Tifkira ta' Dom Mintoff fil-Kamra tad-Deputati Parlament ta' Malta
6 ta’ Awwissu 1916 – 20 ta’ Awissu 2012
Membru tal-Kamra tad-Deputati bejn it-22 ta' Novembru 1945 u t-3 ta' Awwissu 1998
L-EWWEL DISKORS TA’ DOM MINTOFF FIL-KAMRA TAD-DEPUTATI PARLAMENT TA’ MALTA
ESTRATT MIS-SEDUTA NUMRU 3 TAL-ĦAMIS, 6 TA’ DIĊEMBRU 1945 TAL-KUNSILL TAL-GVERN IT-TIENI LEĠIŻLATURA
HON MR MINTOFF: Rightly or wrongly, I look upon the Address from the Throne as a pronouncement of Government policy during this Session of the Council and in the interim period prior to self-government. I will, therefore, drop all the traditional and rather old-fashioned epithets contained in the motion of thanks and speak in a language ordinary people may understand. When I hurried out of the Council soon after the delivery Address, I heard two young men chanting in chorus. Without any apologies to Wordsworth they were singing: “For men may come and men may go but Campbell’s nothingness stays on forever”. With this Address, the Government has wrecked all chances of co-operation between the representatives of the people and the official side. The Government has tried to thwart all the aims and aspirations that the Labour Government of Great Britain and the Labour Party of Malta, the only legal non-official majority in this Island, are trying to promote. The Address accuses the Government of hobnobbing with our local reactionaries. Unlike many of our friends, we, on this side of the House, have not yet lost faith in our socialist comrades of Great Britain (Hon Members: Hear, hear). We know that they are being misinformed, when, and if, they are being informed at all. How could we otherwise explain the discrepancy in ideals and aspirations that exist between these words in the Address: “…… the policy of His Majesty’s Government towards Malta was unchanged” and the following extract: “One cannot help hoping that as the years go by we will see some really bold experimentation, some approach of so markedly courageous a nature that a new spirit will be infused into the relationship between Britain and the Colonial peoples. This is perhaps more necessary in Colonial Affairs even than in home affairs …… The channels of communication between the Colonial People and the British Government are narrow and few …… It will be too easy for colonial spokesmen to damn the Labour Government as soon as they find that all their woes are not being immediately redressed …… The straightforward but necessary measures already being taken will mean nothing to them unless something is done to fire their imagination”. These sentences have been called from the official bulletin issued last month by the Fabian Colonial Bureau of which Mr. Arthur Creech Jones, the Under-Secretary of the State of the Colonies, is Chairman. (Hon Members: Hear, hear).
Here, therefore, we have Britain speaking a double language. Whom and what are we to believe? (Hon Members: Hear, hear). Our experiences in London during the brief visit we paid to England in August last, has shown us and taught us that in Britain there is a great sympathy and great earnestness in their desire to help. They know of Malta’s plight and they are quite ready to do their utmost in order to see that Malta does no longer suffer. Everywhere we went, whether in Labour or Conservatives circles, we met this sympathetic response. It is certain that we discovered not one symptom of the callousness embodied in the policy of laissez-faire and laissez aller which is really the main theme in the Address.
The Malta Labour Party has succeeded in driving underground Malta’s most despicable families (Hon Members: Hear, hear), but the same old conspirators are working overtime in order to wreck all our efforts at improving the economic and social conditions of the Island. On the one side we find the “Times of Malta” wasting pages and pages in praise of dictatorship and so-called one-man Government; on the other side we find Dr Mizzi – of whom I presume we have here a follower – claiming for himself the majority of those abstentionists who dared not vote against the Labour Party. Together with these two adversaries of the Labour Party we find the Government. It gingerly quotes percentages. I cannot understand why the Government has so gratuitously tried to quote percentages in an Address supposed to be serious and meant to outline the policy of the Government in the interim period. Perhaps the idea was to crush us, the majority side of the Council, into submission. When it comes to percentages – and here I think I can speak with some authority owing to my training – I am sure I can state without fear of contradiction that the Address from the Throne represents the political aspirations of exactly zero per cent of the people of Malta and of Great Britain (Hon Members: Hear, hear).
