Malta tagħna lkoll

Malta taghna lkoll

 

Tal-Labour Party ħelwin.

Jgħidulna li Malta tagħna lkoll.

Iżda ma qalulniex għaliex lesti li jħallu lil min jisraq biċċa minn Malta li hi tagħna ilkoll iżomma għalih. Fil-fatt is-serq tal-art biex fuqu inbnew il-boathouses tal-Armier tal-Labour Party iberkuh. Għal-Labour Party l-Armier fejn insterqet l-art m’hiex tagħna ilkoll, iżda tagħhom biss!

Ma qalilniex kif tista’ tkun Malta tagħna ilkoll imbagħad il-Labour Party jivvota favur li Bertie Mizzi jieħu f’idejħ (b’tender s’intendi) Manoel Island.

Mal-ambjentalisti ħafna kliem ħelu dwar kemm taħraqhom qalbhom għall-ambjent. Imma meta jkunu ma’ dawk li jiżviluppaw l-art, jitkellmu b’mod differenti. Iktar jitkellmu dwar kemm il-MEPA qed iżżomm l-iżvilupp lura. Ħalluna naħdmu, qalilhom Sandro Chetcuti!

Malta tagħna lkoll. Bil-kliem iva. Iżda bil-fatti ħaġa oħra.

Magħna taf fejn int!

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Dom: a giant surrounded by pygmies

Much has been written in the past days on Dom Mintoff. On his service to the nation. On his values. On his methods. On his achievements.

In what we write we ought to be respectful. Not just to Dom, the man and his memory. We must also respect  ourselves. We must be factual.

We cannot respect the man  if we have no self respect!

His first positive contribution was in the development of the tools of  social solidarity,  determined to ensure that all had access to the basic essentials. He did this initially with Sir Paul Boffa his predecessor as Labour Leader. It was Boffa who laid the foundations of the welfare state through the introduction of Old Age Pensions and Income Tax to finance them!  Years earlier Boffa had prodded Gerald Strickland through the Compact to construct St Luke’s Hospital.  Boffa has been sidelined in the past 50 years when in reality it was he who should get the credit for founding the welfare state in Malta. Dom built on Boffa’s solid foundations, widening and deepening social services in the process.

His second positive was his determination that independence be translated into Maltese absolute control of the islands and their strategic infrastructure. This contrasted with Borg Olivier’s more gradual approach.  His negotiations shocked the nation as it was the first time that a Maltese politician stood up and spoke what they had in mind. In his last mass meeting before the 1971 general elections, held  at Marsa,  Mintoff had stated in very clear terms what he had in mind. It was time for Britain to pay up or pack up.

Lord Carrington then Defence Secretary in Edward Heath’s Cabinet states in his memoirs that negotiating with Dom was tough business. He realised “that there was also calculation in every Mintoff mood.”  Mintoff’s moods noted Carrington, would alternate “between periods of civilised charm and spasms of strident and hysterical abuse.”

Dom also opened a third front. He rightly felt the need for a separation of Church and State. It was, and still is  an area which requires much attention. It was much worse 50 years ago with an unelected archbishop-prince wielding political power unwittingly aiding  the colonial masters. Divide and rule was the British policy in its colonies. This front has been the cause of various scars (political and social), still not sufficiently healed.  It was violence from unexpected quarters which multiplied the political problems which each government has had to tackle since.

In his endeavours Dom was undoubtedly influenced by his direct experiences.  His witnessing of abject poverty during his childhood, his youth and immediate post war years formed his vision for developing the welfare state which had been painfully plotted by Sir Paul Boffa.

Having a foreign power controlling any square metre of significance on the islands was too much to bear for someone with Dom’s temperament. His father’s employment in the service of Lord Louis Mountbatten undoubtedly added to the significance of it all and to his determination to make a clean sweep.

It would be dishonest to ignore the above.

It would be however similarly dishonest to ignore the fact that his stewardship was also characterised by arrogance and bullying. It was characterised by organs of the state which sought to protect abusive behaviour. The long list of cases wherein Dom’s government and his most trusted Ministers were found guilty of infringing human rights is there for all to see. None of them was ever forced to resign. This is also part of Dom’s contribution to the development of  post 1964 Malta.

Anyone ever tried to identify the number of victims, some with a one way ticket to l-Addolorata Cemetery?

