VISNEWS filmed Feb 3 Valetta, Malta's capital, on the "Day of Mourning" called by Labour leader and ex-Prime Minister Dom Mintoff in protest against the British Government's action to revoke the present Constitution of the Island (population: 310,000) and hand back power to Governor Sir Robert Laycock.
GTV Reserve transport, standing by to relieve pressure on public transport, if necessary.
TSV PAN over reserve transport.
TV Public buses at terminus, Kingsgate, Valetta.
TSV Police patrolling.
SV Closed bar.
CU Sign on bar reading "LUTIO-NAZIONALI" (national mourning).
LV Another closed bar.
LV Closed shop.
CU Pan Closed cinema with sign.
SV Sign on wall.
LV Malta's flag at half-mast.
SV Another flag at half-mast.
GV Showing empty street with parked cars.
GV School children playing truant.
TV Public walking in Bakery Street.
TSV Strikers walking in street.
Air Shot...Police in naval helicopter flying overhead.
SV Riot police trucks standing by.
Crowds shopping in Malta's main street "Kingsway".
Initials JRG/PB AW/PB
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Background: VISNEWS filmed Feb 3 Valetta, Malta's capital, on the "Day of Mourning" called by Labour leader and ex-Prime Minister Dom Mintoff in protest against the British Government's action to revoke the present Constitution of the Island (population: 310,000) and hand back power to Governor Sir Robert Laycock.
Visnews cameramen reported that through some intimidation by young toughs and promises of punishment when the Labour Party returns to power, the majority of the working classes abstained from work. But they did not stay at home by order of the Laborite Action Committee. Instead they wandered about the streets, watched police ready for action. The business community went to work in the morning, then closed their offices in the afternoon.
Most shops however were closed throughout the day. Buses came out early for civil servants and government employees who had been warned they were liable to lose their jobs if they stayed away.
Maltese flags on private buildings were flown at halfmast. Balconies and doors of houses bore signs with the words "National Mourning".
Apart from Maltese police readiness, British Commandos were also on the alert, and naval helicopters kept a watchful eye above key points for possible disturbances - especially outside the naval dockyard. Orderly groups of city people gathered in main streets to discuss the debate in the British House of Commons which upheld the Government's decision the night before.
The day after the "Mourning", British Lieutenant Governor Trafford Smith said more than half of the Government and services' employees, industrial and non-industrial, had reported for duty. Disciplinary action against absences was under consideration.
He denied the reports that the "Day of Mourning" had paralysed the island but said the public had played for safety though they had not stayed at home under Mintoff's directive to do so.
Governor Sir Robert in a speech to 50 priests said: "You have read and heard lately of all sorts of threats to innocent people---is this really the Maltese idea of Democracy? I do not think so." Later five Mintoff supporters were charged with intimidation.
Malta - the George Cross island of World War Two - with its dockyard and harbours, is the bastion of NATO's Mediterranean Navy.