Outgoing Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability Oliver Scicluna who relinquished the post to take up a seat as a government MP, confided that he had never planned to venture into politics, but felt he could not turn down the Prime Minister’s offer for co-option.

The newly elected MP was speaking to Voice of the Workers Weekly when interviewed on the challenges ahead, now that he has taken the role of a legislator.  

“I have always stayed away from partisan political discourse and ideology as for me politics must be a tool that can be a voice of reason to better the lives of society in general. I have accepted this call because it was now or never opportunity,” the newly-appointed MP remarked.

Scicluna noted that people from various spectrums who harboured different political beliefs had already expressed genuine confidence in him though he was “not yet elected democratically”.  

“In the past I have called persons with disabilities to enter public life to increase the chance of having a more representative House of Representatives, so I want to use this opportunity to encourage more disabled people, including women with disabilities to enter politics. I am sure that in this way we can bring real change,” Scicluna remarked.

Asked on the hurdles faced by persons with disabilities when seeking to enter the labour market, the MP noted that during his final months at the helm, the Commission had carried out research into this issue.

“Through this research we were able to come up with specific guidelines for employers as we believe that one of the areas we need to tackle is job support to employers to be able to accommodate different persons with disabilities at work. These will be published in the coming weeks or months,” he added.  

Scicluna also referred to long-term unemployment among disabled persons calling for a mixed approach such as the introduction of social enterprises.

“We have to remember that the introduction of the 2% quota had reaped fruit since many disabled people managed to enter into the labour market from the time the Employment Act (persons with disabilities) was enforced,” the MP remarked.

Scicluna heaped praise on the work done by State agency Sapport which offers services in the community to enable persons with disabilities to lead an independent lifestyle. “There is room for improvement, especially in the mentality of making sure that disabled people live in the community through offered support and reasonable accommodation and not opting to enter institutions. I will definitely do my best to push for more strengthening of community services and the kicking off for a strategy for deinstitutionalization in Malta and Gozo,” he said.

The government MP pledged that he would stick to the vision which he had brough forward at the helm of the CRPD for the empowerment of disabled persons in order to lead an independent life.

“My dream which I will work for is that someday we will not need to fight anymore for our basic rights since they will be respected naturally without being questioned and challenged. Until that day comes, I remain committed towards the disability rights movement,” Scicluna said.