myself to keep up the attention placed on those in need, by my predecessor H.E. President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.”

“It is my belief that the best interests of the individual, the safeguarding of social rights and the quality of life should prevail – for both Maltese and foreign workers – as well as for the migrants we are under obligation to welcome among us.”

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2. On multiculturalism

“We proudly – and rightly so – boast of a multicultural society, one that is more liberal and espouses values beyond our traditional ones. We should, however, be equally proud of the fact that our society is far from amoral.”

“Our society continues to be caring, understanding, supportive, and generous. Of this we have ample examples.”

3. On overdevelopment

“The political aspect of the protection of the environment was my first interest when I was first elected to Parliament in 1978. So many things have changed in the world since then. Yet the size and resources of our country remain unchanged.”

“One major change was the pressure being placed on our natural environment, and the increasing challenges to sustainability.”

“The threat of the ‘built-up’ environment as opposed to the ‘natural’ environment is all the more evident, and is becoming more apparent.”

“During the course of this Presidency, I will be recommending rigorous adherence to regulations and scrupulous decision-making in the interest of sustainability, and our ultimate obligations towards future generations. This will not only apply to the built-up environment, but also to air quality, marine pollution, and other measures that counter rising global temperatures.”

4. On gender inequality

“We need to fortify women’s position in society and in the workplace. In this particular field, we have to guarantee those rights, which remain elusive to women to this very day, and without which gender inequality will continue to prevail.”

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5. On social media

“Much as I value the outstanding contribution made by social media to human exchanges, also in support of freedom of expression, I yearn for less abuses on these means of communication, where I have the impression that norms and restrictions otherwise implemented on printed media and broadcasting do not always apply.”

“This definitely does not contribute to national unity.”

6. On respecting national symbols

“We need to introduce anew, a genuine respect towards our national symbols. Respect towards the Maltese flag and everything it represents. Respect towards our national anthem. Respect towards our national language. Respect towards our history and cultural heritage. Respect towards our Constitutional structures and our laws. Above all, respect for the Supreme Laws governing our country as embodied in the Constitution of Malta.”

“These are the foundations of national unity.”

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7. On Daphne Caruana Galizia and national unity

“Over the decades, we all have – some more than others – contributed to the development of the splendid country we have today. We are far from perfect, and still have a lot to contribute to leave a better place for upcoming generations. We still have our differences on the way our institutions work and operate, about the rule of law, the powers of administration, and about executive structures.”

“We still carry on our national conscience the black stains of atrocious acts such as the murders of Karin Grech, Raymond Caruana and Mrs Daphne Caruana Galizia. All of this does not befit the peace-loving character of us Maltese.”

“This is the main challenge to which I will dedicate all my energy during my term, and I solemnly vow that, with the cooperation of each and every one of us, I will leave no stone unturned to eradicate these divisions.”

What do you make of George Vella’s comments?

READ NEXT: Now George Vella Is Malta’s New President, Here Are 9 Issues He Should Speak About

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