The Malta Independent 26 September 2021, Sunday

Monument dedicated to Prof. Guido de Marco unveiled in Valletta

Malta Independent Friday, 12 September 2014, 19:09 Last update: about 8 years ago

A monument dedicated to former President Guido de Marco, sculpted in a way for passers-by to believe he is reaching out to shake their hand, was unveiled outside the Law Courts in Valletta in the presence of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia, Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil, former presidents and prime ministers, MPs and the de Marco family.

The monument shows Prof. de Marco with his right hand ready for the handshake and his autobiography ‘Politics of Pursuasion’ in his left hand. The monument was cast in bronze by artists Aaron Camilleri Cauchi and his father, Alfred.

A recording of Prof. de Marco reading out a piece of his biography was aired during the unveiling ceremony.

Prof. de Marco's daughter Gianella was the first to speak before the unveiling.

She read out a piece her father had read on 4 April 1999: “Malta’s independence, a dream come true. Tomorrow is ours as well, but that of youths most of all.

“We hope today’s dreams will become the future of our youths.”

Prof de Marco's other daughter Fiorella Camilleri read out an excerpt of her father’s last speech in parliament  on 29 March 1999: ‘The best thing the people ever gave me is when they nominated me to represent them in parliament.

“We are in politics to serve the people not ourselves,” she continued.

“When one looks back and looks at all past governments, and forgets about the political pique, one can note that each and every government did what it could for the best of the people.

“The fact Malta has gone forward is a result of Malta’s political class and I get extremely hurt when I hear someone criticising our political class.

“Nobody has a right to say politics is something dirty but it is on the contrary, something of great honour.

“The most honourable of things is to say you are an MP.”

Retired Judge Vanni Bonello said that those who deserve to have monuments will have monuments but honour is more important. He pointed out that he never came across a monument dedicated to a person who served as a judge.

“This is no way means you should set up a monument in my memory,” he joked.

He described Prof. de Marco as being a bridge maker throughout his life.

He said that Guse Flores, a criminologist, and Prof. De Marco had played a big role in Malta to update its criminal law to reflect the day’s necessities.

“Guido was both heavily praised and criticised since he was obsessed with persuasion,” he said.

“It was through his perseverance that a consensus had been reached so that a repeat of the 1981 perverse election result did not take place again,” he said.

“If Guido wasn’t here, our lives would have been poorer,” he said.

Nationalist MP Mario de Marco, Guido de Marco’s son, recalled that when his father came to choose the title of his autobiography, it was one of his hardest decisions. He said that initially his father wanted to choose ‘Living a Maltese dream’ as its title since he felt that the population had been generous with him.

Dr de Marco said that his father’s mother was a Sicilian immigrant who kept pressuring her son to further his studies.

He said Eddie Fenech Adami was of great influence to his father’s political life and entrusted him in top roles. Turning to his mother Violet, Dr de Marco said that she strongly supported his dad and was a pillar in his life.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that it is of great pleasure for me to be here today to honour the memory of Prof. de Marco. The fact that we are all here together goes to show that this country is maturing.

He said that Prof. de Marco acknowledged where change was needed, including continuity if need be.

“He worked with everyone, even with those he did not see eye to eye with,” Dr Muscat said.

“For Prof. de Marco, it is the people who were the pillars of democracy,” he said.

Dr Muscat said that Prof. de Marco can be remembered for having signed Malta’s application with the EU when he was then foreign affairs minister.

He will be remembered as of the greatest statesmen Malta ever had.

De Marco bio

Guido de Marco, who was born on 22 July 1931 and 12 August 2010, had served as President of the Republic from 1999 to 2004. A noted statesman and lawmaker, Dr de Marco also served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, Justice, and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

His political career began with his election to the House of Representatives in 1966. He was returned to Parliament at every general election he contested up to 1998. He was appointed secretary general of the Nationalist Party in 1972 and became the party's deputy leader in 1977.

He was elected President of the 45th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1990 and chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation in 2004.

A renowned criminal lawyer, he defended some of the landmark cases in Malta during the 1980s. His death in 2010 shocked the nation and prompted three days of national mourning followed by a state funeral.

 

Lawyer Joe Mifsud: ‘De Marco was my mentor’

Lawyer Joe Mifsud told this newsroom that the late Guido de Marco was his mentor and “if it weren’t for him to pressure me to pursue a career as a lawyer, I am not one today”.

He said that Dr de Marco had entrusted him to convey messages of tolerance and peace to both the Israelis and Palestinians.

He was speaking in the context that he visited the Middle East 23 times and also met with then Israel Minister for Regional Development Shimon Peres, who later also served as President and Prime Minister, where he conveyed a message from Dr de Marco to him on the lines that then Palestinian President Yasser Arafat should not be harmed. This was at an immensely tense time when both the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority were at each other’s throats.

He said that he used to organise workshops for young Palestinian and Israeli leaders in Malta under the Peres Centre for Peace with the aim of helping instill more tolerance and enhance cooperation among the two sides, the workshops serving as a kind of mediation attempt.

Turning to the monument, Dr Mifsud also highlighted that many a time he remarked that a monument should be put up depicting the late Guido de Marco.

“It’s better late than never,” Dr Mifsud said.

Dr Mifsud said that despite coming from a different political camp to mine, he always respected my opinion.

PN MP Jason Azzopardi: ‘I got involved in politics thanks to Guido’

“Guido was my mentor, both in politics and in my legal profession,” Nationalist Party MP and lawyer Jason Azzopardi commented prior to the unveiling.

“The reason I got involved in politics was thanks to him. It was he who had introduced me to Eddie Fenech Adami over a coffee during the 1992 electoral campaign while in Paola as "our candidate for the next elections" when, even if I was already involved within the Party in my hometown, in MZPN, and was still a very young university student, including his, the thought of contesting elections had never ever crossed my mind”.

Dr Azzopardi recalled: “I remember then trying, very timidly, to tell him, in front of the then Prime Minister that maybe that wasn't the case, but he replied, while putting his arm over my shoulder, in his stentorian voice in front of the entourage: "tinkwetax, hekk hemm bzonn isir" (Don’t worry, that is what needs to be done).

Dr Azzopardi said that the late Dr De Marco was by far the University lecturer he liked best and instilled in him the love he has for criminal law.

“His sense of logic and razor sharp analytical skills were unparalleled. He had a unique sense of appreciation and tried his best not to disappoint once he gave a commitment.

“Thus, even if after confirming his willingness to be the witness at our wedding, something which was so dear to us, he was nominated to the Presidency and our wedding was going to conflict with his first formal engagement as head of State. “In his typical manner he calmed us down and assured us he would keep his word. “Thus, on our wedding day, as soon as our Nuptial mass was over, he changed attire in order to attend the Airmalta concert at Dar il-Mediterran and thereafter changed again in his wedding witness attire to join us at our wedding reception.”

He added: “He was so humane and so close to the people, while not tolerating injustices and having a non nonsense attitude, something which I humbly try to emulate.

“He was at ease talking with John citizen and equally so with foreign Heads of State. Guido was Guido,” Dr Azzopardi said.

 
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