Repubblika presents manifesto to push forward public life based on ethical principles

NGO will forge ahead as pressure group

Rule of law NGO Repubblika has presented its proposals for a “new republic” at an extraordinary general meeting held Saturday morning.

Addressing the meeting, activist Manuel Delia said that civil society must be proactive to reach its goals. He spoke about the need for a sense of community, a sense of belonging. “That what you do doesn’t only serve your own interests but that there is a sense of service to the community.”

Persons in public life are examples and role models for private life, he said, adding that there was a heightened need for ethics in public life.

A sense of ethics in public life would also preclude politicians from stashing cash in other jurisdictions, Delia said. The taxes we pay are for the society to be better and benefit everyone, he said. A moment of downturn in ethics was when the Prime Minister justified his friends doing this and stashing their cash in “coconut islands,” because he’s a businessman and it was normal for business men to do this, said the activist, adding that “it may be normal but it is not acceptable.”                                              

“If we are talking about ethics in public and private life we must address the fact that our current economic model is a pirate one. We must live on something, but if we live with the attitude that what was good 25 years ago is good today we are heading towards a brick wall.” The world had moved on, he said and civil society’s obligation was to provoke thinking for solutions.

Describing Malta’s current economy as “a pirate economy that launders its cash in cement” Delia rued the fact that political parties do not think in terms of ten or fifteen years. “Somebody has to do this job. We have a responsibility as civil society to develop ideas.”

“For us to give a serious contribution, civil society must work. There is a need for someone to have a conscience in the country. There is a need that the values through which we measure what is just… not just economic growth - that in itself is a risk of unsustainability - but mercy, solidarity justice… the bottom line remains justice that gives equal access to everybody.”

The date of the meeting was chosen to coincide with the last day of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s tenure. The atmosphere was happy, the crowd, mostly aged over 40, gave a five-minute standing ovation as lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona asked them to pay tribute to the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In its manifesto, handed out to attendees today, the organisation said its members had come together with the aim to “promote civil rights, democratic life, the rule of law, free speech, personal freedoms, social inclusion, environmental conservation, economic sustainability and equality of access, by means of active participation in the national discourse and related educational, social and charitable initiatives.”

During the meeting, the NGO proposed a public life based on and guided by ethical principles: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Repubblika said that it had made a conscious decision to not form a political party and all that this would entail, but instead to continue to act as a pressure group.

The time had come for an examination of the Constitution of Malta and implement structural reviews of the Office of the President, Parliament, the Executive and Public Service, the courts, the police, armed forces and the regulatory authorities, it said.

Education and training for a participative and responsible citizenry were also proposed. “Democracy is a precarious asset and can only remain alive if it is nurtured, maintained and passed on to the next generations.”

Malta needed a new, honest and sustainable economy, said Repubblika. The economy could “no longer depend on economic activities that exist mostly or only because of the dishonesty of those who want to hide their identity, nationality or legal or financial obligations. Malta cannot act as a shelter for the world’s pirates.”

The environment also featured in the proposals, with access to the countryside, electricity generation, waste management and transport being central themes.

Repubblika said it wanted to have an inclusive, just and humane society, promoting equality and against the exploitation and abuse of workers.

It pledged to work in favour of justice and the rule of law, the common good, the separation of powers and fair and speedy justice.

Repubblika would not stop its work with the end of the Muscat reign, it said. Vicki Ann Cremona, one of the speakers at the meeting ended her closing address by saying that it would give a chance to the new Prime Minister to see whether he respects the rule of law, and is willing to provide help and cooperate in that direction, “but if he doesn't respect it, we will be out in the streets again.”

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