Former Air Malta chairman Albert Mizzi in an interview carried in The Sunday Times on March 25, 2012 stated: “I remember one time when someone mentioned something to him about corruption. He turned to me and said, ‘is it true?’ I replied: ‘That what’s people are saying’. His response was: ‘What can I do if that person has helped me to build up the party? Can I take action against him?’ You see, this is small Malta.”

That is Dom, the giant surrounded by pygmies: those who helped him build his party and then proceeded to squeeze it dry until the pips squealed.

Respecting Dom also means self-respect. Respect  the facts.  When this is done we can give the man his due.

originally published at di-ve.com

On this blog you can read the following additional posts on Dom MINTOFF :

21st August 2012 : Dom’s legacy

21st August 2012 : Dom Mintoff

22nd June 2012 : Dom Mintoff fuq in-Net TV.

5th May 2012 : Dom Mintoff : a political bully.

23rd April 2012 : Thanks O Lord for giving us DOM.

1st April 2012: Should we thank Dom?

Dom Mintoff: a political bully

The film Dear Dom has elicited contrasting reactions. It reflects the whims of the man. Initially being way ahead of his contemporaries, he ended up detached from the effects of the changes which he pursued.

He rightly wanted Malta to exit the soonest from its Middle Ages. The temporal powers of the Church run by an archbishop-prince and the colonial rulers were his first targets. Deliberately he opted to bully his way through. The bulldozer was Dom Mintoff’’s preferred operational tool and strategy. Initially used against the colonisers and the Church it was subsequently used by Mr Mintoff against his own people.

His oratory as well as his negotiating skills were central throughout his political career. He radically reformed and expanded the welfare state created by his predecessor as Prime Minister and Labour leader, Sir Paul Boffa, whom he toppled after accusing him of not being capable of standing up to the colonial masters.

Mr Mintoff’s strategy of seeking to improve the nation’s standard of living through integration with the UK stood in stark contrast to that of his nemesis George Borg Olivier who opted for independence as the tool to improve Malta’s living conditions. Mr Mintoff’s strategy to achieve integration failed and eventually he turned to Plan B: to follow the road leading to independence, patiently developed by Dr Borg Olivier. He couldn’t stand that, as playing second fiddle was not his game.

Dr Borg Olivier was patient. Mr Mintoff was not. Independence for Dr Borg Olivier was a gradual process starting with the essentials of self-government and slowly building up the county’s infrastructure: a prerequisite for its social and economic development. That was too slow for Mr Mintoff’s temperament. His attitude was one seeking absolute control at day one. His pace was much faster than Dr Borg Olivier could ever get accustomed to. This was reflected in Mr Mintoff’s style of negotiations, in his demands and in the stormy foreign relations which developed as a result of his approach.

Mr Mintoff’s followers embarked on many a violent spree. One may trace the justification of violence as a political tool in the debate and declarations leading to the Independence Round Table Conference, in particular in what are known as Labour’s six political points (is-sitt punti). Lino Spiteri interviewed in Dear Dom, qualifies this reference to violence as a necessary tool in the rebellion against the colonial powers. While that was indeed one of its earliest manifestations, unfortunately it eventually became a tool for all seasons, when Mr Mintoff lost control of the hangers-on which surrounded him, including the notorious members of his Cabinets, those who had their own “bully boys”.

Violence shamed Mr Mintoff and the Labour Party many a time, most notably when The Times was burnt down on Black Monday, October 15, 1979. In 1984 even his handpicked successor was embarrassed when supporters (labelled as the aristocracy of the working class) went berserk at the Archbishop’s Curia and destroyed all they could see.

Mr Mintoff was not capable of standing up to the criminal behaviour which slowly developed around him until it engulfed him and his party. This was recently described by former Air Malta chairman Albert Mizzi in an interview carried in The Sunday Times on March 25. Mr Mizzi stated: “I remember one time when someone mentioned something to him about corruption. He turned to me and said, is it true? I replied: ‘That what’s people are saying’. His response was: ‘What can I do if that person has helped me to build up the party? Can I take action against him?’ You see, this is small Malta.” That is Mr Mintoff at the mercy of his sycophants: those who helped him build his party and then proceeded to squeeze it dry until the pips squealed.

