'Hard times create strong leaders': Abela harks back to Sette Giugno in Freedom Day speech

Abela paid tribute to Dom Mintoff and George Borg Olivier, drawing comparisons between 1919 and the post-pandemic challenges of today

Prime Minister Robert Abela paid tribute to his predecessors Dom Mintoff and George Borg Olivier in his Freedom Day speech, harking back to the events of Sette Giugno and how it paved the way for Maltese independence. 

Addressing party supporters at the Freedom Monument in Vittoriosa, Abela said Sette Giugno was a significant moment, "where the Maltese people rose up against the forces that, after a pandemic and war, left them broken".

He argued that the Colonial government at the time did not have the interest of Maltese workers in mind, especially when faced with rising prices brought on from the international crisis at the time.

"Our forefathers responded and stood up for their rights [...] the events of 1919 slowly led to Freedom Day, and to the birth of the Labour Party," he said as the crowd cheered. 

He pinned Malta's success in achieving independence to George Borg Olivier, the prime minister who led negotiations towards an independent Malta. 

"Thanks to the work of George Borg Olivier, we achieved independence and we became a nation. Then it was Dom Mintoff that made this nation a Republic."

On Mintoff, Abela said that the former Labour Party prime minister defied warnings that Malta would not have survived without serving as a military base. "The forces of the past tried to stop the future. They failed."

He drew comparisons between the problems of their era and the modern challenges faced by Malta today. "The COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down. But this time, the Maltese people enjoyed stronger footing. Above all, the Maltese people found a leader that remained with them throughout, and will continue to do so."

Having led the Labour Party through a landslide victory at last weekend's general election, Abela thanked the public for putting their trust in the Labour Party. 

More so, he insisted that the Labour Party must scrutinise government's work where it sees fit. "Let's see how and where we can do better. We are humble. And I said already that we will build this legislature on this humility. The larger your trust is in us, the more we need to keep grounded."