Oliver Scicluna, Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability and soon-to-be co-opted MP, called for a change in the way Malta views disabilities in his first political address since being recommended for the role.
He spoke about his past, his upbringing, and how he will work hard with Prime Minister Robert Abela and the government – but will also be critical and immediately let him know wherever he disagrees.
“I don’t want to play the martyr, or the role of ‘miskin‘,” Scicluna said in a strong debut address. “I am a person with disability – I was born with spina bifida, and my family were shocked when they first saw me… they didn’t know what would become of me.”
“I was operated on soon after I was born, allowing me to live – but I know that many times in similar situations, parents take the advice not to undergo the operation, and their problems are buried with the baby,” he said, thanking his parents for giving him a chance.
“My parents chose the difficult route,” he said.
Saying politics was a “constant battle between red and blue,” he noted that he was raised by a Labourite family in Cottonera, and saw firsthand that having a disability didn’t just affect him, but also his family and all those around him.
“I learnt that disability doesn’t just affect me – my family also faced prejudices. Friends, this is not just my story, but the story of my family and all those who experience something similar in silence,” he said.
In light of his personal experiences growing up, he pledged to focus on this sector and to change prejudices and ideas about what it means to live with a disability.
“I pledge my entire energy to the service of the Maltese people, no matter what their political beliefs are,” he said, noting that it wasn’t just about donating some money here or there, but to honestly change the way Malta views disability.