The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

‘We are building bridges not walls’ – PM Joseph Muscat during PL Deputy Leadership debate

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 5 June 2016, 11:37 Last update: about 4 years ago

'We are building bridges not walls' - Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during PL Deputy Leadership debate

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat expressed the importance of building bridges, and not walls.

When it comes to environmental criticism, the Prime Minister believes that government should be judged on it's decisions, and not just on planning applications which government does not have, and should not have control over.

He was addressing a televised debate between the three candidates for the Deputy Leader of Party Affairs post on One TV.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat thanked the three candidates for the way they are handling this election. "Eight years ago I was elected as leader of the party. I am very pleased in seeing the contrast in mind-set. Eight years ago, there was a siege mentality, and the message I brought forward then was that the game should not focus on raising the walls, but on meeting with society".

He said that recently, with the constant attacks on government, he felt that the party was again going to move in that direction, yet instead we found the strength of the movement. "If a small wall was built, we must destroy it in order to discuss with people again, and grab the positive mentality that did this party so good, which I truly believe in".

Addressing the three candidates, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, he said that whoever is elected must work to continue to build bridges, especially with the most vocal opponents of the PL.

Turning to the environment, he said that government must be more sensitive on environment and governance. On the environment he said - "yes there was the question of the AUM which we fixed, but we haven't touched a fraction of virgin land that others had. Development in development zones, however must occur. We want more coordinated development"

He also said that government should not be criticised on planning applications, but rather on its decisions. "So I, in a democratic country, can stop someone from applying? Judge us on our decisions, not on applications. Many criticism in the press is not based on decisions, it's on applications. Do we have controversial decisions, yes, and in these cases criticism must occur".

Labour Deputy Leader candidates Minister Owen Bonnici, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi and Minister Chris Cardona took part in the programme.

Minister Bonnici said that the choice of Joseph Muscat as head of the PL was a decision to change the future of the party. Today, he said, is a decision to continue down that road and strengthen the party.

Minister Bonnici is convinced that after this internal political race, the party will come out stronger together. “The new leader must be close to the delegates, and Maltese families. I put forward 20 proposals to implement priorities together. The first, is that of stability. The heart of the government must also be the heart of the party, and there needs to be synergy to maximise the good we are doing. These are our crucial priorities and I am sure the delegates will elect the person who is close to them and will work to improve the lives of families”.

Turning to social justice, he spoke of the importance of every person having dignity, no matter if he or she forms part of a large group or not.

Minister Cardona said that the time has come to focus on strengthening the PL to ensure a second term led by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

He said that women are a catalyst in the change of political parties.

 “We must work together to find a political strategy that promotes new ideas that we will implement after the next election and will assure a second term. We must be strong enough as we will have a PN who will do all they can to win the election. We must also have a separate arm that can meet the PN attacks and react to them”.

Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that a Deputy Leader of Party Affairs must be the link between the people and the party, who continues to strengthen the ties. “The PL must be a strong party that reaches out to the people. We need a Deputy Leader focussed on the party”.

“ I believe that in order for the PL, to succeed must have internal and external synergies. Today we must look at our synergies with the people in general, be closer to the people and continue working to help the people understand that the PL is the best political force to lead this country. We must go and meet those who believe they are being excluded and explain to them how the party is working to improve the country”.

 

All three candidates brought a message of unity for the party, indicating that they will be working together after the choice for Deputy Leader is made. 


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