NEWS Malta’s Parliament yesterday unanimously approved two motions, the first expressing appreciation for outgoing President George Abela’s service during his term of office as head of State, and the second formally confirming the choice of Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca as the ninth President of the Republic of Malta.
In her last address as Family Minister, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said that being appointed President of the Republic is the most difficult contribution she would ever be tasked with in her life. She thanked the electorate of the sixth district for having elected her to parliament for the first time 16 years ago.
“Politicians should always be at the service of citizens,” she said.
She said that the new role is a heavy responsibility.
“This is a population who is capable of tolerating and respecting others but at times we may see darkness which may lead to us not viewing things clearly.
“I believe that the road to tackle the challenges which lay ahead is joining hands and combating them together,” she said.
Globalisation is bringing a change in society, diversity in cultures, and our mentality.
“I will do my utmost to ensure that everyone appreciates diversity; we have to accept that we have different opinions and beliefs but we all remain Maltese and Gozitans.”
She said that she will continue to pursue her passion of working to help individuals facing social-related issues.
“The psycho-social sector hosts an array of new professionals which is developing into sub specialities,” she said, “and therefore it is vital that youths are encouraged to become social workers for instance”.
She said that she holds children dear to her heart, adding that she has worked endlessly to help children at the risk of poverty.
She lauded the report titled Listening to the Child in Care, conducted by the specially set-up National Commission for Child Policy and Strategy.
Quoting excerpts of touching interviews conducted with children placed under care orders, such as ‘they came and took me away’, she said that health professionals helping children do a great job but it is the politicians who have to change systems in the interest of children.
An emotionally sounding Coleiro Preca lauded the fact that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that unaccompanied child migrants will not be kept in detention centres, adding that these children face massive hurdles trying to seek pastures new, referring to child migrant flows arriving on our shores, “only to end up behind cages”, referring to detention centres.
She assured all that she will not engage in partisan politics, I love my country,” she said.
She thanked the ministry’s secretariat and public service officials for working hard to help change things to the better. She also thanked the Opposition and its leader Dr Simon Busuttil.
PM’s tribute to Dr Abela
Proposing his first motion, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat paid tribute to and thanked Dr Abela for his sterling work as “President of our country”. He said that it results that then prime minister Lawrence Gonzi’s decision to nominate Dr Abela as President was a good one. It is a fact that Dr Abela was everybody’s President, said Dr Muscat.
Dr Muscat said that his presidency will be remembered, adding that his contributions and new initiatives helped collect more than 15 million euros in aid of charity over a five-year period, by means of the Community Chest Fund.
Dr Muscat noted that Dr Abela was an inspiration to many.
“Dr Abela’s presidency wasn’t a bed of roses, and there were times when he was tasked to take a decision and take a stand,” Dr Muscat said.
Opposition leader’s tribute to Dr Abela
On his part, Dr Simon Busuttil thanked Dr Abela for his work during the last five years.
“I must say that Dr Abela’s presidency started as an experiment but ended up being a successful one,” he said, adding that this was an experiment since for the first time in Malta’s history, a President was nominated from the opposing camp.
He lauded Dr Abela for his charisma which helped unite the nation.
Dr Busuttil took the opportunity to pay tribute to then prime minister Lawrence Gonzi who put partisan politics aside and appointed Dr Abela.
“Dr Abela made the palace he resided in a public space for members of the public to enjoy,” he said.
Dr Busuttil said that Dr Abela managed to transform passions of his, such as sport, into innovative ideas to help better the quality of life of Maltese and Gozitans alike, referring to the record funds collected by the Community Chest Fund.
PM’s address on Coleiro Preca presidency
On Ms Coleiro Preca’s nomination as President, Dr Muscat thanked the Opposition for showing its will to approve her as President – “a much-deserved appointment”.
“This conveys a message of unity, even if at times both sides of the House can be relentless towards each other,” he said.
Dr Muscat said that this country hasn’t appointed a woman as president for years, adding that this government will be appointing a woman to take up the highest role of the country.
“This is not about tokenism and symbolism but the population at large will look at Ms Coleiro Preca as a role model,” he said.
“Marie Louise entered politics at a time when there was tension in the country, where even men who served in politics feared such times but she still took the plunge and entered politics,” he said.
“She is a person who is ready to make uncomfortable declarations and speak in favour of minority groups.
Dr Muscat saluted Mr Edgar Preca, Ms Coleiro Preca’s husband for the support he showed towards her when she came to accept Dr Muscat’s invitation to nominate her as President. He acknowledged that the Labour Party has lost a vote catcher and a strong pillar, describing her as a magnet when it comes to the number of votes she attracts.
Busuttil’s address on Coleiro Preca appointment
Dr Busuttil said that Ms Coleiro Preca, as from today, will be everyone’s president.
“The Opposition will be voting in favour of this motion to appoint her as President but this will put a lot of responsibility on her and I have no doubt that she will acknowledge such responsibility,” he said.
However, Dr Busuttil took umbrage over the way the government nominated her, leaving him out of the equation.
Quoting excerpts of Labour’s pre electoral statements, Dr Busuttil said that the PL had said that if elected to office, it would move away from politics of the past, but I will leave it to the people to see whether such a pledge has been implemented.
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