Nor have I much sympathy with the unadulterated lip-service to the cause freedom for which the men and women of the United Nations have worked, fought or died. They died for the eradication of privilege, the creation of conditions wherein equal opportunities for all may exist, the raising of the standard of living of the people of Malta to the English level (Hon Members: Hear, hear) and the forging of the bonds of brotherhood in lieu of the present domineering haughtiness so prevalent in most of the addresses of the authorities imported from Great Britain – and these are our aims. If the Government does not intend lifting one finger towards achieving, at least partially, some of these aims, then let us not desecrate the memory of the fallen. “It is essential that we prepare the way for a smooth transition into Responsible Government” states the Address. I fail to see what evidence the Government intends to give us in order to implement this promise. Already his honour the Lieutenant-Governer has told us that the Woods Report is an Imperial concern. I doubt the authority behind this pronouncement. I cannot believe that the Socialist Government of Great Britain is capable of refusing information on these matters. I believe that the Socialist Government of Great Britain has nothing to hide. (Hon Members: Hear, hear). I certainly hope it is a statement for which no one but the Hon Mr. Campbell is responsible. Sir Wilfred Woods had the unique opportunity to study all the financial conditions, all the chaotic financial conditions, into which five years of war and administrative incompetency have plunged the people of these Islands. No one barring Sir Wilfred Woods was given the necessary opportunities to undertake a painstaking investigation into our financial situation. Not even the members of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly, whom perhaps the present Administration now intends to make its scapegoats. That the expenses involved in the Woods’ Mission have been defrayed by the Imperial Government is not a decent reason why the Report should not be made public. If the people of Britain had to pay in terms £. s. d. for the services rendered by Malta during the war, then, indeed, we, the Maltese people, may all sit pretty and live happily ever after. To talk of the paltry sum involved in the Woods’ Mission is to reach the fathomless depths of insolence and absurdity. The delay in the arrival amongst us of the Commissioner is another pointer in the same direction. The National Assembly has now decided to withhold its report until the arrival of this Commissioner and until this Commissioner has given the members of the National Assembly an assurance that he is prepared to make offers. Times have changed. The Maltese people are not going to interview anybody and stand cap in hand begging for charity. It is true that they will carry no atom bombs in their vest pockets, but they will go armed, as we are armed, with moral right to exact what is fair and just (Hon Members: Hear, hear). They will not ask for gratitude, but they will ask for a response from the Imperial Government worthy of the ideals of democratic opportunity and equality which were so much advertised during this war.
Apart from the excuses brought forward by the Administration in its efforts to play for time, we view with deep concern the confusion that it has displayed in its little homily on the dangers of inflation. To speak of inflation when our currency is tied up with the comparatively limitless resources of the Bank of England, betrays an ignorance of the underlying principles of our peculiar national economic structure, seldom paraded in public before. Our entire national wealth constitutes but one drop in the ocean of British sterling and gold mines. It is extremely misleading to mix the ill effects of our internal lop-sided distribution of wealth with the meagreness of our national income. For the former only the present Administration is responsible, together perhaps with some individuals like the Hon Mr. Jones who has confused the profits tax with God knows what other forms of taxation.
It is the introduction of direct taxation that can adjust the former evil. The price of local produce for local consumption does not affect our national income in the least. I do not want to be misunderstood. These are two separate problems and they should be kept separate. The national income depends entirely on the amount of wages and salaries we are able to get from the Imperial Government. The larger the total amount of these salaries, the more shall we be in a position to import foodstuffs and other commodities essential for us in this century. That the available supplies in Africa and Italy are not within the reach of the ordinary local consumer proves my contention, and contrasts with the Government’s attitude to the vexed question of an increase in the war bonus.
Interlocked with the problem of finding ways and means to increase the dwindling national income is the urgent necessity of launching a 5-year plan designed to guarantee work for all, to increase the industrial potential of the Island, and to find new outlets for our ever-increasing resources of manpower. Our economic structure is quaint and exceptional because unlike the people of Britain and of other nations, we have no real say in matters affecting our survival and prosperity. While our comrades in Britain may plan and shape the future according to their own wishes and to the best advantage of their people, we are entirely dependant on the amount of manpower the Imperial employer chooses to employ. It is the duty of this Government to start working immediately on such a plan. The prosperity of these Islands is bound up with full employment, and the sooner we start thinking on these lines the better it will be both for the Imperial Government, whose main concern after all is to keep the people of Malta loyal and happy, and for the people of Malta themselves. That there is nothing, absolutely nothing, along these lines in the Speech is a shame to us all. The agitation for higher wages, so boldly and so nobly organised by the General Workers’ Union, whom we have the honour to count as our friends (Hon Members: Hear, hear), has our full and wholehearted support. The question of wages is not one of sectional interest, it is a question on national importance (Hon Members: Hear, hear).
We have heard a lot of talk in the past on the efforts of the Government to introduce new industries in Malta. Not only has the subject been dropped, but not even the other solution, emigration, however unpalatable, has been mentioned in the Speech. We have two representatives abroad. Of course, we do not know whether these representatives are looking after their own business or after the people’s business. All we know is that not even once has a report from these two gentlemen been published in the press. What we want to know is what kind of activities these gentlemen are undertaking in order to promote both the trade and emigration of which we are so much in need.
