A Tribute to President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici
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Today, President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici reaches the milestone age of 86 years.

This article pays tribute to politician, a philosopher, a thinker and a source of wealth of knowledge by highlighting what for many, Dr Mifsud Bonnici stands for on history, human rights, migration, Christianity, law, Rule of Law, freedom and CSR in his own inspiring words.

About his father’s love for the country 

“Missieri kien patrijott u jħobb lil pajjiżna b’ħeġġa kbira. Malta, il-Maltin u kull ma hu Malti kienu għalih għeżież, iżda dan ma kienx ifisser xi mibgħeda jew stmerrija lejn il-barranin. Kien japprezza l-kultura Taljana, kif ukoll dik li ġejja mill-Gran Brittannja, iżda wkoll il-kultura ta’ pajjiżi oħra; fil-fatt kien jgħożż il-Kultura fiha nfisha.”

Il-Gross Missieri

 

About history 

“Mhux ix-xjenzi naturali biss jimxu ‘l quddiem fl-esperimenti. Ix-xjenzi umani jinbnew fuq l-esperimenti – insejħulhom l-esperjenzi tal-ħajja tal-bnedmin.  L-antropoloġija, is-soċjoloġija, il-liġi, kollha jistrieħu fuq dak li ġara.  L-istorja hija proprju l-ġabra tal-ġrajja.

L-istorja hija għalhekk għalliema.  Minnha nindunaw kif inhu l-bniedem.  Tgħallimna bl-iżbalji li saru: l-esperimenti li ma rnexxewx. Tgħallimna anki bis-suċċessi: dak li kien ta’ ġid.  Tgħallimna b’dak li spiċċa malajr u b’dak li dam fit-tul.  L-istorja tal-imgħoddi turina t-triq ta’ li ġej.

L-istorja għalliema u ħalliema.  Issawwar l-għerf u toħloq l-illużjoni.  Anki l-istorja vera toħloq fantasiji, meta l-interpretazzjoni tkun falza.  Iktar u iktar tiżvijja flok tgħallem meta tkun mgħawġa u falsifikata fis-sustanza.

Għalhekk biex tgħallem verament din il-magistra jeħtieġ tkun awtentika.”

Diskors tal-President Emeritu Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici waqt it-Taħdita Annwali tal-Arkivji Nazzjonali bit-tema  Memorji Nazzjonali Oġġettivament Korretti – L-Arkivji Nazzjonali”

 

About Christianity 

“In the two thousand years of its existence, Christianity has suffered from, flourished in, or been tolerated or let alone, unnoticed, by a great diversity of political or economic systems of government. In turn, Christianity may have preached principles and extolled values, in general abstaining from trying, in its institutional form of Ecclesiato change forms of State government or economic structures. The Church, with its great experience of human history, continued to pursue its mission, whether it had to deal with emperors, chieftains, kings, communes, tyrants, and Calvinist or other republics.”

Speech delivered by President Emeritus Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici at the course entitled “Neo-liberalism and the Christian Faith: Our Christian duty to build a better world for all” on the topic “Our duty to construct a better world for all: an authentic Christian life in an active community

 

About Education 

Konna nirrealizzaw li kellna bżonn għallespansjoni ekonomika ta’ iktar inġiniera (il-Fakultà tal-Inġinerija kellha numerus clausus ristrett ħafna), iktar managers, iktar accountants, iktar avukati, iktar għalliema. Konna nafu li kellna nerġgħu nibdew inrawmu lil min jirriċerka l-istorja u x-xjenza, u jistudja l-letteratura. Ma stajniex nistennew. U għalhekk, allavolja konna nafu li għal numru ta’ snin ser ikollna r-rassa, iddeċidejna li niftħu l-bibien. Ġejt ikkritikat fl-ewwel snin li kelli università tas-sardin. Sofrejt din il-kritika inġusta bi tbissima. L-Università li writna kienet ħiemda bħal ċimiterju. F’Ottubru 1987 reġgħet imtliet bil-ħajja u bl-allegrija taż-żgħożija. Sadanittant però bdejna naħsbu biex inkabbru l-Università anki fil-bini tagħha. U f’waħda mill-ewwel laqgħat tal-Kabinett, meta ddiskutejna kif ser inqassmu l-għajnuna taħt il-protokoll mal-Unjoni (dak iż-żmien Komunità) Ewropea, ipproponejt bħala proġett it-tkabbir tallibrerija tal-Università u l-proposta tiegħi ġiet aċċettata. Inbnew ukoll faċilitajiet ġodda, speċjalment għall-Inġinerija.

