Here, I appeal to Judge Michael Mallia directly. Please resign from the sham so-called “press experts committee” because its existence and its work compromises my position as an independent journalist and writer. Here I explain why.
In this Jon Mallia podcast with The Shift editor Caroline Muscat explains how this committee has been presented with an ad-hoc legislative item that is intended to apply foreign libel cases into Maltese law – this is exactly the opposite of what I proposed years ago and the legislative item that I proposed can be downloaded in the latter link. The committee is expected to discuss this bill which is wrong and incorrect and will use this discussion to declare that it has discussed and consulted with the media and publishing industry.
I will make it absolutely clear that so far there has been no consultation or discussion by the government with the media and the publishing industry over any proposed reforms on the results of the public inquiry on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia nor of any proposed reforms to the media industry whatsoever. While the government is using this sham of a committee as an excuse to literally do nothing about the results of the public inquiry on Daphne’s murder, the government is pushing a law in parliament which will re-introduce criminal libel with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a €30,000 fine. This is insane. I don’t think that the government could even be more authoritarian and dishonest in the way it intends to run roughshod over the media and the publishing industry and you, your honourable judge should not be put in a very uncomfortable position where you are used to justifying all this. I’m telling you clearly judge Michael Mallia, that you do not deserve to be part of this charade.
I will be clear and honest on the position of the other members. The Times and the Independent are wrong to allow this to happen and they should also resign, but I will not expect that the other committee members will do the same because they are most probably there to rubberstamp anything the government asks them to. First of all, Saviour Balzan has absolutely no business being in such a committee for the reason that Saviour has a huge conflict of interest. Look, I respect Saviour to a great extent because he funds an independent media house which is very important to the national media and publishing industry, however, you should know that Saviour also funds his businesses by acting as the government’s bitch in lucrative PR contracts which he does in his own name and separately from his newspaper MaltaToday. Saviour’s business model is very controversial and I have no problems with it since it is true that MaltaToday is independent, but Saviour himself is not independent and will not take an independent position when the government asks him to kiss its ass. The first thing that will come to Saviour’s mind when the government will ask something of him, are the salaries of his well-loved and independent critical journalists. Basically, Saviour has absolutely no business being on that committee.
Secondly, there is Carmen Sammut who also has no business being in the committee given she is purely a government stooge. Carmen is an academic who owes her career to government nepotism. She has been a media consultant for the Labour Party for some time and amongst her various publications of nauseating intellectual gymnastics that justify the rhetoric of Labour Party propaganda, she once published a paper about Daphne Caruana Galizia full of misinformation. The latter link has all the details.
As for the other committee member, I can say that I have been involved in the media, printing and publishing industry ever since I was 16 years old and I know basically everyone in the business (I am 34 now) and I have never heard his name. I would assume he is another government stooge.
To conclude, I would like to say that clearly, this committee is not intended to do anything about the results of the public inquiry on Daphne Caruana Galizia. Had I been a committee member I would have suggested the same set of bills that the Nationalist Party has presented in government but were rejected outright by the government. The official position of the government is being made clear with the legislative items it is proposing: by applying foreign libel cases unto local law, and re-introducing criminal libel the government shows a very consistent position against free speech – the committee should not be used to justify this new policy in any way and therefore it should be dissolved.