Much space was devoted in the Address to the problem of housing. I will start by reviewing the new developments. I think that the Government has taken quite a lot for granted. The people of Malta do not share that same admiration for the town planning report. It was undertaken with an eye on Imperial requirements. As an effort in bettering internal communications it has first-class advantages, but where the needs and requirements of the civil population are concerned it falls far below the average standard. I understand that an effort is being made in the Three Cities to organize a Three Cities Civic Committee. It is the intention of the organizers of this Committee to let the Government know exactly what the people of the Three Cities think about the report. From what I have heard, and this is also my personal opinion, the report has not tried to eradicate the slum areas in the Three Cities. It has merely given way to the Dockyard demands for expansion, without paying due consideration to the amenities of the people of those areas. It is not enough to leave a vacant space in the plans for a civic centre. Besides, the people in the Three Cities want to know who is going to pay for the expense of the new schemes. They realize that the new schemes are not being undertaken for their benefit but merely to accommodate the various authorities concerned. A pronouncement to this effect giving us some light on the situation will be appreciated by all Honourable Members on this side of the House. (Hon Members: Hear, hear). Meanwhile, the Government will perhaps explain why it was really necessary for the Admiralty to pinch the only small narrow outlet Cospicua has to the sea. (Hon Members: Hear, hear). It will perhaps also state whether in Verdala Barracks there is not ample room to accommodate the Naval Signal Corps now occupying the Government Elementary School at Cospicua.
We come next to the new building sites proposed by the Government. Is it not early, I ask, to start building new sites, when it is not yet even known what the population of Malta is going to be in the next five years? Is the Government sure that when all the demolished houses have been rebuilt these homes will be really needed by the local population? Or is Frederick Minter behind all this, after all? This gentleman came to Malta under the guise of a philanthropist. Later events have shown him up for what he really was: an ordinary contractor looking for new markets. The Government has, however – and I will give it credit in this case – taken one step in the right direction by sending an engineer to France for the purpose of studying modern methods of stone cutting. The adoption of machinery in the building industry will increase the potential possibilities of our local industry by at least one thousand per cent. It is true that the local building industry has lagged behind in the required efforts to cope with the new demand, but the blame rests entirely with the directives the Government has not given. Let us pass these directives under review and mention the various organizations forming the complicated machinery domineering or dominating the building industry. They are: the Building Control Board, the Controller of Building Materials, the War Damage Commission, the Public Works Department, the Medical and Health Department, the Aesthetics Board and the Housing Department. For the information of my Honourable friend Mr. Sammut I do not think anybody can prove the existence of an Engineering Department to which he made reference in his speech. Between these various organizations there is absolutely no coordination at all.
HON DR COLOMBO: Shame!
HON MR MINTOFF: Every single head is acting on his own in his tiny narrow domain.
HON DR COLOMBO: Shame!
THE PRESIDENT: The Hon Member has spoken for the length of time laid down by the Regulations.
HON DR COLOMBO: I move that the Hon Member be further heard.
HON DR SCHEMBRI ADAMI: I second the motion.
Motion agreed to.
HON MR MINTOFF: Plans at the Medical and Health Department are approved or disapproved by a Medical Officer who knows as much about planning as I do about foot and mouth disease. (Hon Members: Hear, hear).
The Controller of Building Materials controls materials only on paper and the help of the Controller himself is conspicuous by its absence and by the nominal control he has over his employees. Permits are issued – I say this for the information of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governer – after a delay averaging from a week to one year. In the case of paint, it takes one week; in the case of steel joists, it takes an average of one month before an applicant receives his permit; in the case of glass, it has been known to take years. I wish His Honour to compare my figures with his and then we can sort out later which are the correct ones. The materials this department asks the Food and Commerce Control Office to import, are not always of the right sizes or of the right type for the local industry. For instance, at this junction, during this time there is a shortage of timber, of the most ordinary timber, of the common timber which we mostly use in the construction of doors and other woodwork. It is the 1½" and 1¼". It is non-existent at the moment although the storehouses are full of the 2" material. I do not know who has advised the Food and Commerce Control Officer to import this material. I take it, it was the Controller of the Building Materials and I accuse that Controller or whoever is responsible of inefficiency. At other times, paint was available but there was no raw linseed oil. There was even a time when timber was abundant whilst nails and screws could only be obtained on the black market at 6s/- a ratal and 4s/- a dozen. I suggest the Aesthetics Board should change its name into that of Search for Symmetry Board. The Public Works Department comes into rebuilding the blitzed areas very seldom; it did come once after the blitzes with its emergency (so-called) repairs. The War Damage Commission is notorious for its silence and for the starvation wages it doles out to its employees and its part-time, very part-time engineers. It has energetically maintained the principle of getting something for nothing. It has started the campaign for ceiling prices and maximum wages in the building industry. It has maintained a very strange silence on the 2½% due to owners of demolished houses after the war. After what war, I ask? The contributions to the War Damage Fund have been discontinued in Great Britain. Apparently, we in Malta are deemed much wealthier than the people of Great Britain and no pronouncement has as yet been made on this point. With the Housing Commissioners I have no quarrel except that it should not be within their power to stop the issue of rations to unfortunate families who are occupying houses in areas likely to be affected by reconstruction schemes. There are some cases in the Three Cities and I wish the Government would rectify the position in order that the Housing Commissioners will not bear the brunt of the various grievances brought before them. The Building Control Board is the one most guilty of impeding the tempo of reconstruction. It was originally set up with the intention of facilitating the building of dwelling houses, either on new sites or on old sites. Can anyone explain all this confusion without moving away from the narrow path of truth? I accuse the Demolition and Clearance Department of pulling down non-damaged houses and portions thereof, even when I had protested with the workers on the spot, even when permits had already been issued for the repair of these houses, even when the owner had written directly to the head of the Demolition and Clearance Department. The Government has imposed from above the importation of German prisoners-of-war although no building materials were then available to cope with the demands of the available manpower. The result has been the abolition of overtime from the Imperial Dockyards and the abolition of female labour. From the interpretation given us so graciously by the Hon Mr. Sammut we ...
THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: I think the Hon Member will probably wish me to correct what appears to be a misunderstanding. Perhaps he is not aware that no German prisoners-of-war is employed in His Majesty’s Dockyard.
HON MR MINTOFF: I am quite aware that no German prisoners-of-war are employed in the Dockyard, because the German prisoners-of-war are doing other work, the total amount of work available on the Island has decreased, and that is the answer which the Hon the Lieutenant-Governer must give and not one which evades the whole question. We are of the opinion that the prisoners-of-war have been brought over here to lower wages. They have not in the least contributed towards speeding up the tempo of reconstruction. The Government before importing these uninvited guests has not even bothered to register all the building workers and see whether or not they are in full and continuous employment. My experience as an engineer has taught me that these men waste 33% of their available working time waiting for permits and for directives to go to new jobs.
Lastly comes the Building Costs Board. Some time ago the Chamber of Architects and the Master masons Union, at the instance of the Government, sent the representatives to a Committee with a view to discussing the ways and means of improving conditions in the building industry. That Committee prepared a report, or rather two reports, a majority report and a minority report. For reasons which the Government knows best that report has not been published. In that report it was made clear that it was immoral, absolutely immoral to fix maximum wages. We reiterate today the principle contained in the minority report. Wages can only be fixed through negotiation. The Master masons Union has asked for its representative to sit on the Building Costs Board but the Government has refused to allow that representative to sit on that Board.
The prices, the so-called prices, have been imposed from above and if the workers have not accepted those prices, the Government is directly to blame because it has refused to negotiate with the workers and fix the rates on a real and sound basis. The position today is that the owners of demolished houses are paying as much as 15%. During one of the sittings of the Committee I mentioned before, I pointed this out to the Hon Mr Bell. I said that unless the prices were honestly and realistically fixed the brunt of the difference would be borne by the local land-owner or property-owner.
The Hon Mr Sammut has called the building workers – I presume he was referring to masons – black-marketeers. I think that the Hon Gentleman after examining all the facts will convince himself that the real black-marketeer in this connection is the War Damage Commission. The War Damage Commission is trying to pay compensation below the current prices. If the War Damage Commission is honest in its purpose to rehabilitate the blitzed areas, then it should fix fair prices through negotiations with the workers. Of course, the building workers want, if necessary, to fix ceiling prices, but they want them fixed through negotiations – they do not want them to be imposed from above (Hon Members: Hear, hear). I know that there is a tendency among Government officials to lower the building prices. The reason is obvious. Not a long time ago some gentlemen, a few gentlemen – and I understand that the Hon Mr. Sammut was one of them but if I am wrong I beg his pardon – had suggested to the Imperial Government that £10,000,000 were quite sufficient in order to rehabilitate the Island.
HON MR SAMMUT: That is incorrect.
HON MR MINTOFF: At any rate, some Government officials made that suggestion. I hope today I will get an explanation on this point and perhaps somebody will tell us who were those officials who thought that £10,000,000 were quite sufficient to make good for the war damages in these Islands. Again, I state that according to my information – and I am only saying this in order to force the Government to give us correct information – the three officials concerned were Mr. Agius, the Hon Mr. Sammut and another gentleman who, I am afraid, did not really agree with the others in their estimate. At any rate, the fact remains that there is a conspiracy to lower the scale of building prices in order that these gentlemen may be as near the mark of £10,000,000 as possible.
THE PRESIDENT: It is now 6.25 p.m. and the debate, according to the rules, stands adjourned unless the Council orders otherwise.
HON DR BOFFA: I move that the Hon Mr. Mintoff be further heard.
HON DR COLOMBO: I second.
Motion agreed to.
HON MR MINTOFF: I have very little more to say. There is really no time to waste on finesse of procedure; this is not the time for politeness. I think that we, on this side of the House, would prefer to be blunt and to put the cards on the table face upwards. We will not thank anybody for these policies embodied in the Address from the Throne (Hon Members: Hear, hear).
Estratt mis-Seduta Parlamentari Nru 502 tal-Ħdax-il Parlament tat-Tnejn l-1 ta' Ottubru 2012
MR SPEAKER (Onor. Michael Frendo): Bħalma tafu lkoll fl-20 ta’ Awwissu 2012, tħabbret il-mewt tal-Perit Dom Mintoff, li serva ta’ Prim Ministru ta’ pajjiżna bejn l-1955 u l-1958, u bejn l-1970 u l-1984, u serva għal żmien twil ħafna bħala deputat f’din il-Kamra, kif jidher anke mill-ktejjeb li ppreparajna. Probabbilment, l-iktar deputat li serva fit-tul f’din il-Kamra fl-istorja ta’ dan il-Parlament.
