The person behind the name – Lorna Vassallo (PL)
As Election Day looms closer we’ll bring you short interviews with those at the centre of the ballots – the candidates themselves.
The three political parties were sent the same questions to pass on to their respective candidates. To date the Nationalist party has sent no replies.
Legal procurator Lorna Vassallo, 38, originally from Mgarr, Malta, has mainly worked in teaching over the last few years, amongst which as a French / German part-time lecturer and examiner at the Institute of Tourism Studies. She also did courses in Diplomacy, Maritime Law, Russian and Arabic. At a very early age she presented radio programmes regarding with law and politics on Live FM and One Radio. She served in local committees and contested the Local Council elections as well as the elections of Party Executive. From 1999 she has contributed in local media with articles on the EU and national politics. Her hobbies include writing, the study of languages, historical re-enactments, singing and travelling. She has also travelled in various Asian, Latin American and North African countries apart from the European continent.
This is her third election on the 12th district (Mellieha, Naxxar, St. Paul’s Bay).
What attracted you to choose a political career?
I had been writing in ‘L-Orizzont’ for some years. The party contacted me one day and I had to take the important decision. I never regretted it since. I think the difference between a private person and someone in politics is that the former thinks only of the problems that affect him/her directly, the latter is concerned with any problem that affects anybody. When that change happens in you, being active in politics becomes a must.
What makes you believe in your party?
Today I am prouder than ever of belonging to this party. It’s the party with humble origins, the party that has suffered breach of human rights in the past and that has proved to be most secular throughout history. It’s given rights to women, introduced the welfare state on a grand scale, introduced free and obligatory education, decriminalized adultery and gay relationships, banned imprisonment because of debts and maintained public debt to record levels. With Alfred Sant as leader the party has put an end to violence in politics. And with Joseph Muscat it will put an end to the looming present corruption as well as to the great blue-red divide that unfortunately still lingers on.
Which party values and policies do you cherish most?
Giving a voice to people who have less financial resources, minorities – defending the underdog. Although I am a practicing catholic, still, I value my party’s secularism as I think being tied to the Church’s thinking shackles a government from performing socially and from accepting diversity within a state.
PL is breaking away from its traditional image, while PN is slowly moving towards a more inclusive attitude. What are your views on both?
I think Joseph Muscat is succeeding wonderfully in moving on. On the other hand, I’m sorry, I disagree that PN is moving towards an inclusive attitude. It is still disregarding minorities and colour-coding citizens, as its campaign posters plainly show. I don’t have much hope that if PN is re-elected to power it will not shed its skin again and creep back into old tactics. Moreso as a vote for PN would re-affirm that their way of doing things is the right way as the people would have endorsed it by another electoral victory. However, I don’t think that PN heavyweights enjoy much credibility anymore. Whatever they say I personally take with a pinch of salt. Remember, old habits die hard. The PM himself is saying ‘Why should we change our direction if it has worked?’
Given your background (career) which sectors do you think you can contribute mostly to?
Today my whole life is built around politics. I can contribute hugely in various sectors. Firstly, Foreign Affairs, mainly because of my studies in law, economics and diplomacy. One of my greatest ambitions would be to see Peace and eradicate Poverty in the world – and of course Foreign Affairs is the place to be if you want to actively work towards these goals.
I could also contribute hugely in the Culture and Tourism sector. Having worked actively in the Tourism sector over the last six years and having taken part in various cultural events all over Europe – it is inevitable that I cherish Malta’s historical and cultural heritage deeply. All in all, one of my greatest wishes is to see Malta where it belongs in world history – especially as regards our Temple Period, The Knights of St. John and World War II and instill in the Maltese themselves that sense of pride that makes them realize the true importance of their own country. A lot has been done in this sector, but a lot remains to be done especially in the run-up to Europe Capital of Culture Valletta 2018.
Education is another sector which I have at heart. Although I am qualified in Law I was lured into teaching and therefore consider myself as an insider, having worked with teachers and discussed problems arising not only from past curriculae but also following the implementation of the new National Minimum Curriculum. More consultation with teachers is definitely needed in this sector and there is still a long way to go. Most teachers are still dissatisfied with what has been gained so far and feel sidelined.
What should the public expect from a new government?
Less promises, more performance. Less marketing, more projects. Less for politicians and cronies, more for the people. Less pollution, more energy efficiency. Less to them, more for you.
How do you rate the current electoral campaign and the proposals launched so far?
I couldn’t expect any better from my party. I expected much more from PN.
PL has been in the Opposition for years. Is the party ready to govern? Why?
It’s ready to hit the ground running. The Manifesto itself has already been discussed with stakeholders as well as the public. It has not been drafted by the party alone. Such issues as in the energy sector and the switch to a power station operated by gas are based on professional studies. What PL lacks is not the ability, the knowledge, the human resources or the will but the public mandate to govern. Hopefully, that will materialise after March 9.
Why should people vote in new blood over serving MPs?
New blood is always healthy. And a new broom always sweeps clean. However, that said, this applies mostly for parties rather than individual members of parliament. I believe that each and every candidate has a lot to offer. Whether new or experienced, whether within or without Parliament, our candidates’ team can offer Malta a lot. It all depends on the people’s response on the March 9.
In a parliamentary structure shrouded in allegations and lack of accountability, why do you want to get involved?
The parliamentary structure ‘shrouded in allegations’ is mostly the present cabinet and a handful of candidates on the caretaker government’s side. Not faceless/ousted members of parliament on the government’s side and not members of the Opposition. The very first laws that will be passed by a new Labour government will be The Whistleblower’s Act, Party Financing and Lifting of Prescription on cases of Corruption – bills Franco Debono aggressively campaigned for and over which he was ousted out of the Nationalist Party. Anybody who has meddled in questionable practices shouldn’t be in politics in the first place. Surely, accountability doesn’t bother me. I do understand that the last government hasn’t called for any resignation inspite of all the scandals that have haunted our politics during the last legislature, but the Maltese have to grow up – especially if they want to call themselves European. We have to realize that the era of the Inquisition has long been over. It’s time to move on. It’s time for zero intolerance to corruption and political scandal in practice not in theory. It’s time for a mature democracy not the odd resignation of political convenience.