That lazy good-for-nothing fossil from the Mintoff years, Mario Vella, is to head Malta Enterprise

Published: March 17, 2013 at 9:41pm
Mario Vella

Mario Vella

Mario Vella is one of the relics from the Mintoff/KMB Golden Years, the man who headed the Malta Development Corporation when Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici was prime minister and Malta was a total shambles in every way.

He has been Joseph Muscat’s mentor and guru since Muscat was in his early 20s. Vella inspired Muscat’s doctoral thesis, which he wrote when he was serving as a member of the European Parliament in his 30s.

Vella’s work is referenced in that thesis, and some bits seem to me to have been written not by Joseph Muscat but by Mario Vella. Though of course I cannot say this with certainty, and I could never make such a serious accusation without proof, I hear in parts of that thesis the distinctive voice and language of Mario Vella and not that of our prime minister.

Mario Vella’s defining characteristic, other than his old-school Marxist beard, is his lazy floundering about in world of Marxist pseudo-intellectualism that belongs to another era. His official biography tells us that after leaving the London School of Economics (in the early 1970s, when it was red) he studied at “the Humboldt in Berlin”.

He conveniently fails to mention that at the time, this famous old university was not called the Humboldt because the controlling Soviet Communist Party had forced it to change its name in 1949 and it was only able to take back its old name in 1990 – and yes, it wasn’t “in Berlin” but in East Berlin, behind the Berlin Wall.

When Mario Vella was there, the university was under the strict ideological control of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) which rigorously selected students to make sure that all conformed to the Communist Party line, so that there was no democratic opposition or even the seeds of it on campus.

Its rector was Communist Party member and former Stasi spy Heinrich Fink.

Its students were communist (bear in mind that this was the worst of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was a real threat) and approved by the Communist Party. Mario Vella from Malta, approved by friend-of-the-Soviets Dom Mintoff, was one of them.

When the Nationalist Party was elected to government in 1987, Mario Vella was considered a person not to be trusted and also completely unfit for the role of Malta Development Corporation CEO. Not only was he considered not to have the required skill set, but he had also been operating in a system, which he had helped developed, which ran contrary to everything the Nationalist Party stood for: a protected economy with Maltese industry developing on the back of import substitution, with the concurrent ban on imports or high tariffs to discourage market growth of imported commodities.

Vella was relieved of his duties, and says that for nine years, until Labour were returned to power in 1996, he sat in an office with absolutely nothing to do. Nothing.

This says a great deal more about him than it does about the government which had good reason not to trust him. Rather than leaving and finding something exciting, rewarding and fulfilling to do in the rapidly burgeoning private sector, he went to work every day and sat in a silent office reading his books and collecting his salary.

He had some fun under Labour in 1996-1998, when he stroked Joseph Muscat, then still in his early 20s, into senior positions within his sphere of control (industry again), but then when Labour were voted out in 1998 he joined the private sector and eventually the consulting firm Grant Thornton where he remains today.

Joseph Muscat continues to look up to him (that daddy complex again…) and this reference in a newspaper report is clearly to Mario Vella, though I seem to be the only one to have picked it up, perhaps because I’m one of the few remaining individuals who were already working in the media back when Mario Vella went to work every day and sat in a room and did nothing for nine whole years.

Dr Muscat stressed that the permanent secretaries who would be replaced would not be discarded. Their talents would be utilised in other roles and “nobody would be locked in a room and given nothing to do,” he said, stressing that everyone would be treated with dignity.

36 Comments Comment

  1. Makjavel says:

    Labour has given us a minister for animal rights, but no minister for human rights.

  2. Jozef says:

    It is quite simply, the worst choice for that post. He’ll go all ideological on the nature of investment.

    People wanted change Daphne, are they going to get it.

  3. ciccio says:

    Joseph Muscat’s government is giving new meanings to the words “new” and “change.”

    We are in uncharted territory here.

  4. It-tezi ta' Mario says:

    Do you really think Joseph Muscat wrote this? It sounds like vintage Mario Vella.

    “In the manner of philosophy, which, in the words of Hegel, like the owl of Minerva takes flight at dusk, at the end of a civilisation’s highest moment, this study begins with an investigation of a phenomenon that mereges, globally and historically, at the end of Fordist epoch of capitalism, or, at least, at a time of Fordism in crisis”

    You can read the full document here:

    The biographical note (PDF p. 161, section 4.3.1) references Mario Vella, and flatteringly references Anthony Giddens’ introduction to a book in which one of Vella’s essays appears.

  5. Gahan says:

    Vella was handed a handsome amount of money when Sant became prime minister for this psychological torture in the MDC dungeons.

  6. caflanga says:

    He’s also a visiting lecturer in Socioligy at the University of Malta (where Helena Dalli lectures as well):

  7. TROY says:

    Yes, first we will give the permanent secretaries a fair trial and then we’ll shoot them.

    • We will let them think we are going to cut off both their hands.

      Then we will tell them we are going to cut off only one.

      And they will not only thank us, but will say that we are kind and generous.

  8. AE says:

    So the 1970s communists are starting to raise their heads. That didn’t take long.

    Separately, can someone please tell me how Muscat is going to finance the cost of this Cabinet for this year since the budget which is about to be approved is that prepared by Tonio Fenech which certainly didn’t cater for this extra cost of circa eur6mullion (if I understand the maths right)?

  9. Mars says:

    What is depressing is that Mario Vella collected his salary for doing nothing while the Nationalist government did nothing about it. Unfortunately there are similar cases. The Nationalists need to grow b–ls.