Nitlob lill-Prim Ministru biex jekk jogħġbu jagħmel l-intervent tiegħu ta’ kondoljanzi.
ONOR. LAWRENCE GONZI (Prim Ministru) : Sur President, illejla, f’din l-ewwel seduta li qiegħda tinżamm wara l-waqfa għax-xhur tas-sajf, dan il-Parlament ma ltaqax bħalma nagħmlu s-soltu biex jiddiskuti xi liġi jew xi riżoluzzjoni. Ilejla m’aħniex qegħdin niddibattu bejnietna u nargumentaw dwar min għandu l-aħjar politika għal pajjiżna. Illejla, kif għadna kif għamilna ftit tal-ħin ilu għall-papà ta’ Louis, qegħdin nagħmlu att ta’ dinjità u rispett uman billi nsellmu lill-persuna li ġiet nieqsa ftit tal-ġimgħat ilu. Apparti li, kif għadna kif għamilna ftit ħin ilu, sellimna lill-papà ta’ Louis, illejla ltqajna wkoll biex nagħtu l-aħħar tislima f’din il-Kamra lill-Perit Duminku Mintoff, li l-mewt tiegħu tħabbret fil-lejl tal-20 t’Awwissu li għadda. Mhux l-ewwel darba li aħna d-deputati ngħaqadna flimkien biex nagħtu din it-tislima lil xi ħadd li ġie nieqes. Hija drawwa sabiħa ta’ din l-ogħla istituzzjoni ta’ pajjiżna li nagħmlu dan l-att ta’ rispett lejn persuna li ġiet nieqsa u lejn il-familja tagħha. Hija drawwa li ġġegħelna nieqfu għal ftit ħin u nirriflettu dwar x’fissret dik il-persuna għalina lkoll, min fil-viċin, u min fil-bogħod, min direttament u min indirettament.
Duminku Mintoff huwa wieħed minn dawk il-personaġġi uniċi u partikolari li kellu impatt fuq il-ħajja ta’ pajjiżna u tal-poplu tagħna għal medda ta’ ’l fuq minn 60 sena sħaħ li matulhom seħħew avvenimenti kbar ġewwa pajjiżna, avvenimenti storiċi, avvenimenti li fasslu t-triq kostituzzjonali li pajjiżna kellu jimxi fiha sakemm wasal fejn wasal illum. Dawn l-avvenimenti kellhom impatt fuq it-traġitt ekonomiku kif ukoll fuq it-tessut soċjali ta’ pajjiżna. Tajjeb jew ħażin, taqbel jew ma taqbilx miegħu, il-personaġġ ta’ Mintoff ħalla impatt innegabbli u indelibbli fuqna lkoll, fuq ġenerazzjonijiet sħaħ ta’ Maltin u Għawdxin. Huwa proprju għalhekk li llejla jien qiegħed nitkellem hawnhekk mhux biss fil-vesti tiegħi ta’ Prim Ministru, imma wkoll fil-vesti tiegħi ta’ Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista u fil-vesti tiegħi wkoll ta’ ċittadin, ta’ individwu, ta’ persuna, li matulhom sirt naf lill-Perit Mintoff, f’mumenti anke mill-viċin.
Illejla ma ġejtx hawnhekk biex ngħaddi ġudizzju politiku! Mhux il-waqt u mhijiex l-okkażjoni xierqa biex nagħmel dan. Imma rrid inkun onest ma’ din il-Kamra, mal-familjari tiegħu, u mal-ispirtu ta’ Duminku Mintoff innifsu. Jien qatt ma nista’ ngħid li kont naqbel mal-politika tal-Perit Mintoff, la fis-sustanza, la fil-metodu u lanqas fl-istil tiegħu. Imma proprju għalhekk nittama li din it-tislima tiegħi u f’isem sħabi tittieħed fis-sens ġenwin tagħha, tislima li tirrispetta lil persuna, il-bniedem li mexa l-mixja ta’ ħajtu mhux billi baqa’ sieket jew baqa’ gallarija, imma bniedem li niżel fin-nofs, li ħa t-tmun f’idejh, li ddeċieda, mexa u mexxa fid-direzzjoni li deherlu huwa f’dawk iċ-ċirkostanzi u f’dawk il-mumenti li feġġew matul il-ħajja movimentata u f’fażijiet minnhom kontroversjali, u kontroversjali ħafna, ġewwa pajjiżna.
