Let’s put Chicken Run Sant’s behaviour into perspective

Published: March 5, 2008 at 5:30pm

My sister Corinne Vella (the 42-year-old who Maltastar.com described as a ‘young student’ whom I had brought along to help me rabble-rouse at the university debate) posted this comment further along. It’s addressed to Victor Laiviera, a personal friend of Alfred Sant who has taken it upon himself to defend him all over the Internet. I don’t want you to miss it, so I’m posting it here.

Corinne is too self-effacing to spell it out herself, but her perspective on the matter is probably one of the most relevant that anyone living here in Malta can give. For the last few years she has worked in the press centre of every single major World Economic Forum Meeting in various parts of the globe, including the January meeting for world leaders in Davos. The press conferences which she helps organize, and for which she is present, are not the sterile and meaningless ‘press conferences’ organized by the Broadcasting Authority, featuring Alfred Sant and a selection of journalists bearing state-approved cards from the government’s Department of Information, but massive events crowded with the world’s top media – CNN, BBC, The New York Times, the London broadsheets, and hundreds of others – and the person being grilled under the spotlight of several television cameras is a world political or business leader. And because Alfred Sant and his friend Frans Sammut, who wrote a hagiography about him in which photocopies of his Harvard certificates were included as colour plates, value these such things far more than experience and ability, I should point out to them that she also holds a postgraduate degree in communications from the London School of Economics.

On this matter, as on others, her opinion is worth a whole lot more than Victor Laiviera’s, friend of Sant.

In my last two posts I mentioned my experience of attending several international press conferences. I did so because it underpins what I have to say on this matter, not to score points over Victor Laiviera, as he seems to think.

I stand by what I said. It is NOT acceptable under any circumstance for a speaker at a press conference to ask for a person to be evicted from the room. The only time this is acceptable is when that person poses a security risk. A threat to life and limb is a security risk. A challenge to accusations of corruption is not. There are no two ways about this. I did not mention this exception earlier as I took it to be self-evident. Given Mr Laiviera’s obstinacy, it appears I was wrong.

Victor Laiviera, as others do, keeps arguing about Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando when the spotlight is shining the other way. If Alfred Sant gets his way, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando will be out of the political scene and Alfred Sant will be Prime Minister. That is why Sant’s behaviour is the central issue in this dispute. To Sant’s fans, his behaviour is heroic. To others it is sinister. Perhaps even Sant’s fans know this: their only defence of Sant in this matter is to say that his political opponent was in the wrong.

It was Sant’s behaviour, and not Pullicino Orlando’s presence, that disrupted the press conference. Sant the would-be Prime Minister believes it is his prerogative to decide who can say what and when. That is a dangerous belief that Sant’s fans would have us all sanction.

It is, was, and should remain the moderator’s prerogative and responsibility—and not the speaker’s—to manage a press conference. Alfred Sant knows this, which is why he normally moderates his own press conferences, an arrangement that enables him to ignore questioners he does not like.

In the many international press conferences I have attended, there have been several occasions when members of the audience included people who are not journalists.

Many times the open hostility between speakers and people in the audience was known and visible beforehand.

On several occasions, speakers faced questions that caused them great discomfort and embarrassment during press conferences that were being broadcast live on global TV networks.

There have been numerous occasions when a journalist’s existence—not mere presence in the press conference room—was considered by a speaker to be a personal affront and abomination.

I could extend that list, but that will do for now.

NEVER in any of the situations I mention did any speaker refuse to take to the podium unless a member of the audience was first evicted, particularly not under police escort. And if any such request had been made, the press conference host, not just the moderator, would have refused to comply.

You see, when the world’s media are watching, a sensible speaker faces with good grace any challenging question, however hostile, rather than refusing to take any questions at all.

And here, in tiny Malta, with only the local media watching, would-be and has-been Prime Minister Sant could not face up to a political opponent and so he asked for him to be removed under police escort.

Evidently Sant thinks that it is normal and acceptable to silence opponents. Otherwise, camera savvy as he is, he would not have called for the person’s removal under police escort while the local TV cameras filmed his every gesture and word.

– Corinne Vella

These are not from my Little Red Book

The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men – Plato

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be – Thomas Jefferson

29 Comments Comment

  1. Small reflections.

    1. Glad you’ve discovered Plato’s quote. We used it in SDM’s membership campaign drive (1996)and we used a different translation: “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber”. I still believe in this maxim to this day and all my political activity strives to avoid such eventuality in the future.

    2. Some comments mainly to Cora/Corinne regarding this Sant/JPO press conference issue. Now, I believe JPO has every reason and right to want to get straight answers from Sant and I am not questioning that in any manner. The unfolding of the Sant v. JPO debacle is another example of the low levels of politics in this country.

    Sant had ample time to make the allegations in front of JPO. He had such time because JPO had sniffed out that it was in the air and rightly trailed him for 4 days to wait for him to spit it out. That Sant did not have the guts to do so in his face says much about both the substance and the person delivering. Granted.

    JPO had every right to seek redress. As every citizen would. However every citizen has his forum for doing so. Whoever in the nationalist election campaign team came up with the brilliant idea of issuing a press card to a dentist/part-time farmer/politician is not the smartest man/woman in the house. The messages it tells ordinary citizens are multiple:

    a) We are above the ordinary citizen. We can disguise someone as something that he isn’t because the ends justifies the means.

    b) We don’t care if it is a press conference. It is not enough that journalists ask the questions. If need be to hell with journalists, the journalistic profession and the agreed rules for the campaign,.. We want JPO there so there he will be.

    What Sant did is indefensible. So is what the PN campaign chose to do. I’m sorry but if Cora has been to Davos then she also knows a thing or two about press accreditation and vetting. It is NEVER taken lightly precisely for the security reasons cited by Cora. Another reason is that there could be someone who poses as a journalist to disrupt a session in process. If you read world papers you know what I am talking about… pies thrown in faces, environmental protesters – witness the recent fracas at the European Parliament when they approved the signing of the Lisbon Treaty. That is precisely what PN decided JPO could do… pose as a journalist to disrupt the conference. There’s no other way you can describe the intention. Disrupt the conference… because it was not the place to get that confrontation. Sant continues to avoid confrontation? Isn’t that enough as admitting he is wrong?

    Independently of whether you agree with Sant or JPO on the Mistra issue there remains the simple fact that a normal press conference became a farce exposing the mudslinging or cowardly antics of the two main parties.

    Now that is a perspective I am sure does not please many people. It is what I have striven to point out. It should not affect anyone’s vote for this election because the choice is no choice when one of the parties is a non-starter. What I resent is the shamefaced defence of a tactic that in normal politics is underhand, lacking respect (of the people and political processes that safeguard normality) and downright wrong.

    Thank you for the space.

  2. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    I am going to answer this one, Jacques. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, as a member of parliament – the elected representative of the people, in case you have forgotten – is not a security threat at a press conference.

    In your eagerness to carry on flogging your own particular dead horse, you have overlooked the essential point that Corinne made: that our entire attitude towards press conferences is wrong. Ours remains the Russian approach, the totalitarian approach. Vetting people as a security threat, as you pointed out, is one thing. Vetting them on the grounds that the speaker might object to their presence is another.

    I’m sorry, Jacques, but in your rush to sound ‘more clever than the rest’ you have simply ended up sounding craven.

  3. Corinne Vella says:

    “… she also knows a thing or two about press accreditation and vetting.”
    Yes, Jacques, I do know plenty of things about press accreditation and vetting and, at the risk of stating the obvious, yes I do read the world papers, though I can’t imagine why you would need to question whether I do.
    If you read back through my posts you will see that I am talking about a former and would-be Prime Minister’s decision to have someone silenced and I am critical of the manner in which he chose to do it. The validity or otherwise of press accreditation is entirely beside the point I made.
    Of course protocols and procedures can and should exist. Their purpose is to enable the free flow of information, not to protect speakers’ egos.

    I too feel resentment at “a shamefaced defence of a tactic that in normal politics is underhand, lacking respect and downright wrong.” I am referring to a has-been and would-be Prime Minister’s attempts to silence an opponent. It appears that you are not.

  4. You just can’t resist can you? No Daphne. Press conferences are just that. I did not say JPO is a security threat did I? I said press conferences are sessions where the interlocutor meets the press to answer questions posed by the press. PN knew that. That is why they had to get a non-journalist a Press Card. As I said, follow world events… press accreditation… it happens everywhere… I too hesitate to bring family into the equation but ask any NET journalist who has been to cover EU Summits if it is easy to join them in areas reserved for the press.

    Press conferences are for the press in 21st century media… and not in the Soviet Union.

    You know the worst thing about dead horses?

    They stink.

  5. Simon says:

    This press conference incident between Sant and JPO, reminds me of an interview that Christiane Amanpour with the late Yasser Arafat. During the interview, he insisted to be called as Mr. President (or Your Excellency – I can’t remember), and she insisted on calling him Mr. Arafat, since he had no official title at the time. She was not afraid, even though she was surrounded by his henchmen. At the end, he walked out of the interview. Another guy with a huge ego.

    During the BA incident, I couldn’t help but notice how submissive Anna Bonanno was to Alfred Sant (notice her hand gestures when she asked about the presence of JPO)!

  6. “The validity or otherwise of press accreditation is entirely beside the point I made.”

    No it’s not, Cora and thank you for pointing it out. Let’s avoid crossed lines… we both agree Sant avoids answering questions and that his doing so is irresponsible especially when the questions asked would shed light on a matter that threatens to ruin a politicians reputation. I’m on your side for this one.

    On the other hand it seems we will not agree that JPO should never have had a press card. Full stop. He should not have been in that conference room… .at most his point was proven (as you rightly point out) when Sant called for the police… point proven… the man is a coward and wants to wait for a year long case before the truth surfaces – it’s on film… so you walk out and show that unlike Sant you play according to the rules.

    Don’t play their game and defy the rules because from the “ditherers” (as your sister likes to call intelligent voters) perspective it is still obnoxious.

    Dead horses indeed.

    [Moderator – Jacques, it would interesting to debate the very legitimacy of the press card system. Conferences organised by privately-funded organisations use a system of security cards for an entirely different reason: to keep people paying the attendance fees.]

  7. amrio says:

    We’re running around in circles boys and girls!

    It’s quite simple really:

    1) Should a non-journalist acquire a press card to attend a press conference attended only by real-life journalists? Normally no.
    2) Was JPO right in doing all his best and take every opportunity to confront AS? Hell, YES!!

    I think that sometimes in politics, as in life, you have to go out of your way and do the outwardly ‘crazy’ to make yourself heard… and right what you feel is wrong.

    This charade is now not about who is right or wrong in this ‘scandal’. Level-headed people should be asking themselves – should I entrust my country to a guy who accuses but is afraid to face the accused, who is quick to shout ‘al fuoco, al fuoco’, but then won’t tell you where the fire is? And to cap it all, normally there will be no fire, only someone smoking a cigarette…

  8. K Zammit says:

    Can anyone shed some light about this breaking NEWS about Harry Vassallo? Surely, the timing has nothing to do with any political issues! At least I hope not otherwise we are back to the socialist dark ages!

    [Moderator – K Zammit, is this the news item you are referring to?]

  9. Charles Cauchi says:

    Dear JRZ

    Thank you for opening my eyes to the wicked machinations of Daphne the Invigilator and her cohorts of Intelligent Voting Police.

    I feel humbled when confronted with a superior mind such as yours and am avid to learn more.

    Please teach us how to think. Do you give private lessons?

    [Moderator – Charles, good turn of phrase, but please try not to pick fights.]

  10. K Zammit says:

    Yes on timesofmalta.com. Thanks for correcting my spelling mistake (u instead of o in socialist) moderator.

    [Moderator – don’t forget the fullstop ;) ]

  11. James De Giorgio says:

    Oh God i can’t stand anymore bad news. Why on elections’ eve? Mark my words, the only people who stand to gain for this are AD and indirectly, MLP.
    Plus I feel sorry for Harry Vassallo.


  12. Simon says:

    Saint Harry is at it again! This time apparently, the vicious PN Gestapo police went to arrest him and put him in the dungeons. Wow! Beyond belief! First the smashing of windows, then the Gestapo police, what’s next Harry?

    On a separate note: This campaign has produced a few interesting characters – Jo Said, Alfred Sant, Carmel Caccopardo, Saint Harry, etc. And this out of a population of only 400,000!

