REPUBBLIKA’S REACTION TO THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNANCE APPOINTED BY GOVERNMENT
Repubblika believes that it would have been far better had the Government appointed a “Committee on Good Governance” rather than simply a “Committee on Governance”.
In the past few years, Malta had governance. This governance was weak towards criminals, abusive towards free press and civil society, partisan and corroded by corruption. Malta had a type of governance that was riven by conflicts of interest where persons appointed as “persons of trust” used the power they had been given for their own personal gain. This was governance, but it was bad governance.
We also note that Government has only appointed men to this committee, as though no woman is capable of contributing ideas toward good governance.
We feel that it is a serious deficiency that the Government is not stating that this committee will not be consulting with the rest of Maltese society, including civil society, experts and academics, the Opposition and others.
The composition of this committee bodes no good.
Mario Cutajar, head of the civil service, recently defended measures of bad governance whereby the permanent civil service, that according to the Constitution should be based on merit, is currently crushed under the weight of an army of 700 casual employees who have been recruited simply because they are trusted Labourites. The Council of Europe has explicitly condemned this systematic abuse of Public Service employment (which is not supposed to be partisan), yet Mario Cutajar did all he could to ensure that the advice given by the Council of Europe would remain unheeded.
For over a year, Owen Bonnici dragged his feet on institutional reforms requested by the Council of Europe when these reforms fell under his responsibility. In one of the worst episodes of bad governance in our history, Owen Bonnici gave instructions to the Attorney General (who, according to the Constitution, reports to nobody in criminal matters) telling him that he is the personal lawyer of persons involved in criminal investigations. And this, while he was serving as Minister for Justice.
Moreover, for two whole years, Owen Bonnici censored a legitimate protest in Great Siege Square. It seems the censorship is going to stop now that he is no longer responsible for public cleansing.
Owen Bonnici defended the abusive taunts of certain Government officers, including Jason Micallef who, while reporting to him, abused of the power conferred to them by the state to threaten and intimidate civil society. In this way, Owen Bonnici made these people’s threats and intimidations his own. Owen Bonnici consistently abused public discourse by giving an incorrect interpretation of concepts such as “rule of law”, “freedom of expression”, which he used to justify systematic abuse by the state.
When Edward Zammit Lewis was Minister for Tourism he gave a sponsorship of €1 million to Vistajet to publicise Malta on its planes, despite the fact that this company does not carry tourists, but serves as a taxi for millionaires. The real reason behind this unjustified spending was never provided. Nor was the reason why this sum of €1 million was paid to Vistajet one week after one of its planes flew, with no passenger on board, to Azerbaijan and later to Dubai, hours after Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was seen escaping from his bank, Pilatus, carrying suitcases that may have contained proof of criminal acts that led to the bank being closed down by the European Central Bank. This too, was an atrocious episode of bad governance.
All these people kept their mouths shut when a Government Minister and the Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s secretariat were caught out owning companies in Panama and gave them a vote of confidence when asked, even following the arrest of Yorgen Fenech and information provided regarding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In view of this, we recommend that these people should first be trained in good governance.