A new dawn

Our new President’s vision should remind us that this is a great nation and that we are good people.

It was a one-of-a-kind address, like no other before it. It came at the right time and in the right circumstances. It satisfied the heightened expectations of a waiting nation.

The oath that she, as guardian of our constitution, took before us and before God was not hers alone, but ours together. The clear message that she subtly imparted to us all was something to this effect: We are one nation and one people. Our fate as a nation and our future as a people rest not upon one citizen but upon all citizens.

That is the majesty and meaning of this moment. For every generation, there is a destiny. For some, history decides. For this generation, the choice must be our own.

In a calm and measured tone, President Myriam Spiteri Debono extolled the virtues of democracy and maintaining the rule of law for the good of the nation. Delivering her speech, one brimming with hope, courage and determination, the new President said she intended to be “visible and accessible” during her five-year term.

The President promised to speak out whenever she feels there’s a need to do so. She wished the next five years to be a presidency of the people and for the people.

She expressed her belief that the media is the fourth pillar of democracy and emphasised its importance in giving a voice to citizens and keeping the powers that be in check. Scrutiny of the government’s work is not only the role of the Opposition in parliament but also all media platforms that, together, exercise scrutiny on both the Government and the Opposition so that they can be more focused on their improvement and better serve our people.

Our President committed to upholding values for the country, subtly chiding the bickering among political parties. She wisely provided the ingredients needed to truly achieve national unity and accelerate progress in all major fields. It is the need for politics that seeks dialogue, persuasion, and compromise.

She particularly emphasised that nobody, no one, and nothing is greater than Malta, our mother country. This includes the two major political parties. Her straightforward appeal to our leaders had a huge impact because of its simplicity. Her strong appeal was for all our leaders to openly and, by example, concretely expose that their love for Malta and its people comes first and foremost. Following their example, their supporters shall place at the very top Malta’s welfare before that of the party.

She said the concept of good governance is one that should never be sidelined. It forms part of the widening and evolution of democracy.

The new President reminds us that the world will not be the same for our children or even for ourselves in a short span of years. The next person to stand here will look out on a scene that is different from our own.

Ours is a time of rapid and fantastic change, shaking old values and uprooting old ways. Our destiny in the midst of change will rest on the unchanged character of our people and on their faith.

The President’s inspiring and moving speech was overflowing with emotional, genuine power. It should move us and make each and every one of us remember that our country can be a place where each man and woman can be proud to be himself or herself, stretching their talents, rejoicing in their work, and being important in the lives of their neighbours and their nation.

This has become more difficult in a world where change and growth seem to tower beyond the control and even the judgement of men. We must work to provide the knowledge and the surroundings that can expand the possibilities of every citizen.

Translating the President’s simple words into the main messages that she clearly wished to impart means that we must reject any among us who seek to reopen old wounds and rekindle old hatreds. They stand in the way of a seeking nation. Now is the time to join reason with faith and action with experience to transform our unity of interest into a unity of purpose. The hour, the day and the time are here to achieve progress without strife, to achieve change without hatred – not without differences of opinion but without the deep and abiding divisions that have scarred the nation for generations.

Each of us must find a way to advance the purpose of the nation, thus finding a new purpose for ourselves. Without this, we will simply become a nation of strangers.

President Spiteri Debono’s inaugural address brilliantly shone above all the preceding presidential inaugural addresses. It was Malta’s day. It was democracy’s day, marking the first time that a President was elected by a unanimous vote after constitutional changes in 2020 required a two-thirds majority vote in parliament, embodying national unity. It marked a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve.

Malta is being tested anew, and our country and our government will rise to the challenge. At the end of the eleventh President’s inaugural address, a whole nation celebrated the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause: the national cause.

Our new President’s vision should remind us that this is a great nation and that we are good people. Over the years, through storms and strife, in peace and war, we have come so far. But we still have far to go. We must press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.

Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging than the one we’re in now.

The first national address of the President of the Republic of Malta, Notary Myriam Spiteri Debono, is directing us to look ahead in our uniquely Maltese way – restless, bold, and optimistic – and set our sights on the nation we know we can and must be.

Photo: Jeremy Wonnacott/DOI

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