Bullying of opponents was an essential characteristic of Mr Mintoff’s method of government. Obviously those who benefited from his methods and actions think otherwise.

They consider it as a minor and insignificant blip. Those at the receiving end tend however to recognise it as an essential element of the man’s method. Positive politics is less relevant if the implementation method adopted is unacceptable. As a result Labour’s achievements under his leadership related to the welfare state and the general upgrading of the rights of working men and women will be forever overshadowed.

Coercive methods were characteristic of the man who sought to achieve his targets by hook or by crook. The shareholders of the National Bank of Malta, their heirs and all those who stood in his way are living testimony to Mr Mintoff’s methods. He bullied his way through all opposition: in his party, in Parliament, in civil society, in industrial relations and in the economy. His bullying of intellectuals bequeathed an inheritance of mediocrity to his Labour Party.

When the historical dust will have settled there will be one issue which sticks out in defining the man. It will not be the welfare state but his political bullying which shaped his party for a generation.

published in The Times of Malta, May 5, 2012

Should we thank Dom ?

Yana Mintoff Bland has demanded that her father Dom be shown the respect which she claims he deserves.

The Times in its comments quoted Yana Mintoff Bland as objecting to her father  Dom Mintoff being  “shown as being partisan and interested only in his supporters.”

It was only last week that The Sunday Times reporting an interview with Albert Mizzi former Chairman of Air Malta quoted Mr Mizzi as saying the following about her father  :

“I remember one time when someone mentioned something to him about corruption. He turned to me and said, is it true? I replied: ‘That what’s people are saying’. His response was: ‘What can I do if that person has helped me to build up the party? Can I take action against him?’ You see, this is small Malta.”

Being a Mintoff supporter in those days paid huge dividends.

I have already in the past put on record my own stories about pressures exerted by Dom Mintoff through a PN politician as well as through an army official for me to withdraw a human rights case in Malta’s Constitutional Court against one of his Cabinet Ministers. I did not budge but the pressure kept mounting. And on top of all that I even had my professional warrant as an architect withheld for 4 years after graduating. A fact also confirmed by the Injustces Commission which investigated my claims.

My experiences are just one of the many which those who disagreed with or criticised Dom’s government and methods suffered repeatedly.

A few did not survive to recount their ordeal as they paid with their lives. It that sense I may be lucky, but that is nothing to thank Dom about.

Żejtun Airways

Fl-intervista tiegħu fis-Sunday Times ta’ nhar il-Ħadd li għadda, Bertie Mizzi, li kien l-ewwel Chairman tal-Air Malta, fisser kif sa mill-bidunett kienu jittieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet fl-Air Malta meta kienu jimpjegaw in-nies mal-kumpanija.

Fl-intervista jingħad is-segwenti :

“When I was at Air Malta, at Budget time the minister used to go around to see what employment he could factor in for the following year.

“He’d say: ‘Who will Air Malta be employing next year? I’d reply, ‘nobody, because we don’t need anyone’. And the response would be that the airline had to take at least 100 people whether you like it or not.”

Ic-Chairman dak iż-żmien kien Bertie Mizzi. Il-Ministru kien il-Membru Parlamentari elett miż-Żejtun, Wistin Abela.

Għalhekk dak iż-żmien l-Air Malta kienet qiesha Żejtun Airways!

PS : Għal iżjed dettalji aqra Air Malta: a reminder is always useful.   Tiffriska ftit il-memorja!

Bertie Mizzi u Manoel Island

Bertie Mizzi jrid idaħħaq.

Fl-intervista fuq is-Sunday Times tal-Ħadd li għadda qalilna li l-politiċi kollha (ħlief dawk li kienu Prim Ministri) għandhom nuqqas fid-dipartiment tal-onesta. Il-Prim Ministri kollha li ħadem magħhom, qalilna, kienu kollha nies ta’ subgħajhom dritt. Ikun hemm ċans nikkummenta fuq dan. Illum ser nillimita ruħi ghal dak li qal dwar Manoel Island.

Berti jidher li beda jikkonverti. Qalilna li minkejja li qabbad l-aħjar nies illum qed jifforma opinjoni oħra differenti (għandu second thoughts) dwar l-iżvilupp ta’ Tigne. Jikkonsla għax jgħid li tagħmel x’tagħmel dejjem ser issib x’tikkritika!

