Labour Party parliamentary group approves IVF bill

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told those present that his government would continue working to create a freer society

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat this evening reiterated his pledge to oversee Malta’s transition into a more modern society.

Speaking at the Labour Party’s annual Freedom Day celebrations, where he said that his government would continue on its reformist path by updating the country’s IVF laws, which his cabinet had unanimously approved earlier today.

"We will be pushing forward the concept of equality that favours life, and that unites us," Muscat said.

The event came at the end of a day of controversy surrounding Pilatus Bank, after its chairman and owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was arrested in the US on charges of money laundering and the breaking of US sanctions on Iran.

The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) responded by issuing an order to remove Hasheminejad as chairman, among other measures, but stopped short of withdrawing the controversial bank’s license.

Attempts at getting a comment from Muscat on the adequacy of the MFSA’s sanctions on the bank proved futile, with the Prime Minister insisting he had nothing to add to what he had said during the day before leaving the event.

Addressing those present, Muscat said that in 1979 - the year the last of the British forces left Malta – the nation could have chosen against change and uncertainty it brought, but had instead believed in itself, and in that it could make great strides forward without the support of others.

He paid tribute to former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, who he said had recognised the need for modernising Malta because many others did. He said the country needed to inspire itself from its past achievements in order to create a modern society.

“We must be convinced more than ever before so that we can convince the rest of the country,” said Muscat, adding that during his last government had achieved more than many which came before it.

He said that while the government had voted in favour of civil unions alone, same-sex marriages had been approved by both sides of the house.

Despite it’s achievements, he said the more change was needed, and that while there will always be those that wanted to instil doubts, and who would use misinformation in an attempt to scare people, the government would not be held back.

“I have been hearing these arguments for years now and I know there is not need to listen to them,” he added.

Another priority for the government, said the Prime Minister, would be to strive for better equality between the sexes. He said that since winning the right to vote 70 years ago, very little progress had been made when it came to women’s rights, and that his government was set on addressing this.

Deputy leader for party affairs Chris Cardona said Freedom Day was a reminder of Malta's democratic trajectory over the years, and one of the most important events in its history.

Democracy, he said, was kept alive by those elected to represent it and by their ability to read the hopes and aspirations of those they represented.

"In these years the nation worked to establish its political identity," said Cardona, adding that Malta had made great leaps forward, both socially and economically.

The country, he said, was one that cherished principles like the freedom of expression and association, and the right to work.

He stressed that before Freedom Day, Malta had always depended on foreign powers, even after gaining its independence from the British.

The country, he said, had gone from being part of the British monarchy, where the Maltese language was considered a language only worthy of the kitchen, to a democracy with a thriving economy. 

"Without Freedom Day, we would not have been the nation we are today," he said, adding that Malta owed its freedom to former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff. "Today we are living in the country Mintoff dreamt about."