Għedtilkom li llejla din it-tislima nħoss li għandi nagħtiha fi tliet vesti li jien għandi, l-ewwel nett fil-vesti tiegħi ta’ Prim Ministru. Ftit ħin wara li ġejt informat bil-mewt tal-Perit Mintoff, iddeċidejt mill-ewwel li nikkomunika mal-familjari tal-Perit Mintoff u mal-Kap tal-Oppożizzjoni. Ċempiltilhom u informajthom li jien kont lest, bħala Prim Ministru, li nagħti funeral statali, bl-arranġamenti kollha li jsiru f’okkażjonijiet bħal dawn. Imma informajthom ukoll li safejn kien se jkun possibbli, jien kont se nagħti struzzjonijiet ċari biex insegwu x-xewqat tal-familjari u fl-istess ħin, b’rispett sħiħ għall-fatt li kienet okkażjoni ta’ luttu wkoll għall-Partit Laburista nnifsu. Hekk sar, u l-Kamra żgur tirreġistra l-fatt li l-Istat żamm kelmtu u wera rispett sħiħ lejn id-dinjità tal-persuna tal-Perit Mintoff, Prim Ministru ta’ Malta għal 16-il sena sħaħ.
Infakkar lil din il-Kamra li l-Perit Mintoff serva f’din l-ogħla istituzzjoni ta’ pajjiżna sa mill-1945 meta kien ġie elett l-ewwel darba fil-Kunsill tal-Gvern, sal-1998, total ta’ 50 sena jekk wieħed ineħħi l-perijodu ta’ bejn l-1958 u l-1962 meta l-Kostituzzjoni kienet irtirata. Matul dan in-nofs seklu ta’ ħidma parlamentari Mintoff serva bħala l-11, l-14, il-15 u s-16-il Prim Ministru ta’ Malta, l-iktar persuna li serviet f’din il-kariga fit-tul. Kif għedt fl-istqarrija li ħriġt immedjatament kif tħabbret il-mewt tiegħu, Mintoff huwa personalità li ħalla marka kbira fuq pajjiżna. Għedt ukoll li l-ħidma kbira tiegħu mmarkat profondament l-istorja riċenti ta’ pajjiżna fuq il-livelli politiċi, ekonomiċi u soċjali.
L-impenn u d-determinazzjoni tiegħu wasslu għal żviluppi u bidliet profondi li jimmarkaw lil Malta u lil Għawdex. Intenni dawn il-kliem illejla hawnhekk f’din l-okkażjoni u fil-preżenza tad-deputati taż-żewġ naħat tal-Kamra. Dan iġibni għal dak li issa nixtieq ngħid, din id-darba però bħala Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista. Hawnhekk irrid noqgħod aktar attent kif nitkellem, imma anke hawnhekk irrid inkun onest magħkom ilkoll. Din il-Kamra żgur taprezza li ma nkunx qiegħed nesaġera meta ngħid li għall-Partit Nazzjonalista Mintoff kien l-avversarju politiku par excellence sa mill-mument li tfaċċa fuq ix-xena politika Maltija, anzi jista’ jkun hawn min jgħidli li qed inkun diplomatiku żżejjed. Kien avversarju politiku fis-sustanza, fl-ideoloġija kemm dik ta’ politika lokali kif ukoll dik ta’ politika internazzjonali.
Għal kważi nofs seklu l-Perit Mintoff kien il-kontradizzjoni ta’ kważi dak kollu li jemmen fih il-Partit Nazzjonalista fl-oqsma kostituzzjonali, fl-oqsma politiċi, ekonomiċi u sa ċertu punt anke fl-oqsma soċjali, imma kien hemm mumenti ta’ konverġenza u anke ta’ qbil, kemm fi żmien il-Prim Ministru Borg Olivier kif ukoll fi żmien il-Prim Ministru Fenech Adami. Imma ħaġa tal-iskantament il-punti ta’ qbil u konverġenza kienu spettakolari daqskemm kienu l-punti ta’ kontroversja, spettakolari anke għaliex meta kien hemm dawn il-punti ta’ konverġenza l-eżitu kien drammatiku u strateġiku għal pajjiżna. Nasal biex ngħid li dawk kienu l-mumenti verament storiċi li għad iridu joħorġu fil-beraħ iżjed milli għamlu sal-lum. Sinċerament nittama li għad ikun hawn min jirriċerka iżjed it-tifsira ta’ dawk il-punti ta’ konverġenza bejn il-forzi politiċi l-kbar f’pajjiżna fil-fażijiet differenti li pajjiżna u l-poplu tagħna kien għaddej minnhom.
Proprju għalhekk kien xieraq li fi tmiem tal-ħajja ta’ din il-persuna li jisimha Duminku Mintoff id-destin kellu jpoġġi lill-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-pożizzjoni li jkun hu fil-gvern li jsellem lil dan l-avversarju politiku u li jagħtih it-tislima bid-dinjità u r-rispett li kien jistħoqqlu bħala persuna. Fil-ħin tal-mewt ta’ persuna lkoll kemm aħna rridu nogħlew ’il fuq mill-partiġjaniżmu dejjaq u medjokri u minflok nilħqu quċċata oħra li hi waħda mdawla mill-valuri umani li aħna żgur ilkoll ngħożżu. Ngħid dan anke jekk kultant ikun hawn min fostna jinsa dan sforz l-għamad politiku li ma jwassal imkien ħlief għall-firda u d-dissens inutli. Naħseb li naqblu meta ngħid li flimkien irnexxielna mmorru lil hinn mid-differenzi fl-opinjonijiet u l-mod kif naħdmu ma’ xulxin.
