Muscat calls for unity, vows to desist from tribal politics

After President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca’s appeal against hatred, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat pledges to work in favour of unity, urges people to desist from using language to incite division and hate

Just days after President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca hit out at politicians and their media acolytes for driving followers into a battle of hatred, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has vowed to desist from engaging in tribal politics and incitement of hatred.

“As politicians we must lead by example. Whenever we resort to aggressive language, we must take a step back as people expect better from us and work in favour of unity. I pledge to work more for unity and to create wealth not for Labourites only and against the Nationalists, but for all Maltese,” he said.

Addressing the Labour faithful in Hamrun, the prime minister said Coleiro Preca was right in criticising the government, arguing that the president had not stood by idly by “like a cheerleader” but instead urged Malta to unite and inspire positivity.

“It is good to criticise people and people have a right to do so, but there is no need to resort to inciting hatred and demeaning language.”

“It would be easy for me to come on a Sunday to engage in tribal politics and appease by admonishing Nationalist supporters and laud Labourites. But this would be wrong. What is the first thing which will come to mind when families gather for Christmas lunch? Whether those sitting at the table are Labourites or Nationalists? No … We should think of ourselves as being brothers and sisters,” Muscat said.

The prime minister – who last week hit out at the PN’s “fake news” that Transport Malta chairman James Piscopo is set to replace Keith Schembri as OPM chief of staff due to the latter’s health issues – insisted that he would not fall for these “attacks” and would desist from engaging in tribal politics.

Earlier, the Prime Minister insisted that despite Malta’s “exceptional” economic performance, the government would not rest on its laurels.

“The results that the government has achieved so far are water under the bridge. We are not in a perfect place yet, and we therefore look forward to achieving more for the country,” he said.

Speaking in the wake of the International Monetary Fund review of Malta’s “exceptionally strong” economic growth, the prime minister said the country’s economic performance was also being felt by the people.

Taking a swipe at previous Nationalist administrations, the Labour leader explained that previous positive reviews of Malta’s economic performance were down to then-PN governments increase in deficit, debt, and taxes.

“The taxpayers were paying for Malta’s economic performance out of their own pocket. However, under this government, Malta’s economic performance is a direct result of the government’s decisions, and is being felt by everyone,” he said.

The prime minister argued that the increase in economic growth and the prevailing sense of “serenity” in Malta was not down to harsh fiscal measures which burdened people, but down to the government’s sound decisions.

“This economic performance was recorded at a time where the government created more jobs, introduced free childcare, increase pensions, generated wealth and solved the deficit problem and not by increasing taxes or debts,” he said.

Muscat argued that under previous administrations news of 200 jobs being axed would have been a disaster, but under the present government it barely made the headlines due to the number of job opportunities.

The prime minister also explained that given Malta’s strong economic performance, it was now the perfect time to discuss an increase in Malta’s minimum wage, and the government is currently discussing the issue with social partners.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s consultation meeting on the LNG power plant in Delimara, Muscat slammed the use of heavy fuel oil and said that Maltese citizens were paying among the highest electricity tariffs in Europe.

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