On Thursday (today), Myriam Spiteri Debono was been officially sworn in as Malta’s 11th President.

Within the Throne Room in the Grandmaster’s Palace, in Valletta, Dr Spiteri Debono delivered her first speech as President sending a powerful message against corruption and “the relentless pursuit of riches,” following turbulent political years dominated by corruption scandals.

In the presence of the Members of Parliament, Dr Spiteri Debono remarked that while a present challenge is to bring to the fore the mental health of the people, “another affliction is hitting our shores  – financial greed.”

She said that the relentless pursuit of riches, more often than not, translates itself into various forms of corruption.

She pondered that in these cases, the pursuier becomes indifferent to the suffering “he may directly and indirectly cause others.”

“It is worse than substance addiction, which, in the perception of the majority of people, is the worst addiction one can suffer from. The drug addict, mainly harms himself but greed harms the whole of society,” she remarked.

The President highlighted that the concept of good governance should never be sidelined. She said that it forms part of the widening and the evolution of democracy.

“We have already started working on this. I, myself, am the product of one of the reforms implementing broadening of governance,” she added.

On implementation, she makes reference to the recommendations of the public inquire of Jean Paul Sofia and stated that if these are not implemented, then “public inquiries become a useless exercise.”

Nonetheless, she noted that the will to incorporate these recommendations into the law, exists.

Despite so, she emphasises that a lot still needs to be done in the implementation of the recommendations made by the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Particularly, she targeted reforms concerning the media – which she describes as the fourth pillar of democracy.

“Scrutiny of Government is not the exclusive domain of the Opposition in Parliament, the media, in its various forms, exercises scrutiny not only on the Government, but also on the Opposition, and spurs them on to better themselves and be greater of service to the people,” she believes.

Adressing the economic sector, Dr Spiteri Debono states that a long-term plan ensures stability and does not give rise to upheavals when a new administration follows the previous one, since this greater stability encourages more local and foreign investment.

In order to achieve this, she said, agreement between the two sides of the House is necessary, “this after discussions with experts and social partners.”

Throughout her speech, Dr Spiteri Debono recalls some of Malta’s most historic achievements; its Independence in 1964 and the founding of the Republic in 1974.

“Until [then] a section of the populace continued to suffer heartache and a sense of betrayal that their request in 1800 to Great Britain for protection, a superpower at that time, developed into colonial domination with the exclusive aim of serving the interests of the colonial master,” she recalled.

However, she adds that now that the country is master of its own homeland, Malta started developing economically and socially.

Making reference to third country nationals (TCNs) in the country, Dr Spiteri Debono said that, now, the country is in a situation where it is no longer preoccupied with the “dearth of employment.”

“We have become a haven for persons who, as our forerunners did during the last century, are leaving their native land in search of  better life. This has resulted in a situation where we have an influx of foreigners from countries who do not enjoy the prosperity which we have acquired with the wise direction of our various political leaders,” she added.

Therefore, she believes it is imperative to embrace and understand them but also to go beyond mere tolerance and rise above an unwilling accpetance. “Because we need their presence and input.”

She continued by saying that our generosity – as part of the nation’s character – should also manifest itself in wider ways and should be at the basis of each others relationships and with those who seek to live on the islands.

This, she adds, also includes those who flee the social/politicla cruelty in their native country including situations of armed conflict.

“Unity, tranquillity, and serenity in our beloved Malta must result from a concentrated and continuous effort by us all. No President on his own is in possession of a magic wand which overnight brings about unity and harmony,” she states.

Finally, she wraps up her speech by saying that in her tenure as President she wants the it to be characterised as the presidency of the people and for the people.

“Nobody, none, and nothing, is greather than Malta, our mother country. This includes the two major political parties,”  the President concluded.

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