‘Secretive, ruthless... unpredictable tyrant’
World media’s take on the death of Dom Mintoff
The New York Times described Dom Mintoff as “secretive, unpredictable and, to enemies, a ruthless tyrant. But to admirers, he was the father of modern Malta.”
“In an often-conquered land... Mr Mintoff fiercely sought an end to Malta’s exploitation by foreign powers, a revival of national dignity and economic and diplomatic ties with nations that could underwrite Maltese neutrality,” according to the 1,200-word article in The New York Times.
The former Prime Minister’s death elicited wide coverage in the world media, with many recalling his unpredictable nature of negotiating, especially on the international stage.
The New York Times article highlighted how his efforts to “play foreign rivals against one another” would often work, but his domestic politics were “fair game for critics, who charged that he corrupted democracy by using patronage, gerrymandering, legislation of doubtful constitutionality, even goon squads at the polls and physical bullying”.
By the time he resigned as Prime Minister in 1984, Mr Mintoff had “set his nation on a road to self-sufficiency with a welfare state, socialised medicine, diversified industries and most of its trade and tourism coming from the West,” The New York Times concluded.
The BBC called Mr Mintoff: “a skilful and confident administrator and a tough negotiator; short in physical stature and fond of pipe-smoking and horse-riding, but with an enormous capacity for hard work.”
The 1976 election that returned Mr Mintoff to power for a third term “brought a considerable increase in political violence”, the BBC wrote.
Nationalist clubs were “attacked and wrecked by faceless men who seemed to be above the law”.
For the Financial Times, Mr Mintoff was “one of those nationalist leaders whom the British media loved to hate, in the generation which saw the end of the British empire”.
He had traits in common with Mohammed Mossadeq of Iran, Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, “but perhaps more resembled those Commonwealth leaders who, like him, had been to Britain for higher education, married British wives, and came away with a deeply ambivalent attitude to the ‘mother country’”.
Mr Mintoff’s talents as a politician and administrator, and even his personal charm, were widely acknowledged, the Financial Times wrote.
But he “will be remembered mainly as the leader of a very small country who too often felt obliged to assert himself by rude and quarrelsome behaviour. This made him many enemies.”
The London Evening Standard, meanwhile, wrote that Mr Mintoff’s daughter Yana, who is expected to be a candidate for the Labour Party at the next Maltese election, was “as active and confrontational a politician as her father”, recalling her incident in the House of Commons in 1978.