Tributes pour in for ‘exemplary gentleman’ Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici

Nations’ leaders, MPs and politicians remember former Labour prime minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici

Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici
Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici

Prime Minister Robert Abela paid tribute to the memory of Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, the former Labour prime minister who died at the age of 89 on Saturday.


“He was a gentleman who gave an enormous contribution to the workers’ cause, with his role in politics, trade unions and his legal profession... in all our discussions, over a coffee before court, I admired his sense of service to the less fortunate. He loved the worker, and loved his country – an exemplary man to many.”

His niece Paula Mifsud Bonnici, a Nationalist MP and daughter of former PN minister Antoine Mifsud Bonnici, described him as a “great uncle” who would be missed for his sense of humour, kindness, and humility. “We will love you forever.”

Alfred Sant, former Labour PM and successor to Mifsud Bonnici, described him as a man of long-term vision, who knew well the lot of the working man, a Christian-socialist who had no sense of personal ambition, greed or hatred for others.

“Indeed at times he was too forgiving, graced as he was with his great technical and professional intelligence. Despite the malicious caricatures of the man, it was the humanity he showed in his public and private behaviour that shined the most.”

Opposition leader Bernard Grech offered his condolences to the Mifsud Bonnici family. “I salute his memory... he was a man who worked with strength and determination for what he believed in.”

A gushing tribute came from former President of the Republic, and former Labour minister Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, whose political career as MLP president started in earnest at the time of Mifsud Bonnici’s premiership.

“He was much loved, and I learnt from him the values of respect and boundless love for the working class and the vulnerable,” she said in a Facebook post.

He taught me what it mean to serve in politics, and not be served... what sacrifice meant, not seeking compensation, to be principled... never to corrupt yourself for money or prestige, to be humble... to have an open heart, ready to listen and listen, and not to be passive in the face of others’ suffering.

Coleiro Preca said Mifsud Bonnici had been judged unfairly for his dedication to the working class, to which he remained silence. “He allowed that harsh criticism to be visited upon him.”

She said whoever had worked alongside him, knew who he really was. “They saw his altruism, what a gentleman and a socialist he was.”

The former Labour foreign minister Evarist Bartolo said Mifsud Bonnici was an “exemplary gentleman, an honest politician, rare in the way he dedicated his life to his country and a just society that safeguards workers’ rights and those in need. He truly served, and did use politics for some slogan.”

The Labour minister Michael Falzon said Mifsud Bonnici had worked hard for social justice for the working class. “These socialist principles are the roots of our party as a government and a Labour Movement.”

Labour minister Owen Bonnici, whose legal practice started by the side of Mifsud Bonnici, said the former Labour leader possessed “immense intelligence, an incredible sense of humour, absolutely uninterested in life’s materialism”.

“I’d say he loved Malta, and Gozo even more, perhaps even more than Mintoff himself – he certainly never was scared to swim against the current.”

Bonnici said few knew that Mifsud Bonnici, a pious Catholic, provided the clothes with which MUSEUM founder Gorg Preca, now a Catholic saint, was buried in.

“He had a sweet-tooth, always insisting he drive me – not the other way around – in his Beetle, and that he holds the umbrella when it rained. He’d say, ‘I’m used to being under the umbrella’.”

The independent candidate Arnold Cassola said Mifsud Bonnici had “made many political mistakes, but he was an honest politician.”