A monument for Dom

The monument proposed by the Ghaqda Duminku Mintoff reminds one of the way great leaders are portrayed in countries where democracy is considered an unwanted luxury

If some reports are to be believed, we may well end up with some five different monuments for Dom Mintoff.

If Lorry Sant has one, it would make sense for Dom to have five, I suppose! But actually there is no better way than to devalue the man than having cheap monuments to him by the dozen.

In truth, the proposed statue of Dom Mintoff that was selected by the Labour Party, the work of renowned sculptor Noel Galea Bason, probably does him more credit than he deserves. He is portrayed as a young, left-wing intellectual in the late 40s, fresh from his meetings of the Fabian Society back in Malta to start the revolution that would make us all equal to the British.

The idea that Malta could live it alone had not yet dawned upon him then, and he considered this an impossible pipedream - probably with a hidden irredentist agenda - of the pro-Italian Nationalist Party. He preferred us to become British and enjoy the standard of living that was prevalent in the Britain where he had lived while pursuing his studies at Oxford. In the immediate post-war period, there was a chasm between the social standards of the British people - with their social services - and that of the natives on this small island colony in the middle of the Mediterranean. This irked Dom Mintoff no end, and his immediate focus was to find ways to raise the standard of living of the Maltese working class to the level of the British. Hence the integration idea that would make us as British as they come!

It was not to be. Thank God, many would say in hindsight. So Labour's monument to Dom celebrates a young man full of dreams for his native country, dreams that would raise the hordes of native unemployed to a life that would be relatively more comfortable, abetted by a social safety net that his countrymen had never even dreamt about. It was in these circumstances that he was acknowledged by many as the great deliverer - the messiah that would lead the Maltese people to the promised land of milk and honey.

The failure of this plan and the switch of his vision for Malta to that of an independent, neutral country living off heavy industries and foreign aid (paid by those who would consider this neutrality to be to their advantage) were yet to come. As for tourism, many more years would have to pass before he started to see the economic benefits of such a servile vocation. He once even warned that we had to be wary, lest Malta become a "country of waiters".

So Labour has chosen to celebrate Dom Mintoff's memory in a way that, perhaps, most expresses his original political spirit: the spirit that a later Mintoff practically abandoned when he gradually assumed more importance than the party he led and played havoc with the democratic principles that were part and parcel of the soul of his party, as envisaged by those who had founded it.

Yet Mintoff was always a divisive influence. He thrived on division: attacking the enemy gave his followers the strength coming from unity of purpose. At first the enemy was the social conditions that he sought to overcome. Then he realised the real problem was that we were a colony and the way the British governed us solely in their interest as a leading military power. He also realised that the local Church was in cahoots with the British - an unholy alliance that held the rights of the Maltese people in abeyance. When he overcame these obstacles, he had to find another enemy and opted for his party's political adversaries, treating them so shabbily that he provoked a popular reaction that strengthened them and eventually led to his downfall.

This other facet of Mintoff's life is nowhere to be seen in the Galea Bason sculpture that the Labour Party will be erecting in Mintoff's native Bormla.

It is the maverick organisation Ghaqda Duminku Mintoff that has taken the challenge to remind us of Dom Mintoff's 'glory' as the great leader who kicked out the British and liberated the Maltese worker. And it is proposing to celebrate Dom Mintoff's memory not with one but three monuments, one of which would be a piece of kitsch also to be erected in Dom's birthplace of Bormla - one that reflects the inane vulgarity of those who believed that Dom Mintoff was a demigod. Some, obviously, still do.

The proposed monument reminds one of the way great leaders are portrayed in countries where democracy is considered an unwanted luxury. Perhaps it is indeed appropriate. Under the guiding hand of Dom, placed on a raised pedestal - in a posture that reminds one of Kim Il-sung or some other such dictator - there are two British sailors packing to leave and go back home, while a male worker toils at stone dressing and a woman (presumably his wife) looks on while tending to two kids. The limited vision portrayed by this scenario says it all. The message is that male destiny is to toil at the foot of the great leader, while female destiny is to raise children!

Perhaps they could add a monitor with a coin-operated video showing the infamous North Korean welcome in Pyongyang when an operatic choir sang 'Ma taghmlu xejn mal-perit Mintoff'. What better way to celebrate and recall the memory of the dark side of Dom Mintoff?

Maybe some would think this is crazy. It could be, but it should also serve as an eye-opening reminder of the facet of Dom Mintoff that Labour seems intent at concealing: a part of its history that is more negative than positive and cost it a quarter of a century languishing on the Opposition benches.

It is said that one should say only good things about the dead - de mortuis nil nisi bene - although the Bard somehow put it the other way around: "Tthe evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones".

But Dom Mintoff, who defied convention in his life and his memory, is set to defy convention after his death as well.

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Luke Camilleri
You said it at the start or your BLOG, did not need to read the whole article ~ A GREAT LEADER! ~~~~~~~~~~~ Even if you your best to insult and disrupt his peaceful retirement by proposing and building the Marsaxlokk Power station with its monstrous chimney ON HIS DOORSTEP!