Felix Agius, veteran journalist of loyal Labour stock, passes away aged 73

Labour pays tribute to ‘voice that furthered socialist principles’, former leaders Alfred Sant and Joseph Muscat salute ‘redoutable editor’

Felix Agius
Felix Agius

Felix Agius, a stalwart of the Labour Party’s press and editor of its first Sant-era newspaper, KullĦadd, has died aged 73.

An authoritative interlocutor for Labour’s policies to the reading public, Agius was equally a staunch critic of the Nationalist Party, turning the new Labour organ that replaced Il-Ħelsien in the 1990s into an investigative newspaper. The Labour Party paid tribute to Agius as a prominent voice in the furthering of socialist principles.

Born 21 March, 1948, Agius obtained a diploma in journalism from the International Institute of Journalism in Berlin, and started his career at around the age of 26, writing for the Labour newspaper Iż-Żmien. After joining Union Press as sub-editor for the English-language Malta News, he was appointed editor of l-Oriżżont in 1981. In 1992, he took over the fledgling KullĦadd.

In his memoirs, former Labour prime minister Alfred Sant described Agius as having possessed a “keen edged style of reporting and doing things masked under the appearance of caution, indeed hesitancy.” In the mid-1980s, Agius was drafted to help Labour build its budding information department, together with Sant, Victor Cassar, Godfrey Pirotta, Anton Cassar, and Charles Mizzi.

On Facebook, Sant mourned the loss of a “dear friend and colleague”.

“I’ve always found Feliċ Agius to be a man of great intelligence and diligence, loyal to his principles, his family, Labour, and his country,” Sant said, having drafted him to steward KullĦadd as well as assist the One TV and radio newsroom. “He was the best of help to bring up a new generation of journalists and broadcasters. In all he did, Feliċ Agius was generous in his priceless contribution.”

Sant said he was aware of Agius’s deteriorating health but was surprised at his hasty passing. “I have fond memories of our friendship and of collaboration in both difficult and happier moments.”

The former Labour prime minister Joseph Muscat described Agius as a redoubtable editor who had shepherded a new generation of Labour Party journalists. “He kept writing even after his editorship ran its course, having been the mind behind many of the One Radio ‘commentaries’.”

Muscat said Agius had personally asked the then-MEP to run for leader of the Labour Party after Sant’s resignation.

“I told him I would not be made to pass through what Alfred had been through, nor let anything happen to my family, especially to my newborn children. He said he understood me, but such was the destiny for any Labour leader. ‘They wanted to crucify Mintoff, they called Mifsud Bonnici weak, and they jeered at Sant on all matters personal. If they praise you, it means you’re not doing it right’.”

The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) also saluted Agius's memory and offered its condolences to his family and friends.