Last week, it was revealed by the Times of Malta that the President of the Maltese Language Council lied to the general public and to his colleagues about the government’s plans to launch a new entity headed by a Labour Party acolyte. He hid the news from his colleagues and lied publicly about not having been informed about the government’s decision in advance.
Olvin Vella is clearly a fraud and a liar, so why wouldn’t he take responsibility for his actions and resign from the Language Council altogether? And why isn’t he being asked to resign by his colleagues after lying so blatantly and so fraudulently to them and to the general public? How is his position tenable at all? How is it possible that instead of having people with integrity occupying these important cultural positions, we have instead frauds like Olvin Vella who find no problem in lying to the public and to their colleagues?
The simple answer is that his fellow academics in the Language Council tolerate his fraudulent and idiotic behaviour because they engage in the same kind of behavior frequently at the University of Malta. This is a very normal state of affairs at the University of Malta where ingratiation, petty politics, and a toxic environment are key features of the local academic landscape. It is also the reason why the University of Malta, especially the Faculty of Arts, barely produces any research at all and the productivity rate is extremely low.
Here’s something you didn’t know. In 2013 a group of Labour Party intellectuals frustrated with the rampant fraud and corruption at the University of Malta were lobbying Joseph Muscat to start a new university in Malta. A new university would have created competition and would have helped raise the academic standards in the country. Joseph Muscat abused this idea to make another little pet-corruption-project of his own. The University of Malta remained without a competitor. Then there was an attempt to nominate a reformist as rector of the University of Malta until Joseph Muscart opted for Alfred Vella, a Labour conservative acolyte whom he could trust.
The University of Malta is run by the government with a Council appointed by the government that in turn appoints the rector. Alfred Vella, the rector of the university is a Labour Party loyalist, while his deputy, Carmen Sammut is someone who rained praise on Joseph Muscat as she published “academic” papers against Daphne Caruana Galizia. Carmen Sammut was also involved in the government’s fraud of the media and press reform along with Saviour Balzan – the law will introduce harsh penalties against journalists for breaching the privacy of any individual, including politicians.
Olvin Vella is part of the Faculty of Arts whose head is also a staunch Labour Party supporter. Getting employed and promoted at the Faculty of Arts requires friendship and approval from Dominic Fenech himself. Most of these academics are engaged in games of petty politics and loyalties in their struggle for promotions and professorships instead of collaborating with each other to produce meaningful research. Dominic Fenech’s last published research work was published around twenty years ago and his latest publication is a recycled version of what he had already published previously. Dominic Fenech is also Head of the History Department. Bizarrely, he is paid for two administrative posts despite the fact that nothing ever comes out of his work. The Department of History is a total joke with no academic standards and its only outspoken academic is another fraud who works for organised criminals by promoting their propaganda and misinformation. It gets even better.
Most of these academics’ attitude to research work is often motivated by petty political reasons. When the Labopur government wanted to introduce the “gender-electoral mechanism”, Carmen Sammut wrote an essay on the history of women which she partly plagiarised from my past history books without referencing them. Carmen Sammut went on a propaganda campaign on the local media and the state broadcaster with her essay to talk about the history of women and how the Labour Party has always legislated in favour of women whilst speaking in support of the gender-electoral mechanism. Carmen Sammut is not a historian but has a degree in “journalism and media”. The gender-electoral mechanism had nothing to do with empowering women: it empowered Party acolytes and added more seats in parliament to the major parties resulting in more unfair competition to small parties. Despite introducing the “gender-electoral mechanism”, the Labour government actually introduced reforms on abortion which were regressive.
Yet, Carmen Sammut will never take responsibility for her actions and she will never admit she was wrong on the “electoral-gender mechanism”. These pseudo-intellectuals are never wrong because they don’t know the meaning of responsibility and consequences in life. They have always been guaranteed a salary out of the pretense that the University is autonomous and intellectuals need to be free, but the University is not autonomous, they are not intellectuals and they are not free. So people like Olvin Vella can act fraudulently and without any integrity and yet, still be promoted with professorships in the years to come – because there are no consequences for their actions. And Carmen Sammut will never admit she was wrong on anything because her job as a vice-rector is to support the Party in government and its policies even if that means supporting authoritarianism. There is no academic integrity.
In some cases, the nepotism and the corruption at the University are so extended that they reach extreme and absurd levels such as how the Briguglio’s have the whole extended family employed at the University. They even have impunity for their corruption and abuse. One Labour Party academic who was accused of multiple cases of sexual harassment was protected by his colleagues with fake investigative committees. There is no end to the corruption and the dirt you can uncover at the University of Malta. Academically, it is a horrible place driven by toxicity, nepotism and corruption.
This is not just an armchair rant. I did actually contribute to help alleviate the dreaded academic and intellectual wasteland in my country. As Executive Chairman of the National Book Council I had previously created the Malta Book Fund to fund books and research which were not commercially viable. I can proudly say that as of today, thanks to the Malta Book Fund, more books have been published with local research than the Faculty of Arts has published in the last 20 years. In fact, the Book Fund fund was eventually tapped by many well-meaning academics who have little support and funding from the University of Malta. With only €100,000 a year, we gave life to a new breed of local research that exceeded in volume and quality what was being produced by the Faculty of Arts. Imagine how much better our University would be if it is run by the right people or imagine if instead of a Book Fund, we had an actual and new well-functioning university. Imagine the number of books and research published every year. We can do so much better, but our University and our academic landscape are held back by frauds and corrupt bigots like Carmen, Dominic and Olvin who have no integrity, no respect and are busy wheeling and dealing instead of producing tangible and meaningful work.