    [Moderator – this is not a joke, it’s a two-year prison term. Please bite your lips unless you have new information.]

  13. Corinne Vella says:

    In my last post, I suggested you scroll back through my previous messages about press conferences. I’m making that suggestion again. Scroll back and you will not find any defence or condemnation of a press card having been issued to Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando by the Malta DOI. Why? Because that is beside the point I made about Alfred Sant’s behaviour.

    Alfred Sant didn’t call for the police because Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando had a press card. He called for the police because he wanted Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando out of the room.

    You seem to be under the impression that only press card holders are able to attend press conferences. I’ll repeat what I said earlier. In all the press conferences I have attended, many people in the room were not journalists yet no one called for their removal on those grounds.

    As for what you say in your penultimate paragraph, I’m not sure whose rules and which game you’re talking about. I don’t know about you Jacques, but I don’t write what I do with the intention of impressing anyone, nor because I want to score high in some theoretical game.

    Intelligent voters may think what I’ve said is obnoxious but that doesn’t change the facts behind what I’ve said.

  14. clive demicoli says:

    Why should the PN give a platform to AD on the eve of an election? To be portrayed a martyr is only in Harry Vassallo’s interest.

    [Moderator – careful, that’s a very dangerous line of thought. In fact, it’s the same argument that was used against Daphne when a bomb threat was called in to her house.]

  15. K Zammit says:

    It becomes interesting as the paraventu is on Harry’s case as well. Either Harry or the police officer delivering the notice is lying. Hope to get to know the truth before Saturday. And by the way Super One already know the conclusion to the MEPA report on the so called MISTRA SCANDAL. How do they know if I may ask?
    Victor any suggestions?

  16. Simon says:

    Moderator, I am sarcastic because I can’t believe that the PN would be so blatantly stupid as to hand Harry Vassallo such a golden opportunity to play the victim’s card. I have a right to have my own reservations about the chain of events in this story. Besides the judiciary and the executive are two separate and independent powers, which do not have any control over each other.

    Also, if I understood the TOM article correctly, the court orders were dated October 2007. Why were these revealed today, 5 months after the fact! The facts are not really clear.

    [Moderator – there, that’s better!]

  17. ian says:

    Its a neck and neck – so sad that after so many achievements and advancements by PN we have been reduced to such a low and uncouth mud slinging election campaign – whoever has any sense can clearly see that due to the fantastic achievements made by this country Alfred Sant can only stoop to these levels – let us all just hope that common sense shall prevail on saturday 8th March – im not too sure – Malta, as in 1971 – seems to always want to turn the clock back every time things are looking bright and prosperity for all is in the offing!…..sad sad sad….how very sad! Thanks Daphne – FOR ALL YOUR COURAGE!

  18. Victor Laiviera says:

    So many words, so many arguments, so many red herrings – all to try an obscure one simple fact – that JPO is not and never has been a journalist, does not have any right to a press card and had no right to occupy a place amongst the bona-fide journalists.

    As I have asked before, I ask again – what is JPO waiting for to produce the “proofs” of his innocence? When is he going to rebut the documents published by the MLP? Time is flying and we are hours away from the poll.

    The plain fact is that JPO cannot rebut them because they are true. His only chance is an emotional appeal based on sympathy rather than reason – and for that he need a ‘bogey’ and that is why he is insisting on a face to face confrontation.

    Sant is right to refuse to play that game.

    [Moderator – Victor ‘Not-so-merry go-round’ Laiviera, here you go again. Re-read Corinne’s post. The point is that it is not normal for a leader of the Opposition to behave in that way when faced with a similar situation.]

  19. Christina Borg says:

    I agree with Mr Laiviera here… For all we know, everyone is blaming Dr Sant for not confronting JPO, and we’re all forgetting how Mr Lawrence Gonzi manages to dodge the press and media when questions are asked about his ministers and the cabinet in general.

    I’m sorry if I’m just stating facts here, but isn’t it true that once the case is at court one cannot speak about it in public? And after seeing the contracts signed by the very same JPO, who’s the one lying here?

  20. Vanni says:

    @ Victor Laiviera

    Don’t want to nag, and please don’t take this personally, but you are missing the woods for the trees.