F’dan il-mument ta’ sogħba għall-familja Mintoff kif ukoll għall-Partit Laburista irnexxielna nwarrbu d-differenzi ta’ bejnietna, anke jekk għal ftit ħin, biex minflok nirriflettu fuq dak li huwa sabiħ, pożittiv fuq l-istorja ta’ pajjiżna u fejn konna kapaċi naslu b’ħidmietna u bit-talenti tagħna, anke meta kellna kollox kontrina. Jien ċert li dak li għamel il-Gvern bagħat messaġġ ċar u qawwi lill-poplu tagħna biex jagħraf jagħmel id-differenza bejn il-bniedem u l-opinjoni u l-għemil tiegħu. Il-bniedem dejjem ħaqqu rispett, ikunu xi jkunu u jkunu kemm ikunu kontroversjali l-ħidmiet tiegħu, anke meta fl-opinjoni ta’ uħud dawn ikun ħaqqhom tifħir, waqt li fl-opinjoni ta’ oħrajn ikun ta’ min jikkundannahom.
Issa rrid nagħlaq billi ngħid kelmtejn fil-vesti tiegħi ta’ ċittadin Malti li f’mumenti partikolari tal-ħajja tiegħi ressqitni viċin dan il-persunaġġ politiku u kixfitli aspetti tiegħu li qabel ma kontx nafhom. Infakkar lill-Kamra li jiena sirt Speaker ta’ dan il-Parlament fl-1988 meta Duminku Mintoff kien għadu jservi bħala deputat ta’ dan il-Parlament, naturalment fis-siġġijiet tal-Oppożizzjoni. Niftakar qisu lbieraħ l-inkwiet li kelli dwar kif se niffaċċja lil Mintoff fl-ewwel seduta tal-Parlament li kont qiegħed nippresjedi. Inzerta però li f’dak iż-żmien kien għadu kemm għamel operazzjoni u għalhekk f’dik l-ewwel seduta ffrankajtha għaliex kien għadu qiegħed jirkupra d-dar tiegħu f’Ħal Tarxien. Malli sirt naf iddeċidejt li nieħu l-inizjattiva jien u ċempiltlu u għedtlu li jien kont l-iSpeaker il-ġdid kunjomi Gonzi u staqsejtu jekk kellux pjaċir li mmur narah id-dar. Weġibni mill-ewwel li kien jieħu gost ħafna u hekk fil-fatt għamilt. M’iniex se ngħidilkom id-dettalji ta’ konverżazzjoni ħelwa, umana u tipikament Mintoffjana li kelli miegħu. Nitlobkom tapprezzaw li għalkemm għaddew kważi 24 sena minn dik l-okkażjoni, għadni niftakar kelma b’kelma dak li ddiskutejna flimkien.
Minn dakinhar u fil-kariga ta’ Speaker sifirt diversi drabi mal-Perit Mintoff. Matul dawn is-safriet hu rrakkontali episodji differenti ta’ ħajtu. Niftakarni nħeġġu biex jikteb il-memorji tiegħu, imma kull darba jaħtafni ħatfa żul minn hawn għaliex għalih dak kien insult. Irrid nammetti li għamilli l-istess ħaġa meta mort narah l-isptar fl-aħħar żmenijiet ta’ ħajtu, imma dak kien Mintoff, karattru li ma jintesiex. F’ismi u f’isem sħabi nagħti l-kondoljanzi sinċieri tiegħi u tal-Gvern lill-familja tiegħu kif ukoll lill-Partit Laburista. Grazzi. (Onor. Membri: Hear, hear)
MR SPEAKER: Grazzi. Il-Kap tal-Oppożizzjoni.
ONOR. JOSEPH MUSCAT (Kap tal-Oppożizzjoni): Nibda billi nirringrazzja lill-Prim Ministru tal-kondoljanzi li ta lill-Partit Laburista u nikkonferma, kif qal hu, il-mod dinjituż ħafna ta’ kif mexa l-Gvern matul dan il-mument diffiċli għall-Partit Laburista, żgur għall-familja. Mhux se noqogħdu nitkellmu hawnhekk għall-familja għax diġà esprimew dan kollu, kif ukoll għal ħafna mill-poplu Malti u Għawdxi. Naħseb li l-poplu Malti u Għawdxi, dawk kollha ta’ rieda tajba, kemm dawk li qablu dejjem mal-Perit Mintoff kif ukoll dawk li qatt ma qablu miegħu, żgur li konna lkoll magħqudin f’rikonoxximent, f’tislima lil dan il-persunaġġ li ddomina din il-Kamra, jien ngħid għal kull sekonda li dam fiha, kien x’kien ir-rwol tiegħu, kienet x’kienet il-kariga tiegħu. Anke l-ewwel diskors li għadek kif qassamtilna inti, Mr Speaker, li hija drawwa tant sabiħa li nbdiet matul din il-Leġislatura, forsi kien jixhed tajjeb biżżejjed fl-1945 dak li kellhom jgħaddu minnu l-membri ta’ din il-Kamra li kienu se jiffaċċjawh matul iż-żmien. Tliet interruzzjonijiet, żewġ estensjonijiet tal-ħin u ftit umoriżmu mhux ħażin! Il-verità hija kif għedna, dak kien il-Perit Mintoff!
