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Editorial • February 8 2004

The Fenech Adami legacy

There will be many editorials to heap praise on Eddie Fenech Adami. They will be more than justified. The events of last Sunday could have desecrated the image of a man who can be criticised, but not hated. Hopefully he will be respected for his achievements.
Throughout these eventful years Edward Fenech Adami, the lawyer from Birkirkara, grew out of that little known politician to one who rallied to confront the immense tyranny of a demagogue by the name of Dom Mintoff.
Eddie, as he is affectionately known, took over from the ashes of a broken party led by the ailing Borg Olivier and repositioned his party to rival the excesses of the Mintoff years.
When he was finally elected Prime Minister, he launched into a reconciliatory mood that on many occasions failed to suppress the real culprits who had made the life of so many normal citizens a nightmare.
Yet, his other achievements outweigh this deficiency. The job creation, economic growth, university education for all, liberalisation, pluralism and a sense of peace that Fenech Adami helped to bring about are monuments to his era.
Unfortunately, the smaller things that matter to people, still failed to see the necessary reforms. The state of roads and public transport, the civil service, the culture at the courts, the protection of the environment, the quality of secondary state schools, electoral reform and many others.
However, the basic tenet of the stable, modern, affluent, democratic society can only be attributed to Eddie Fenech Adami and some of his ministers.
He was surrounded by many competent ministers, but equally by others who failed to deliver. And yet he moved far too timidly to remove them.
His obsession with his personal understanding of values blurred his vision to the much-needed social changes that were and are badly needed given the present social upheavals of a modern society.
And he was on too many occasions ill-advised by the men who were overtly interested in spinning rather than abetting policy.
This is the end of the Fenech Adami era, a doctrine born out of confrontational politics. His Opposition, the Labour party, failed miserably to come up with a worthy adversary and leader. Surely Dr Sant is unique, but he lacks the political ‘savoir faire’ to take on the legacy of Fenech Adami.
Dr Fenech Adami was born for politics. He could smell a battle and a weak spot and move in meekly, but dastardly to transform himself into the general who could rally affection, support and commitment.
Fenech Adami’s replacement will be a pale shadow of the current Prime Minister at least in the short term, and he will have a tough job bringing to the fore the realities of European integration.
The new man must not in any way be a clone of Fenech Adami. He must be a continuation of his forward looking policies, but must be someone who can propel rapid change in the shortest time possible. The changes that are needed for a country to adjust to European accession and be a winner in a club of 25.

Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta