A conference seeking ways to strengthen Malta’s national unity was held today, with a number of prominent members of society as well as key stakeholders speaking during the open discussion.
Organised by President George Vella, who had pledged to focus on unity during his tenure, various speakers were given the opportunity to pinpoint what they felt were some of the more harmful elements in society when it came to standing together – and what can be done to address them.
The conference was held at Verdala Palace and was streamed online as well as on TVM.
Posted by Television Malta on Friday, February 26, 2021
“The unity between us is the key to the success of this country,” Vella said in his opening statement. “Unity can be the only source for peace.”
The President went on to say that this topic has been on his mind ever since he entered the role, and was of prime importance to him. He noted that figuring out the solution to national unity wasn’t easy, and that the topic was vast – but that this conference was a step in the right direction.
When it came to the speakers, there was a wide range of perspectives on what was leading to a lack of unity in Malta, especially in light of the openness which the President had allowed.
Several people raised concerns about partisan media.
Some asked how people stand a chance of knowing the truth with particular agendas were constantly thrown at them; however, at least one lawyer said that if someone didn’t like what they were hearing, they didn’t need to listen, and could just turn the station off.
Others said that politicians should take the lead on ensuring there is peace and unity in society.
Lovin Malta founder Christian Peregin noted that unity is found when people in society see each other as human beings first, before their political views, gender, religion or other aspects of one’s personality.
“However, to achieve unity in Malta – especially after the trauma of the past few years – we must start to promote unity,” he continued. “Currently in Malta, we are teaching division, 24 hours a day. Two of our three TV stations are literally designed to rally political tribes like warring factions. Even the most basic of information – the daily news – is deliberately presented to us in a way that fuels our suspicion of one another.” Peregin went on to commend the President for organising the conference.
Moviment Graffitti representative Wayne Flask called out the “bullying” being undertaken against the common citizen, and also questioned how there could be any unity with partisan beliefs constantly being pushed by Malta’s “two largest tribes”: PL and PN. He also noted that oftentimes in Malta, the interests of the few overtake the interests of the many, with politicians a major contributor to this.
Chamber of Commerce president David Xuereb said that while the island was facing one type of virus, there was another harming society – the virus of individuality. He called for society to focus on what unites it, and not always only on what divides it.
One organisation leader asked how he could realistically contribute to national unity, and said it was time for something “tangible, and not more dissecting of the problem”. He also took the opportunity to state that many in society were getting tired of hearing about COVID-19, even changing the channel whenever the virus is mentioned.
The President is set to organise further conferences and roundtable discussions on prominent topics on the island – but seeing Vella organising an open, safe space for people to discuss their fears, concerns and hopes for society is definitely a step in the right direction.