SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2011
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2011
Labour leader talks of 'post-party' era where parties cannot deny society civil liberties.
Labour leader Joseph Muscat said local communities had to trust youth leaders as responsible people who can provide stability, at the launch of a recruitment campaign for young candidates for local councils.
The Start campaign is being led by Labour youth forum FZL to recruit candidates in the localities that will have elections in March 2012. Muscat this week already pledged he will veto the candidatures of incumbents who had failed to deliver or seemed intent on behaving as if they were an extension of governmental departments.
But he told his audience today in Sliema's St Anne Square that the public had to challenge its own preconception that youths did not know any better.
"We're challenging the usual political line that young people are simply a backdrop to politicians… who don't know any better. We're opening the doors wide open to youth," Muscat said, who admitted having had to face similar obstacles when he became Labour leader at 34 in 2008.
"When I took up this role, it was an innuendo I had to deal with… a perception that I was too young for the job. I think such emotions play on the worst form of fear a society can have. I believe Maltese society is at a point where it can challenge this hypocrisy, and that people are ready to accept youths as part of society's leaders," Muscat said.
"We're investing in young people because we know they are responsible enough to bring the stability local communities need, and because they feel and know the signs of the times."
The Labour leader said it was an accepted norm in other European countries to give voting suffrage to 16-year-olds, and expressed his support to extend the voting age in local council elections.
Muscat also denounced the style of political bickering between the Labour and Nationalist parties, saying that Maltese society had entered a 'post-party' era.
"Political parties cannot keep on believing they exist in some vacuum while society is changing. They must understand that the world does not revolve around them. Unless they function as tools for change, parties will become irrelevant," Muscat said as he launched in a criticism of the Nationalist government's flip-flop on IVF legislation.
"We have a hospital with the best technology for IVF but the IVF clinic is not getting used because we don't have a law on in vitro fertilisation. There is a report unanimously supported by both sides of the House gathering dust, because whoever leads the country does not have the courage to move matters forward. My heart goes out to couples who cannot go for IVF without this law. Politicians who cannot see beyond the end of their noses are denying these couples their happiness."
Muscat said Labour was a tool for the movement of people who wanted to be clear on civil liberties such as divorce, and the recognition of same-sex couples.
"We must be ready to speak out against homophobia and bullying in schools over sexual orientation. A legislator's role is not to know what people get up to in their bedrooms, but to protect the most vulnerable in our society," Muscat said.
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