My watch list  

Ċensu Tabone

Vincent Tabone

4th President of the Republic of Malta
In office
4 April 1989 – 4 April 1994
Preceded by Paul Xuereb (Ad Interim); Agatha Barbara
Succeeded by Ugo Mifsud Bonnici

Born 30 March 1913 (1913-03-30) (age 99)
Victoria, Gozo
Political party Nationalist Party
Spouse Maria Wirth

Vincent "Ċensu" Tabone [IPA: tʃɛnsu:],(born March 30, 1913 in Victoria, Gozo), is a Maltese political figure. He was the fourth President of the Republic of Malta.

Additional recommended knowledge


Early years

Dr. Tabone is the son of Niccolò Tabone and Elisa, née Calleja. He was the youngest of ten children. His paternal grandmother, Giuseppina De Gaetani, had settled in Valletta, Malta in the mid-19th century from Riposto, Sicily. His father Niccolò was one of the first Maltese doctors to read pathology and surgery in the United Kingdom, and served as a District Medical Officer in various parts of Gozo. Life on Gozo for the Tabone family was relatively quiet, and pastoral. They lived in Victoria and summered at a villeġġatura in Marsalforn. Tabone's childhood was deeply affected by the sudden death of his father in October 1922, at the age of 59. Two years later, at the age of 11, he was shipped off to Malta, where he became a boarder at St. Aloysius College, a Jesuit school. He entered the University of Malta in 1930, where he graduated as a pharmacist in 1933 and as a Doctor of Medicine in 1937.

Military service and medical career

During World War II Tabone served as a Regimental Medical Officer and general duty officer with the Royal Malta Artillery, and later as trainee ophthalmic specialist stationed at the Military Hospital, Mtarfa. In the early days of the War, he narrowly escaped with his life when a bomb demolished a substantial part of the army barracks in which he was posted. In 1946, he obtained a diploma in Ophthalmology from the University of Oxford, followed by a diploma in Ophthalmic Medicine and Surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He was a clinical assistant at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.[1]

In 1948, Tabone was entrusted with the supervision of a campaign to treat trachoma using sulfonamide tablets and drops.[1] Through his efforts, the disease was virtually eliminated from the Island of Gozo. He helped launch similar campaigns in Taiwan, Indonesia and Iraq under the auspices of the World Health Organization, and subsequently served as a member and consultant of the WHO's International Panel of Trachoma Experts.

He served on the Council of the University of Malta, and between 1957 and 1960 he was a faculty member of the Board of Medicine, and a lecturer in Clinical Ophthalmology in the Department of Surgery. He helped found the Medical Association of Malta in 1954 and is at present its Honorary President.[2]

For many years, even as he served as a Member of Parliament, Tabone maintained his medical practice in Sliema.

Political career

Dr. Tabone was nominated to the Nationalist Party Executive Committee in 1961, served as the party's Secretary General from 1962 to 1972, and as Deputy Leader from June 24, 1972 to January 9, 1977. He was first elected to Parliament in 1966, and subsequently served as a Member of Parliament for the Sliema, St. Julian's, Msida, and Gzira areas for 23 years. During his long political career, he also served as the Minister of Labour, Employment and Welfare between 1966 and 1971, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1987 and 1989. As Minister of Labour, Employment and Welfare, Tabone was responsible for the emigration portfolio, at a time when emigration from Malta to the Dominions of the British Empire and to the United States was at an all time high.

In 1968, Tabone brought a motion before the United Nations calling for an action plan in regard to the World's ageing population. In 1988, he brought a further motion before the U.N., calling for the World's climate to be declared the common heritage of mankind.


  • Dr. Tabone's great-grandfather is reputed to have been the Mayor of Riposto, Sicily, prior to the upheaval cause by the Risorgimento.
  • It is said that Dr. Tabone's grandparents, the De Gaetani, never quite mastered the local language, and accordingly they spoke a form of Siculo-Maltese patois.[3]
  • Dr. Tabone's childhood home on Strada Corso (now Republic Street), Victoria, now houses the La Stella Band Club.
  • In 1887, Dr. Tabone's father, Niccolò, had sought a position as a Colonial Assistant Surgeon on the island of St. Lucia or another West Indian colony, but the colonial government of the day turned down his application, on the grounds that it would be too difficult to find a replacement for him on Gozo.[4]
  • He treated the first wounded soldiers after the first air raid of WW 2 when he was stationed at Fort St. Elmo
  • Upon appointment to the Cabinet for the first time in 1966, in the Nationalist Party Government of Dr. George Borg Olivier, Dr. Tabone took his oath of office under the first name "Ċensu", thus institutionalizing the use of the name under which he was known from childhood, although in Gozo, the island of his birth, he is known as "Ċensinu". Nonetheless, he has always been listed as "Vincent Tabone" in Malta phone directories.
  • Hollywood legend Joseph Calleia was Tabone's first cousin.


  1. ^ a b Ophthalmology in Malta, C. Savona-Ventura, University of Malta, 2003
  2. ^ Medical Association of Malta
  3. ^ Henry Frendo, Ċensu Tabone: A Man and His Century, (2001) Malta: Maltese Studies, 2nd ed., p. 19.
  4. ^ Frendo, supra at p. 20.
Preceded by
Paul Xuereb
President of Malta
Succeeded by
Ugo Mifsud Bonnici
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ċensu_Tabone". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE