The Malta Independent 26 June 2019, Wednesday

Labour delivers

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 19 May 2019, 09:52 Last update: about 2 months ago

This coming Saturday, all Maltese and Gozitans will be exercising the most basic form of political participation in the functioning of our democratic country – the right to vote. The right to vote is a pillar of free government and is one of the most important civil liberties known to man. Voting is a fundamental right exercised collectively by all of us in order to select our representatives, both in the European Parliament and in all 68 Local Councils.  

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This Saturday’s vote

Our vote will also mean that we will hold the candidates we elect accountable in everything that they do by virtue of the trust we give them.  As accountable representatives, they will have to be constantly aware that they are answerable to our mandate and that they must provide ample proof of their sense of responsibility throughout their term of office in the political process. 

Participation in the electoral process is therefore more than just a value – it is a fundamental ingredient of democracy.  Elections strengthen democracy and provide social and individual security. In an election, power is transferred democratically and peacefully with the consent and choice of the majority. When elections are free and fair, they can be a powerful catalyst for human development, greater security and better governance. Voting means active citizenship; it means holding those elected responsible and answerable to the people.

Election campaigns and manifestos are meant to help informed citizens to make the right choices.  People regularly observe what is going on in the community of which they are a part and try to understand both sides of an argument as to how things can be done better. It is a pity that, while people can witness with tangible proof Labour's track record of delivering on its promises, this is sadly lacking on the other side of the local political scene, apart from an endless list of inconsistencies.

 

Worst cacophony ever

Indeed, it is sad for our democracy that a disintegrated Opposition still lives in denial after two consecutive thrashings at the polls.  Instead of doing the job any self-respecting Opposition is expected to do, they are constantly screaming foul at anything under the sun with an endless cacophony of destructive criticism and a negative alienating attitude that is further dividing their already fractured and disjointed Party. 

The Nationalist EP candidates, in particular, cannot boast of anything but badmouthing the country’s institutions within EU circles. They do this fully aware that they are threatening thousands of jobs and the country’s stability. This behaviour should be sufficient impetus  for the Maltese and Gozitan electorate to understand the importance of exercising their right to vote in Saturday’s EP elections. Indeed, voting for all Labour candidates contesting for the EP is not merely a right but is also a responsibility – we must vote for candidates who love their country and are committed to safeguard Malta’s future in the international fora.

Voting is not compulsory but it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in the electoral process, even more so when Malta’s socio-economic stability and livelihood are at stake.  Voting is not merely a way of supporting a particular candidate or party but is a way of strengthening our democracy which, in turn – as has been amply proven during the last six years –  has helped to build a fairer and more inclusive society. 

These are the basic criteria that should move us to cast our vote on Saturday. It is the best opportunity for us to express our responsibility and commitment to the nation’s wellbeing and that of our local communities. 

 

Gozo’s fourth vessel

Last Friday I had the honour  of  announcing the introduction of a fourth ferry to join the current Gozo Channel’s fleet. The new vessel will begin operating in the coming days, will help increase the company’s efficiency and will make life easier for those needing to cross the channel. The change in schedule with the introduction of a fourth ferry will translate into more trips with three vessels instead of two and another vessel with a schedule to transport commercial vehicles.

On my trip to Corfu, which started last Thursday, to see the new ship prior to its docking to finalise the alterations required, I reaffirmed the importance of a fourth ferry, having observed that our current fleet of three ships was not enough to satisfy the demand for more trips between the islands. Gozo’s economy is growing at such a rate that passenger and vehicle numbers have increased dramatically and the demand for extra trips is needed all year round. About a year ago, Gozo Channel (Operations) Ltd’s technical team began the process of contacting several international agencies in order to find a vessel that was best suited to the company’s needs and able to dock in both  Mġarr and Ċirkewwa harbour. 

The way the ports of Mġarr and Ċirkewwa were built by previous administrations lacked vision and insight: the quays and docking areas being custom-made to cater only for the Gozo Channel’s  fleet of ships and so finding a ship that would be able to dock was incredibly challenging. This we did and the new ferry has been leased for a definite period until an international tender is issued for the company to lease a ship for a longer period of time.

Adding another ferry will give the Gozo Channel (Operations) Ltd the ability to plan better and carry out statutory maintenance of its vessels without creating any inconvenience for those who use the service on a regular basis. With the addition of a fourth ferry, we now look forward to the introduction of a fast-ferry service, once court proceedings are concluded. Labour delivers on its promises:  we are tackling the connectivity challenge by sea and also by land. With the ambitious Gozo-Malta tunnel project, Labour is proving that the government has a clear vision for Gozo that is being implemented through its long-term strategy.

 

Proud of Michela

Malta and Gozo have made it to the Eurovision grand final after our young and talented Michela Pace was one of 10 singers who were chosen on Thursday’s semi-final in Tel Aviv.  Our young Gozitan singer managed to take Malta's participation into the final night after the country missed out in 2017 and 2018.

With her song Chameleon, Michela competed with 17 other singers in a contest widely considered as the toughest of the two semi-finals.

I am writing this on Saturday morning and only on Sunday can we comment on Michela’s fortune at the grand final yesterday evening. Whatever the result, Michela has already given us national pride with her impeccable performance.  While I am writing before the final result is known, I can proudly express the appreciation of Gozitans and Maltese regarding what our rising star has already achieved! Whatever the final result – well done, Michela!

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