A letter to Dom
All mortals have one common fate, that one day or another we have to depart from this material world. In spite of the fact that particular symptoms and signs were visible,the departure of a person still brings about grief and a sense of emptiness. In this sense, rightly so, we all feel that we have been orphaned as Dom Mintoff had great influence on the shaping of our nation, especially after the Second World War period up to early 80’s.
Dom Mintoff has dominated the local political scene for over 70 years and undoubtedly he has been one of the leading political figures of the last century. His vision to transform our island, from a fortress island serving the needs of our colonial masters and massively economically dependent on jobs generated by their military presence, into a proud nation equally to all nations, certainly was the fundamental underlining inspiration throughout his political career.
The poverty and physical devastation of the Second World War within the surrounding inner harbour towns and villages certainly ignited his quest to focus all his energy to alleviate the standard of living a give the much deserved dignity to the working class. A working class that at the time did not enjoy any rights whatsoever, were poorly paid, uneducated, lived in sub-standard housing and were without any prospects for them and their families.
‘Integration or self-determination’ was precisely inspired by the fact that we are either considered as equals as our colonial masters or else we seek our own way on how to become a nation and prosper. The building of new schools to educate the working class and the long and rugged way for self-determination, characterized the years 1955- 58 when he was in office as Prime Minister.
A convenient way of how to hold control over colonies was to ‘divide and rule’ adopted by the British colonizers and this reached its peak in the 60s when Mintoff and his Labour Party had to face the mortal sin imposed by the local archdioceses. Throughout this black period in our history, Mintoff and all Labour Party supporters were persecuted, humiliated and demonized. This is the price they had to pay for their firm beliefs in the freedom of expression, the freedom of association and civil rights and liberties.
The years that followed, Mintoff was once again in office as Prime Minister and it was precisely during these years that poverty was eradicated, substantial improvement in the standard of living was made, slum clearance programmes were created, new housing estates were built, extensive works with regards to the development of infrastructure were conducted, a new air strip was built, AirMalta and SeaMalta were set up, a new Freeport was built, university courses fees were removed, telecommunications were widened, a welfare state that cares for everyone was developed, national health care was created, the country became economically independent, local commercial banks were strenghtened, the military base closed and above all, the working class was given the dignity it deserves. The security of foreign aid to develop economically a strong nation was fundamental in the building of a modern country.
The transformation brought about by their vision and mission shapes the dimension of a political leader and his/her place in the history of a country. The grandeur of Dom Mintoff as political leader is unquestionably reflected in the way he transformed and reformed the whole country especially throughout the 70s. Surely he was a visionary, reformist, a great thinker, communicator and doer. Similar to all leaders, there were those who throughout his political career admired him to the extent of associating themselves as ‘Mintoffjani’ and others who were at odds with his vision and ways of implementing particular policies. For being a true patriot, a socialist who had at heart the interest of the working class and for believing in social rights and liberties, Mintoff as leader of the Labour Party was persecuted and demonized by those who believed that he was a communist, anti-clerical and despotic.
Dear Dom, the spirit you ignited years ago and the movement you led to alleviate and ameliorate the standard of living of all working people, the sincere patriotic love for our country and securing social rights and liberties should continue to form part of our guiding light. Your patriotic maxim that united this movement for many years of ‘Malta l-ewwel u qabel kollox’ shall continue to earnestly inspire us to work for our country to become a strong modern nation in Europe.