Republic Day speech 2018: the digested read

The main takeaways from Marie Louise Coleiro Preca’s fifth and final Republic Day speech

President Marie-Louise Coleiro
President Marie-Louise Coleiro

The intro

“On the 10th of December 1948, the United Nations brought into being the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… During this year of the Republic, we have the opportunity to review and evaluate whether, as a nation, we are sufficiently informed and educated about these rights. We also have the opportunity to measure our successes and deficiencies, against the benchmark of the Universal Declaration.”

On human rights and migration

“Fundamental Human Rights represent the foundations, upon which the fullness democracy and peace are built. Indeed, these are the strongest roots of our Republican Constitution. I believe that the Universal Declaration, alongside our Constitution, must always be the cornerstone of the ways in which we live together, and how we treat one another.”

“For this reason, we must insist that the rights of visitors and newcomers to our islands, including migrants, must be upheld in their fullness, without complacency or favouritism.”

On the economy

“No economy can celebrate human dignity, unless the needs of the most vulnerable are kept at the heart of its operations. For this reason, the vulnerable must receive all the support that they need. An economy that truly upholds human dignity is one which ensures that nobody is pushed to the peripheries of our society.”

On social welfare

“I appeal for this social welfare system to remain a priority, above and beyond the pursuit of economic advances… I urge for this period in our history, of exceptional and unprecedented economic growth, to also be a time in which we work together, to strengthen and develop a culture of permanent social solidarity.”

On populism 

“In today’s world, we are witnessing the results of what takes place, when governments abandon the social contract in favour of excessive private accumulation of profit. People not only lose hope in the established political class, but also, they seek reassurance in populist ideologies. It is useless for us to urge our peoples to disregard populism during the European parliamentary elections.”

On the manipulation of democracy by technology

“It is essential for us to ensure that our democracy is not manipulated, from behind the scenes, by corporations that transform the intimate details of our lives into a commercial product. A manipulated democracy is false and dangerous, because it distinguishes between a superior class with knowledge at its disposal, and a sub-class that carries on a lower quality of life, because it lacks the necessary knowledge.”

On Constitutional reform

“I urge all of us to seize this historical moment, and to make constitutional reform an educational exercise and a democratic participative process, as one united people. There is the need for the people to bring forward their aspirations, to create the desired transformation in our society, and to invigorate our democratic institutions.”

On the social media 

“Today, anyone can presume to be some kind of journalist, by passing on his or her views through modern means of communication. Unfortunately, some individuals abuse these means of communication, without taking into account the consequences of their actions. The media, therefore, shoulders a higher responsibility to report the truth.”

On mental health

“Difficulties of stress and challenges of mental health are also among the issues which are often highlighted by children and young people. They are concerned about an educational system that is still too stressful, even though positive measures have been undertaken to address this challenge.”

On educators

“I also urge the people of Malta, to show the due respect towards the teaching profession, and I urge our young people, to consider education as an opportunity to be of service to their country. Let me commend the educators who continue to teach our children, beyond obligatory education.”

On gender equality

“It is of serious concern that the more education a woman acquires, the greater the gender pay gap and the disparity in income.  As we all believe that increased education brings greater access to opportunity, it is worrying to note that more education could mean more discrimination.”

The conclusion

“Democracy is the best means that we have, in today’s world, to celebrate human dignity and to safeguard the observance of human rights and peace, in our communities and in Maltese society…

“My gratitude also goes to those among us who have criticised me, perhaps at times in haste and with lack of forethought, because I have learnt from the experience…

“Today, more than ever before, I believe that we, as a nation, have the ability to be unique. We have the ability to ensure that nobody is left behind. We have the ability to strengthen unity, and moreover, to nurture peace among the nations.

“Our children want us to be united, and they want Malta to be a country in which nobody is made to suffer or to feel excluded. Our children want us to respect one another. Our children do not want conflict, rather, they want our country to welcome them and give them peace of mind.

“Dear young people of Malta and Gozo, I urge you to be activists for a Malta that is valued for its genuine work, for an inclusive and resilient people. God willing, you will be worthy to become the ethical leaders of our country, in the future.

“Dear brothers and sisters of Malta and Gozo, I assure you that all the experiences we have lived through together will remain engraved in my heart, with love and tenderness.

“Long live the Republic of Malta.”

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