It was an irony Dom Mintoff would have cursed. As Malta digested news that arguably its best known personality had died at the age of 96, it was his long-time political adversary who set the tone. With no hesitation, Eddie Fenech Adami stated that the former Labour Prime Minister’s contribution to political development was more positive than negative.

Disconcertingly, it was Dr Fenech Adami’s natural supporters who raised eyebrows – some were openly critical – at this comment.

Yet not only did they ignore the tail-end of that quote, “many of us remember the negative side of his politics”, but to be surprised at this comment depicts a total lack of understanding of the former Nationalist Prime Minister.

For starters, Dr Fenech Adami – unlike Mr Mintoff – is no enigma. He has throughout his career spoken his mind and stated his objectives clearly, while shedding blood, sweat and more than a few tears to achieve them. He has also been Malta’s most consistent politician.

He was never afraid to go against the popular sentiment of his supporters; not when some were advocating retaliation in the 1980s while he was urging calm – there is no doubt he was proved right on that – and certainly not now.

No one suffered more at the hands of the Mintoff regime than he did, no one fought against it harder; but together with Guido de Marco he recognised that the path to lasting peace lay not in hating his political adversary, but rather in engaging in unfailing political dialogue.

Their ability to rise above the mire, such a rare quality, made it possible for Malta to break free from a terrible era of political violence over which Mr Mintoff – at times willingly, at times not – presided.

That said, Mr Mintoff played his part too. While people on the outside saw only the aggressive bluster of the Labour Prime Minister, Dr Fenech Adami and Prof. de Marco were privy to a private willingness to find a solution. They nurtured it, they lived it. Few saw that, so few are in a position to comment.

Without doubt, Mr Mintoff took Malta to the brink – as he did with everything – and he deserves criticism for that, but together with those two Nationalist protagonists he pulled it back.

Dr Fenech Adami – being the giant he is, being the Christian who lives and not just talks his faith that he is – was able to set apart all the personal pain, not least harrowing memories of his home being attacked in 1979 and his late wife being beaten, to make an objective judgment on how, to him, the figure of Dom Mintoff stands in Maltese history; in the history the two of them formed, occasionally together and more often in spite of each other.

It has been the role of this media organisation to follow that course of history. The people who have worked here have painstakingly documented it – all of it – to the best of their ability and have suffered along the way too.

Our mission is to continue to do that; to cover events that make history, untinged by personal feeling which has no space in objective reportage.

We would be failing our readers if we did otherwise, and point to every past edition of The Times and The Sunday Times – particularly those that provided a blow by blow account of the 1970s and 1980s, when this organisation at times stood alone – as a living monument of our unrivalled ability to do this.

And yes, now that he is buried let us entertain a discussion on the good, the bad and the ugly of Dom Mintoff. There is much to say. Our only hope is that people can approach the subject with the sufficient knowledge and maturity to say it.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.