Except perhaps as a government agent on national TV news, Norma Saliba hasn’t been particularly successful in her last job. No one remembers a single piece of journalistic work that she can be even in part credited for. TVM News under her stewardship lost several impartiality complaints and won close to no awards for the quality of its work.
She will be remembered only for her servility to the government and her willingness to censor anyone, even the Pope, whenever their actions or remarks could have been seen as amounting to criticism of the government’s conduct.
Norma Saliba’s TVM was the closest the national broadcaster got to the iron curtain 1980s.
Eventually, she lost her job. First, she was downgraded from the station’s editor to the headship of its news department. Then she was forced out, kicking and screaming, complaining on how she was treated.
It’s not that Norma Saliba knows where the bodies are buried. It’s that she did the burying for the government, and they simply can’t have her out in the wild feeling they let her down.
The way she was given a new job that didn’t exist until now is so representative of the poverty of the governance of this country.
Let’s just sum up the facts as we know them:
Firstly, Norma Saliba will be heading a new agency to promote the Maltese language.
Secondly, there already are agencies that promote the Maltese language, such as the Council for the Maltese Language. Even if the functions of the new agency are new – and it is not clear what they possibly could be – there will be the need for the existing agencies and the new agency to work together. Except that the person who runs the existing agency which mostly obviously seems to be the original to the new Norma Saliba-run duplicate, though saying he’s happy the new agency has been created, says they’ve never been consulted about the creation of the new agency.
Thirdly, Norma Saliba also says she wasn’t expecting to get the job of running this new agency. She hadn’t heard of it before she learnt she was running it. She didn’t apply for the job because there was no application process. She didn’t compete with any other candidates either because except perhaps inside what passes for Owen Bonnici’s mind there were none. The job, apparently, landed on her lap as the agency she’s running has landed on ours.
The above are the facts. What follows is my leap: an entirely new government organisation that will be doing things that an existing government organisation could have done if it was given the money to do it, has been created so that its running could be gifted to an unemployed loyalist of the government.
Kim Il Sung would have been proud.
This must be the worst possible way of running a country, let alone of protecting an indigenous language unless what they really want to do is codify the exquisite ability of the vernacular to hammer insults out of government-induced anger. In the immortal words of the poetic cartoonist Steve Bonello who has done more to protect the Maltese language than anyone paid to do so, “u morru ħuduh f’sormkom kollha kemm intom”.