Xtaqt illum, għax nemmen li ntqal, inkiteb ħafna, u min jaf kemm għad fadal x’jintqal u x’jinkiteb, li nagħti t-tislima lill-Perit Mintoff fir-rwol tiegħu bħala membru ta’ din il-Kamra, fir-rwol tiegħu ta’ leġislatur. Fiż-żmien li fih ippresjeda l-Perit Mintoff fi gvernijiet differenti ddaħħlu fis-seħħ ’il fuq minn 500 leġislazzjoni, jiġifieri qed ninkludu l-ewwel term tiegħu ta’ Prim Ministru tal-1955. It-tliet snin li dam fil-gvern, mill-1955 sal-1958, wieħed jista’ jqishom bħala wħud mill-aktar lattiv u li sawru u taw fundament qawwi lin-nazzjon tagħna. Huwa żmien li forsi l-istudjużi qatt ma studjaw biżżejjed, qatt ma tawh importanza biżżejjed.
Sur President, dak iż-żmien ukoll saru u nbeda qafas ta’ liġijiet dwar strutturi oħra li ma tantx nitkellmu dwarhom, bħall-koperattivi li minn dak iż-żmien sal-lum imxew ħafna ’l quddiem. Twaqqfet ukoll il-Qorti tal-Minorenni. Dawn huma wħud mill-ħafna leġislazzjonijiet li bla dubju ta’ xejn għandna nfakkru l-Perit Mintoff għalihom illum. Ovvjament kien hemm liġijiet oħra li qajmu ferm aktar kontroversja u li kienu forsi the flip side taż-żmien li matulu l-Perit Mintoff mexxa lil dan il-pajjiż. Jien nemmen li llum għandna nħarsu lejn dan kollu fil-bilanċ, kif qal il-President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami. L-istorja se tiġġudika lill-Perit Mintoff b’mod pożittiv. Għaldaqstant, minn din in-naħa tal-Kamra nagħtu l-kondoljanzi tagħna lill-familja Mintoff kollha kif ukoll lil pajjiżna. Aħna nħossuna illi f’dawn il-jiem tlifna missier li kien essenzjali mhux biss biex jitwieled il-Partit Laburista kif inhu llum iżda wkoll biex pajjiżna wasal fejn hu. Nirringrazzjak.
MR SPEAKER: Grazzi. Is-Sedja tingħaqad mas-sentimenti murija mill-Prim Ministru u mill-Kap tal-Oppożizzjoni. Inżid li l-istorja tal-Perit Dom Mintoff u dik ta’ Malta huma żgur minsuġin flimkien f’firxa twila ta’ żmien. Il-Perit Mintoff serva għal aktar minn 50 sena f’din il-Kamra, u li sservi nofs seklu din il-Kamra naħseb huwa fatt li jitkellem waħdu. L-istorja trid fil-milja taż-żmien tagħti l-ġudizzju tagħha għal dan il-persunaġġ politiku kumpless. Jien kelli okkażjoni li nitkellem dwar Dom Mintoff ma’ Lord Carrington, persunaġġ li fil-fatt kien ukoll avversarju tiegħu fin-negozjati twal mal-Ingilterra. F’laqgħa li kelli miegħu meta kont Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin kien talabni nselli għal Dom Mintoff – li kienet tislija li wassalt – u qalli dan il-kliem:
“In politics only one thing is unpardonable, and that is to be boring, and Dom Mintoff certainly was not boring.”.
Naħseb li lkoll nistgħu naqblu ma’ dan. Jien nitlob lill-Iskrivan tal-Kamra biex, jekk jogħġbu, iwassal il-kondoljanzi espressi f’din il-Kamra lill-familjari kollha tal-Perit Mintoff li nieħu gost nara li qegħdin fostna. Insellmilhom u nirringrazzjahom talli attendew għal din is-seduta li hija kommemorattiva għal missierhom. Grazzi.
|Xoljiment tal-Parlament: 15.02.1966|
|Kap tal-Oppożizzjoni - 31.03.1966|
|Xoljiment tal-Parlament: 24.04.1971|
|Prim Ministru u Mnistru tal-Affarijiet tal-Commonwealth u Barranin - 21.06.1971|
|Xoljiment tal-Parlament: 13.08.1976|
|Prim Ministru u Ministru tal-Affarijiet tal-Commonwealth u Barranin u Ministru tal-Intern - 24.09.1976|
|Xoljiment tal-Parlament: 09.11.1981|
|Xoljiment tal-Parlament: 13.02.1987|