Labour leader Joseph Muscat has expressed his faith in the Maltese people. "I believe in you", he told thousands of supporters gathered at Hal Far on Thursday evening. During Labour's last mass meeting, Dr Muscat praised the movement's energy amid the infectious shout of 'Malta taghna lkoll' rising up from one of the largest crowds Malta has ever seen.
Dr Muscat recounted Labour's past achievements, such as the introduction of workers' rights and the introduction of civil rights, female suffrage being one of many. Labour was still committed to giving civil rights, and planned to give 16 year olds voting rights. Dr Muscat reiterated his faith in young people, and said that just as young people had not been afraid of the 'mortal sin' decades ago, young people today are also possessed of the same spirit as they are not afraid of change.
Dr Muscat admitted to past mistakes, and said that Labour had paid dearly with 25 years in opposition. "However we can now face the electorate and say that we have listened to the people and changed, let us now change the country together!", Muscat appealed. He also said that he felt honoured by the faith people had shown in him up to this point.
Dr Muscat explained how years ago Labour had recognised the cry for workers' rights, and today Labour has heard the people's cry for a movement which brings down the barriers of partisan politics. "This movement is the natural home for all the Maltese who want change. In a reference to Malta's accession to the EU, Dr Muscat said that others had led us to join the EU and he respected that choice. However, Labour now aspired to make Malta the best country in Europe.
Dr Muscat said that next Saturday is a unique opportunity for people to vote for change, and that Labour's 20 priorities should place everyone's minds and hearts at rest. "Just as everyone voted heartily to increase utility tariffs, you should also vote heartily for change." Speaking about PL's roadmap for economic growth, he said that Labour's plan will pump 77 million Euros into the economy annually.
Dr Muscat said that PL believes in businesses because it believes in work. "We will not give you numbers, we will give you real work", Muscat said with reference to PN's promise of 25,000 jobs. On the lack of women's participation in the work force, Dr Muscat explained that Labour's pledge of free childcare will address this deficiency.
On education, Dr Muscat said that students will not only be helped through new schools, but also through an improved stipend system, whereby students who repeat their academic year will still be given a stipend. Addressing those families whose children have not succeeded accadamically, Dr Muscat expressed his hope that members of these families will start graduating for the first time under a new government. A Labour government will also invest in teachers by introducing, among others, a year's paid sabbatical so that they can pursue studies related to education.
Dr Muscat explained that a Labour government will also invest in health care, because it did not want people lying around in hospital corridors without dignity. Labour will improve health centres and introduce a Patient Charter so that patients will be aware of their rights. There will be a maximum waiting time for operations, and when this has elapsed, the government will pay for the operation in a private hospital.
"We are not promising everything to everyone, but only that which is achievable", Muscat said. He insisted that all those who believed that it was time for change were under an obligation to vote for such a change. Next Saturday the people needed to deliver a message to those who have chosen a power station operating on HFO, those who wrecked the public transport system, and those who had taken a 500 Euro weekly raise for themselves.
"The choice is between those who are desperate... and those who give hope", Muscat said. Dr Muscat also mentioned the scaremongering campaign which is in full swing at workplaces, and professed these allegations false. "A Labour government will not be vindictive. It will address injustice without making new ones." Dr Muscat warned supporters to be level headed and not to fall foul to provocation, as Labour is a serene movement that will not tolerate violence.