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?