Berti lest biex ma jagħmel xejn, qal, (l-ebda żvilupp fuq Manoel Island) jekk ikun ikun ikkumpensat għall-ispejjes li għamel (expenses and unrecoverable costs jgħid Bertie).

Jidher li Bertie inkwietat : We will not be accused of raping Manoel Island when it was the government that issued this tender in the first place.”

Ir-responsabbilta’ ghar-“rape of Manoel Island” qed jgħidilna Bertie Mizzi hi tal-Gvern, mhux tiegħu! Mhux biss, qalilna ukoll li l-Parlament kollu qabel miegħu għax il-proposta għall-iżvilupp ta’ Manoel Island kienet approvata unanimament mill-Parlament.

Dan kollu (li l-Parlament approva l-proposta għal-iżvilupp ta’ Manoel Island b’vot unanimu) ma jfissirx li din hi deċiżjoni tajba. Ifisser biss li fid-dinja tal-flus il-PN u l-PL m’hemmx x’tagħżel bejniethom.

It-tnejn jaqblu ma Bertie Mizzi li hu fil-business. U għal Bertie business is business!

AIR MALTA : a reminder is always useful

 
 
The Times Logo

Thursday, February 17, 2011 ,

by

Michael Mallia

Air Malta: The politicians’ milch cow

Finally, the Air Malta pigeons, whether leaded or otherwise, are coming home to roost. And during their flight over the years, starting from the early 1970s to date, we, the public, have had to pay the price to nurture what has been also a prime politicians’ cow, serving as one of the major founts of political (and vote-getting) patronage.

Yes. it is the politicians and not its employees who made the airline into what it has sadly become, verging on the brink of extinction. The concept of setting it up was very sound and far-sighted, indeed one major political plus. But the subsequent “use” of the airline as a politicians’ milch cow eroded the originally very sound idea.

I was asked into Air Malta’s board of directors in July 1987 by the late Joseph Fenech, then responsible for the airline. The 1987 board, chaired like most of those before it by Albert Mizzi, had to deal with two major political scandals. One was that some 250 or so employees (totally unrequired) were taken on by Minister Wistin Abela in the run up to the 1987 election. Two was the fact that a substantial number of the lowest level employees were given promotions in the same 1987 electoral run-up. This was done on the strength of a flimsy excuse for an interview, in each case, where employees were asked the equivalent of name, rank and serial number and, subsequently, promoted.

Just stop and add up what the 250 odd extras employed in early 1987 as well as those promoted at the same time have amounted to in cost and your mind starts to boggle.

But there is more, much more.

First of all, our 1987 board could perforce only do justice by those not promoted pre-1987 elections, of various hues and colours, by upgrading them to the level of those irregularly promoted. Even in so doing we found massive resistance from the resident trade union supposed to defend the rights of and rectify the wrongs and injustices done to employees.

As a board we also found something, if my memory serves me right, like 1,420 employees and we determined not to let this number rise despite substantial political pressure to the contrary. When we were removed in 1992 I believe we more or less left the employee level around the same we had found it; believe me a remarkable achievement!

I must add that, in 1987, I was one of the persons who was stating the airline should do with half of its workforce if it were to survive and this is quite close to the figure being mooted today – of about 700! I got to this figure simply by looking at the operations of other airlines of the time, such as Air Europe. Obviously, in those better times a gradual workforce reduction would have been planned.

In 1992, the mathematics started to take off again. The board of 1992-1997, chaired by Joseph N. Tabone, left the airline with some 1,750 employees, another massive increase of 300 employees plus. Now work out the figures for that too!

Then comes along the next board following the Labour Party electoral victory of 1996, chaired by Louis Grech, now of Euro parliamentary fame. This chairman was retained by the Nationalist government of 1998 till the switch of Air Malta minister, from Josef Bonnici to Austin Gatt. Some shocking financial remuneration numbers came out at this point of ministerial change, a far cry from the few hundred of Malta liri we received per annum as board members (which I ensured were paid to a charity). And, in Mr Grech’s tenure, Air Malta’s workforce rose to over 2,000 employees. Now work that out too!

The end result: an airline that should have functioned with some 600 to 700 employees ended up with a workforce of over 2,000 employees! Now that is really something.

Well done to all concerned!