An outspoken figure within the Labour Party, as well as the culture minister, have poured cold water on calls to re-evaluate and remove statues of colonial figures in prominent locations around Malta.
“I am against the few calls coming from different quarters with different agendas,” Jason Micallef, the Executive Chair of One and chairperson of the Valletta Cultural Agency, told Lovin Malta.
“Removing them doesn’t make sense nor is it appropriate,” he continued. “When I hear someone saying that we need to pull down the Main Guard facade in St George’s Square in Valletta or the iconic Victoria Gate also in Valletta, I stare in disbelief.”
His reaction comes after a former V18 artistic director, the Book Council Chairman, as well as members of the Maltese art scene, called for a re-evaluation of statues of colonisers in main areas of Valletta.
These calls come following similar re-evaluations of statues dedicated to divisive or discriminatory historical figures in the USA and the UK.
“Without getting into much detail, these monuments and/or buildings in our public spaces, most notably in Valletta, are part and parcel of our history. They are an important part of our collective memory of Malta of the last century or so decided and built by our forefathers at will,” Micallef said.
Just yesterday, Culture Minister Jose Herrera also made his opinions on the removal of statues clear, saying it was a “ridiculous idea”.
“It would be ridiculous to dismantle monuments pertaining to an imperialist period. History cannot be changed and must be taken within the context of that particular era,” Herrera said in parliament.
“I completely disagree with those calling for the dismantling of monuments erected when Malta was under foreign rule,” he said. “By the same yardstick, we should also remove the statue of Grandmaster Jean de Valette.”
Cover photo centre: RK3AUU, Wikipedia