Mill-awtobijografija “Konvinzjoni u Esperjenza” – Seba’ Snin Ministru

 

About Law and Rule of Law 

Indeed profanenon lawyers might not appreciate fully what an enchantress the Law turns out to be. Law is of the essence of civilization. Humankind without law is savage; Law is justice with peace and liberty.  These are essentials of sociality of living together in a polis. Aristotle might have expressed it well enough: law making is part of the art of government, indeed it is the best part.  Government without Law is tyranny. The supremacy of Law, the rule of Law, is the key of good government. However we sometimes run the risk of proclaiming by fanfare the Rule of Law without ensuring that the Law be widely known. We operate the legal system under the supposition that the law is known by all, when it is definitely only known by the few.

Speech delivered by President Emeritus Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici at the launch of the book by Prof. David Attard entitled “The Maltese Legal System, Volume II, Constitutional and Human Rights Law, Part A”

 

About Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

We speak of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Philosophers and moralists use the same words as jurists, but for jurists the concept of “right” entails not only the possibility of voluntary fulfillment, but also the possibility of enforcement in the case of non-fulfillment.  Obligations can be “natural’’, “moral” or “ethical”, besides legal. At law “right” postulates the possibility of its being vindicated. Law is imperative not merely exhortative. The same can be said of freedom; it was Immanuel Kant, a great philosopher, who first distinguished between ‘transcendental’ freedom which is the internal freedom of the will which is the basis of moral responsibility, and ‘practical’ freedom which is the state of fact in which a person is not subject to physical or moral constriction.  Philosophers and moralists consider freedom in a much wider intellectual plane than pragmatic lawyers. Breaches of human rights and freedoms elicit moral indignation and ethical, sometimes even political, condemnation. Freedoms at law must find a space of actual exercise.

Yet, when we speak of International Human Rights Law we have to register considerable frustration in that this branch of Law is still very far from having a machinery of enforcement and remedy on the universal level. Human Rights and Freedoms are declared as Universal, but their enforcement and remedy is far from being universal; in truth in many places and circumstances, this essential element of enforceability is nonexistent.

Speech delivered by President Emeritus Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici at the Conference entitled “Migration, Mobility and Human Rights in the Mediterranean and Beyond”

 

About Human Rights and Migration 

The ‘nationalization’ of Human Rights and Freedoms through Constitutionalization, though necessary and useful, affords inadequate cover for inherently universal human rights and freedoms. The phenomenon of widespread migration, in which people driven from their homeland by civil war and the breakdown of the State or by natural calamities, by hunger and poverty, become beggars for their right of asylum and for the basic right to subsistence, makes it imperative that human rights implementation be reinforced by the institution of an International Human Rights Court.

Speech delivered by President Emeritus Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici at the Conference entitled “Migration, Mobility and Human Rights in the Mediterranean and Beyond”

 

About Corporate Social Responsibility 

It was said that the aim of business was that of increasing wealth and making money.  Individualism taught that profit-making for oneself was an end in itself.  The arrogance of this concept fashioned into a system which has numbed the social conscience.  The negation of our social responsibilities has brought havoc, divisions and miseries in the world.  We are gathered here to preserve a civilization.  Sharing wellbeing: making material progress available to all.  Caring for the plight of others: feeling responsible for others is the rock basis of civilised life.  We have to keep it alive. In this task, we are also engaging the media.  The message needs to be relayed and spread.

CSR: business, journalism and society

 

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