    The point is NOT if JPO should, or should not, have got his hands on a press card. That is irrelevant. What is extremely relevant is whether a fair and just person should have given the person he was calling corrupt, an opportunity to rebut the accusations leveled against him.

    The failure of AS to be fair (or at least appear to be so) is the most worrying signal that he could have sent out to the middle of the road intelligent voter, i.e. that the wolf may have got a nice new sheep’s coat, but the teeth and all the predator instincts are still there.

  21. Vanni says:

    @ Christina Borg

    So if the PN do it, it’s OK if MLP does it as well?

    So exactly what changes are MLP offering?

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Or is this all a nice smoke screen?

  22. Christina Borg says:

    @ vanni

    I’m not justifying the way one should dodge the media and press, but as far as I know JPO is not, and has never been a journalist. What right does he have to attend a press conference, where specifically only journalists were invited? All this is going beyond the point.

    I don’t believe one should vote for MLP for just the sake of change, but at the end, the notion of having something better should already give you a different direction.

  23. europarl says:

    Daphne, you embarrass Plato, Burke and Jefferson; you’re quoting them in the wrong context. I’ll explain why.

    Those words relate to powers that legislate and rule. They were not meant to describe petty Red-Blue squabbles on an island province where the Centre-Leftish Right battles the Centre-Rightish Left over the better side of an egg.

    They aim to interpret aspects of tyrannical rule… the relationship between states and the people they govern through the laws they enact and the spirit in which they execute those laws.

    Malta forms part of the ‘United States of Europe’ (to be), complete with the “FBI” and with one future common defence, and common wars too (that’s the Lisbon Treaty – it’s fact not “conspiracy theory”).

    The Maltese government already has very limited legislative power and it will have much less power (in areas where it matters most) after the Lisbon Treaty enters into force on 01.01.2009 (with subsequent benchmarks, eg. 2014).

    Moreover, the EU of which Malta forms part also forms part of Westen civilization, led by the USA (and that’s where the trends for the future lie, if only you seek).

    The USA and the EU have been harmonising legislation for at least the past six years. The West is gradually uniting under TWO centralised, supra-national governments (very big and powerful). Norwell will love it, give and take racism – which does not suit the powers that rule.

    So here are some more quotes. Just a quick sweep… even if they’d be lost on you. I’m sure your antennae would interpret them through your Santoscopic lenses, equipped with feelers for such fantasies as bewigged marionettes and Lions of Change.

    EU Constitution?

    “The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State”
    – Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21 June 2004
    (He could have said it better: a centrlised federation, or as Barroso famously described it last July, “an empire”)

    “The good thing about not calling it a Constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum.” – Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato, Vice presdient of the Convention that drafted the Constitution for a new EU which they called “European Union” (x’kummmbinazzjoni!).

    Lisbon Treaty?

    “Looking at the content, the result is that the institutional proposals of the constitutional treaty… are found complete in the Lisbon Treaty, only in a different order and inserted in former treaties. […] Above all, it is to avoid having referendum thanks to the fact that the articles are spread out and constitutional vocabulary has been removed. […] They are therefore imposing a return to the language that they master and to the procedures they favour, and in doing
    so alienate the citizens further.”
    – President of the Convention that drafted the EU Constitution, Valéry Giscard D’Estaing, Le Monde (27.10.2007).


    Let’s look at the US past for that is where the EU future lies (give and take the Soviet added flavour):

    “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” – Thomas Jefferson

    “The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise their power from behind the scenes.”– Justice Felix Frankfurter, U.S. Supreme Court.

    “Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” – President Woodrow Wilson

    “War on Terror”?

    Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    ~ Benjamin Franklin

    A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.
    ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised “for the good of its victims” may be the most oppressive.
    – C. S. Lewis

    “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
    – John Adams (1814)

    “In a totalitarian state, it doesn’t matter what people think, since the government can control people by force using a bludgeon. But when you can’t control people by force, you have to control what people think, and the standard way to do this is via propaganda (manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusions), marginalizing the general public or reducing them to apathy of some fashion.”
    — Noam Chomsky (in better days, when the bludgeon and the cage were used less, and political correctness was only starting its transformation into totalitarianism).

