Another battle for information is underway this time fought by Times of Malta to acquire a copy of a report Enemalta commissioned to understand why it had paid three times the price for a Montenegro windfarm than the vendor had paid just two weeks earlier. The transaction is nonsensical in and of itself, independently of the fact that Enemalta is state-owned, and its considerable losses are covered by public funding, and independently of the fact that the vendor who made the handsome profit in a two-week flip was Yorgen Fenech and his Azerbaijani partner.
Enemalta is refusing to publish the report even though it rightly belongs to the public because what the report is investigating is money spent, or misspent, that belonged to the public before Fenech and Musayev pocketed it. Enemalta even has the audacity to taunt Times of Malta’s lawyer, Therese Comodini Cachia, describing her reading of the law on freedom of information as ‘obtuse’.
What’s their reading then? It’s perpendicular, to stretch the angular metaphor. It’s a wall of secrecy against which we bash repeatedly and seemingly in vain. There are the dozens of appeals from FOI rejections The Shift News is going through. The Malta Independent is chasing details of the government’s spending on the film awards. Repubblika is fighting a battle over internal correspondence on the grafting of Silvio Valletta on the FIAU.
There used to be a line, too often repeated, when these scandals emerged in the press. They used to try to discredit the work of journalists with the rhetorical retort: ‘where’s the evidence?’ It was never a question that genuinely sought some sort of answer. They never really wanted to know because they knew where the evidence was. They were the ones to hide it. They’re still hiding it.
Why do it? Why fight on and continue to spend money we don’t have in legal appeal upon appeal to get them to let us know how they’re running our country? Because at some point some regulator, some judge, some court, some civil servant, maybe even some politician, might find the spine to do the right thing and let the people know how they have been swindled.