The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Former Minister George Hyzler passes away: ‘George was one of a kind’ – Anton Tabone

Malta Independent Friday, 21 January 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

“George was one of a kind and it was impossible not to like him,” Acting President Anton Tabone said of former Nationalist Minister for Social Security George Hyzler, who passed away yesterday, aged 85.

“I think I can safely say that we were more than just colleagues; we were friends,” Dr Tabone said, adding that they got to know each other back in 1966, when he first got involved in politics.

Dr Hyzler, who was born in Zejtun in 1926, graduated as MD at the Royal University of Malta. In 1954 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served in Aldershot, UK.

In 1954 he married Elvira Bonnici and they went on to have three sons, George Mario, who was elected to fill his father’s seat in parliament in 1995, Karl and Mario.

Between 1954 and 1956 he was a houseman at St Luke’s Hospital and St Vincent de Paule Hospital. He started his 33-year political career in 1962, and was successful in all subsequent elections, until 1992.

Between 1974 and 1987 he was PN spokesman for health, and in 1987 he was appointed Health Parliamentary Secretary, a portfolio he retained in the Cabinet reshuffle in 1990.

In February 1992 he was appointed Minister for Social Security, responsible for family affairs and housing, a post he retained until April 1995, when he resigned from Parliament.

In June 1995 he was appointed Director of the International Institute on Ageing by the UN and the Government of Malta, a post he occupied until 1998.

In 1965 Dr Hyzler was elected to represent the Maltese Parliament in the General Assembly of the Council of Europe, and he also served as a member of the UM Council and sat on various national boards and committees.

He was instrumental in the setting up of the Red Cross Malta, in 1993, and was chairman of the initiator group for the national committee of UNICEF, Malta.

Dr Hyzler was also Ambassador of Malta to Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 1998 he was appointed officer of the National Order of Merit (UOM).

He was Acting President of Malta, in the absence of the President, between 1999 and 2009, when he informed the Prime Minister that he was unable to continue serving as Acting President. “Like me, George spent a while as Acting President, another thing we have in common”, Dr Tabone said.

“Both in government and in the opposition, George and I worked together for many years. I remember opening the Critical Care Unit at the Gozo General Hospital together,” he said.

“After each parliamentary session we would meet in his office; our offices were next door to each other. We would have a chat about the session and any issues at the time,” he said. “He would insist on it, and on the few occasions I was held up for a while, he would send someone for me.”

“Put quite simply George was a very active and dynamic person, who simply couldn’t sit still; he had this strong desire to change things for the better,” Dr Tabone reminisced.

“It was George who inspired me to become a doctor,” Labour MP George Vella said, explaining that Dr Hyzler would often spend time at their house, as the two families from Zejtun were friends.

“I still have the book he gave me marking the occasion of my Holy Communion, with his dedication at the front,” he said, adding that he also remembered accompanying his grandmother to his house, on the occasion of his graduation.

“George was a friendly character, with a good sense of humour, and can only be described as a gentleman and a very good doctor,” he said, agreeing with Dr Tabone that it was impossible not to like him.

“He made a name for himself, and as a doctor he was extremely well-loved and respected in Qormi, where he moved after he got married. At the time there were no policlinics, and doctors would be on call at all times,” he said.

“He was a most dedicated parliamentary secretary and minister. George used to take a deep interest not only in health, but in each and every patient. I remember him visiting hospital and meeting the patients,” President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami said.

“George contributed a lot to politics, at a time when politics was not easy, and for that we should all be grateful,” Dr Fenech Adami said, describing him as friendly, unpretentious and very easy to speak to.

Labour MP Leo Brincat described Dr Hyzler as a perfect gentleman, who was very affable in whatever role he took. He always remained close to the people, as a doctor and as Acting President, and would go out of his way to speak to everyone, he said.

Despite ailing health, Dr Hyzler remained mentally alert and affable, right until the end, he said.

The Nationalist Party and the Labour Party expressed its condolences to his family at this difficult time. Dr Hyzler was always committed to his work, both in his profession and in the political sphere, as an MP, Minister and Acting President.

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