    And from the devils’ mouths:

    “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State.”
    – Dr. Joseph M. Goebbel

    “The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.”
    – J. Edgar Hoover

    “We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order”
    – David Rockefeller (Him)

    “What luck for rulers that men do not think.” — Adolf (Him)

    So, you see, tyranny in Malta is not about Sant or Gonzi. It’s about the laws being enacted and those as yet to come, compounded the decisions to be taken by intricate powers who we not only do not know, but do not even know we ought to know.

    Vote Harry, get Freddy!

  24. Vanni says:

    @ Christina Borg

    I am sure you won’t mind me clearing up a little detail.

    You wrote in your previous:

    “everyone is blaming Dr Sant for not confronting JPO, and we’re all forgetting how Mr Lawrence Gonzi manages to dodge the press and media”

    I am sorry but it is clear here that you are excusing AS on the grounds that LG does the same. So Labour is offering more of the same? So there is no winds, lions, tigers, coaches etc of change after all? Just a new coat of change, and hey presto we have a new catchy logo?

    So why should a voter find MLP attractive? You are offering nothing new, or even different.

    Now to the crunch of the matter. Fact, JPO chased AS all over for the days leading up to the incident. Why didn’t AS face him? Why does one get the impression that this particular item was brought out now, when the most political damage could be made? Was it that no chance would be provided to JPO to fight the accusation?

    So what was JPO to do? Accept meekly that he was being politically nuked? Or fight back? I know what I would have done, and so does everybody else. Fight back and clear his name. Only AS didn’t give him the chance, which raises questions about how accurate are the claims being made.

    Let me put it another way. If I say that pigs fly, and am not ready to substantiate my claims, you may believe that I am being flexible with the truth. However if I provide irrefutable evidence of a porker whizzing by, you would be right in harboring some doubts next time you buy some perzut.

    Going back to your parting statement, wherein you wrote:
    “I don’t believe one should vote for MLP for just the sake of change, but at the end, the notion of having something better should already give you a different direction.”

    One changes not just for the sake of it, but for something better. In this we have found a common ground. Slight problem is that MLP is not better, as according to you, it copying what what you perceive the PN is doing. So why should we accept a clone as being better?

  25. Ivan Borg says:

    Certain comments appearing in this blog and in the media in general prompted me to write a few words, something that I rarely do. I m noticing that many entries and letters in newspapers are coming from people working in the EU institutions – some of them in this blog and one is hiding behind the name of “europarl” – which I take as meaning the European Parliament. May these people be reminded that if it were’nt for a Nationalist administration that applied for membership of the EU in 1990 they arent occupying the well-paid, cosy office they are in right now – be it in Brussels, Luxembourg and Frankfurt. I am not interested whether they voted Labour or AD in 2003, the vote is personal, but the point is that they had the chance to become rich, work in very prestigious institutions, enrich their culture, learn new languages, have permanent jobs and so on – the list is endless. This is fair and just – the opportunities are there for all to grab (and they are being grabbed), without distinction, and I myself am one of them (with a temporary contract). Any further comments are superfluous, except that from no quarter did I hear a single THANK YOU to the party that worked so hard to giving us these opportunities. To add insult to injury these same people criticise the PN with confused, arrogant, “I know all” arguments that they think we, the common mortals are following with keen interest. Just give us a break and learn how to say thank you first!

  26. Victor Laiviera says:

    Vanni, If I took things ‘personally’ I wouldn’t be posting here.

    I happen to think that the question of how and why JPO was given a press-card he had no right to is very relevant indeed, as it shows that government bodies are being used to serve the PN.

    JPO had (has) every opportunity to rebut the
    allegations made against him – in the press, the media, Net TV, etc. He seems to be insisting he will only do it face-to-face. WHY?

    I think it’s because he knows he cannot do it with facts but only on emotional grounds.

    The documents the MLP released are simply too damning.

    [Moderator – cowardly, cowardly custard, you can’t eat mustard.]

  27. Victor Laiviera says:

    Vanni, you might like to have a look hare:


  28. Matthew says:

    I can`t really see what the problem is with Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando being issued with a press pass. I would have thought Net News are entitled to send whoever they want to a press conference.

