Labour leader Joseph Muscat mourns ‘architect of free Malta’

Labour leader Joseph Muscat expresses his grief at Dom Mintoff’s passing away, hailing him as “the architect of a free Malta.”

Former Labour leader Dom Mintoff.
Former Labour leader Dom Mintoff.

Minutes after the news of Dom Mintoff's death, a moved Labour leader Joseph Muscat said "today we have all been orphaned."

Muscat who visited Mintoff's home in Tarxien soon after the former prime minister died aged 96 this evening noted that Mintoff died in peace, at home, surrounded by his children "as was his wish."

The Labour leader described his predecessor as "the architect of a free Malta, a giant in Malta's political history."

Muscat explained that in recent weeks it was evident that Mintoff's health was precarious but the former Labour leader showed incredible strength and recovered. "We hoped the same would happen today," Muscat noted.

"We say so as Labourites and Maltese. We are aware of Mintoff's controversial figure but those who held him in high esteem and those who criticised him must recognise that Malta would not be what it6 is today without this man."

Muscat stressed that "against all odds, Mintoff put this rock on the world map and the world started taking Malta seriously."

Muscat said he only Mintoff  for the first time 20 years ago and said "his vision and energy were impressive."

The Labour leader added that while working on his thesis he spoke at length with Mintoff and said the former Prime Minister's insight, love for his country and his unprecedented love for the workers were unmatched.

"Mintoff did not want a monument but he built a living monument for himself through social benefits such as pensions, children's allowance, the free medical service, free tuition, stipends, the minimum wage, the right to sick leave, equal rights for women, the right to vote at 18, the separation of church and state and the decimalisation of homosexuality."

Muscat said there had been times when there were difficulties between the Labour Party and Mintoff in recent years, but added that he was "pleased that over the past four years that chapter was closed."

A shaken Muscat expressed his gratitude towards Mintoff for everything he had done for the country and added "today we cry him without any shame."

The Nationalist Party said Dom Mintoff "doubtlessly was one of the biggest Maltese political figures who dominated the political scene for more that 50 years."

However the PN noted that the differences between the party and Mintoff "are well documented."

"At this moment the PN conveys its condolences to the Dom Mintoff's family and the Labour Party," the PN statement said.

As tributes to the former premier Dom Mintoff continued to pour in, Alternattiva Demokratika expressed its condolences to the family and closest friends of Dom Mintoff following his passing away.

AD Chairperson Michael Briguglio, said: "Mintoff was one of Malta's most important political figures, and he will be remembered for progressive reforms such as the construction of a welfare state despite his controversial behaviour, such as his authoritarian governance."

Joining the political parties, the University's Students Council, KSU, also expressed its condolences to the passing away of Mintoff.

Whilst thanking him for his contribution to the Maltese political scene, KSU thanked Mintoff for his work as a member of the KSU, then known as the Students' Representative Council (SRC).

Mintoff had served as a member of the SRC as a member and eventually as a secretary for three years, from 1934 till 1937.

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