    If Alfred Sant had made plans to discover cheese on Mars the thrust of his pre-electoral campaign (and who would be surprised?) then surely Net TV would be entitled to send a cheese-eating astronaut to represent question him at a press conference if they so wish.

    As it is, the thrust of Alfred Sant`s campaign for several days was Jeffrey Pullicinno Orlando so they sent Jeffrey Pullicinno Orlando. He is pretty well placed to ask pertinent questions on that particular area of interest.

    Probably much more so in Malta than the rest of the Western world, journalists do not belong to a “profession” even remotely in the same sense that lawyers and doctors are considered professionals.

    Many seem to see it as stepping stone to working in PR, the civil service or in some cases, to actually becoming aspiring politicians themselves.

    On Monday you can go to a job interview and, if they like you, you can be a journalist on Tuesday, even if you have no training or experience whatsoever. I was going to say that the only necessary qualification was an ability to read and write but, well, let`s not go there.

    For the IMJ to say that giving Pullicino Orlando a press card is a “parody of the journalism profession” is pretty lofty talk when you consider what normally passes anyway. Let`s face it, your average Super 1 or NET News journalist is hardly a paragon of fair, objective and balanced reporting. Whatever that is supposed to be when it`s at home.

    Besides in the footage Pullicino Orlando very clearly didn`t unprofessionally “disrupt” the press conference because the press conference had not even started. He quite calmly asked Sant to sit down and said that he only wanted to ask a few questions.

    He became more emotional only when it was obvious that Sant was not prepared to allow the press conference to go ahead or answer his questions.

    Certainly, a politician substituting a journalist with a politician has ethical considerations but I think that when the news organisation actually belongs to a political party, that becomes a bit of a moot point.

    If Net TV has lost credibility then that is an issue for them and their viewers. None of whom I can imagine are that concerned with the journalistic ethics side of it. I don`t know why that would be such an issue for Alfred Sant.

    The biggest red herring is that Pullicino Orlando shouldn`t have been there because he is an electoral candidate. Certainly, the principle that individual candidates should not have the advantage of disproportionate exposure on public broadcasting is commendable in theory. I don`t think this case is really a great example of the spirit behind that principle though.

    Where the leader of the opposition has targetted one particular candidate`s integrity over several days, to then say that the same candidate shouldn`t appear at a press conference to ask a few questions lest he gain an unfair advantage over the other candidates is farcical.

    A: Can I single you out and beat you over the head several times with this hammer?
    B: Er, OK but I am going to hit you back once with this stick of celery.
    A: No sorry, that would give you an unfair advantage.

  29. Vanni says:

    @ Victor Laiviera

    The issue is NOT if JPO had or didn’t have any knowledge of the affair. That is as relevant to the incident in question as much as whether JPO possesses a press card or not, or as much if it is sunny or raining outside at the moment.

    The issue here is, is it right that anybody should make an accusation, without leaving recourse to a reply? Pls don’t tell me that he has legal recourse, because till the matter is resolved in court, we would be in the next century.

    This leads me to the next question. Why was the matter brought out at the 11th hour? Was this an exercise in cynicism?

    A responsible and fair person would have offered JPO every opportunity to rebut the claims. Chucking mud around and than scrambling for the hills is infantile.

    Malta expects honesty and integrity from its leaders, and in most peoples book, AS’s mismanagement of the whole sordid affair, while convincing the MLP diehards, who didn’t need any convincing in the first place, failed to impress the rest, and failed miserably at that as JPO won the moral high ground, and turned what could have been an awkward situation to his advantage.

    You see, Mr. Laiviera, people hate bullies. JPO appealed to peoples’ sense of fair play, and the image of AS standing with arms akimbo under the crosscraft logo, which I would have found hilarious in any other instance, gave out the worst possible signal. He looked cold and dare I say it, inhuman, with his poker mask on, and contrasted sharply with JPO’s visible emotion.

    AS, seeing he had been cornered, should have gone in damage control mode, and made a promise to JPO, in front of all and sundry, to substantiate his accusations. Even if he would have chosen Super 1, (the lion’s den as far as JPO would have been concerned) for a venue, JPO would have had to accept this poisoned chalice, or immediately fade away from politics.

    If Noble would still have been around to prop up AS’s image, he would have resigned on the spot.

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