  10. Dissident says:

    Very good read – it’s very imporant for young people to get an insight into the backround on these dinosaurs.

  11. Ghoxrin Punt says:

    Interesting, Toni Abela is quoted on The Malta Independent as not wanting to repeat the mistakes done by PN.

    It might be better if they did not repeat the mistakes made by Mintoff, KMB and Sant.

    Ooops, but they already have with the number of ‘administrative’ errors over the last few days.

    They have already broken one of their 20 priorities. All the work involved in sending out all those erroneous letters increased beurocracy by 25% and not decreased it.

    This appointment is going to break another two of their promises. Allowing us to work and increasing employment.

  12. Min Jaf says:

    It is getting worse and worse, not by the day, but by the hour.

  13. TGTBT says:

    Malta taghhom biss.

  14. canon says:

    If Mario Vella still believes in Karl Marx and in a planned economy he will not be of great use to Malta Enterprise. Let us see if he can bring new investors.

  15. P Shaw says:

    To be honest, I was expecting this at any moment. Didn’t he hold the same position between 1996 -1998?

    Grant Thornton isn’t any normal audit/ consultancy firm either. During the Sant administration of 1996 – 1998, Grant Thornton were responsible for the revision of the water and electricity rates when the oil price was $13 per barrel. The managing partner at the time was Mr. Bonello Cole, who is very close to the MLP.

    [Daphne – Martin Bonello Cole died last October, of cancer. That’s the reason I didn’t mention him.]

    Mario Vella was not actually working at Grant Thornton; he was simply parked there as a favour to the MLP. Other MLP persons are ‘working’ there as directors in the consultancy section of the firm. This is a consultancy firm to watch over the next five years. They will become quite busy with consultancy.

  16. Len says:

    Mario Vella? Great.

    He read economics in a Soviet-controlled university in East Berlin in the 1970s, handpicked to go there because of his communist beliefs and the fact that he came from Red Malta, friend of the Soviets.

    That’s like studying democracy in China, Christian theology in Bahrain, quantum mechanics in Afganistan or male ballet dancing in Saudi Arabia.

  17. george grech says:

    Miskin, Silvio Parnis.

    Insomma wahda qal tajba: “Joseph dejjem jivvinta”.

  18. Len says:

    Health Minister’s first interview by Illum as reported on Maltatoday.

    “This way, I will be able to see better how this department operates every day,” Farrugia told Illum in an interview.

    This man is unbelivable, the way these people thinks is beyond belief. So the minister will set up his office at the Accident & Emergency/Admittance Department to see how this works.

    I’ll tell you how it works cause I worked there. People phone 112. Nurses go pick the patients up, take them back to hospital. Doctors see patient. Patient dies go to mortuary. Patient no good go to ward for further treatment and if patient is good goes home.

    It is as simple as ABC.

    There will be no humping nurses, no parties, no employees sleeping on duty.

    Installing the Health Minister in the emergency department won’t help anyone and will take up much-needed space.

    Bunch of headless chickens. What’s next, the minister of transport setting up his office on an Arriva bus?

  19. Matthew S says:

    One week in and I am absolutely sick and tired of people who, even at this very late stage, are making the switch.

    I keep hearing people who voted Nationalist last weekend say that they voted with a heavy heart, that maybe the loss is for the better, that maybe Labour aren’t too bad (they haven’t burned or beaten up anybody yet, you know) and that Simon, Tonio, Mario and the rest are not as good as they thought they were. What utter hogwash.

    It’s like people are ashamed or scared of being in a minority. Well, I’m here to say that THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING PART OF THIS (BIG) MINORITY.

    Majorities, in and of themselves, don’t mean anything. Being more does not make them right.

    It was a majority who once decided that Barabbas should be crucified instead of Jesus. It was a majority who decided that certain women should be burnt at the stake for alleged witchcraft. It was a majority who decided that Nicolaus Copernicus should be persecuted for suggesting that the world goes around the sun and not vice-versa. It was a majority who thought that Charles Darwin was a loony for suggesting that humans are apes’ descendants. It was a majority who once thought that Adolf Hitler was a great leader.

    Majorities, in and of themselves, mean zilch and people with full analytical faculties should base their decisions and opinions on more weighty matters.

    Here are a few recent elections where, had I voted, I would have loved to be part of the minority.

    In France, I would have voted for Nicolas Sarkozy.

    In Italy, I would have voted for Mario Monti.

    In Kenya, I would have voted for Raila Odinga.

    In Malta, I voted for Lawrence Gonzi.

    None of these would have been last minute decisions taken in the polling booth but decisions taken long before the electoral campaigns had even started.

    I believe in a free and open market (Francoise Hollande doesn’t).

    I don’t approve of politicians accused of tax evasion and sexual misconduct (Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of both and found guilty of the former).

    I don’t approve of politicians who think that politics is a joke and fails to realise that people’s future depends on it (Beppe Grillo).

    I believe in human rights and freedom of speech (Uhuru Kenyatta has been indicted by the International Criminal Court).

    I believe in the European project (Joseph Muscat’s cabinet is made up of people who have been campaigning against it for the last 40 years.)

    These are my long standing values and they’re not up for sale. I’m not trying to develop a plot of land illegally. I’m not looking for a cushy job with the government. I’m not asking Manuel Mallia to drop legal proceedings against me.

    I vote according to my principles and what I believe is right. If that means being in a minority, then so be it.

    Anyone who does otherwise should be ashamed of himself.

  20. Gordon says:

    From what I understand, he may also be referring to Mario Cutajar – who seems to have had the same fate in Austin’s ministry.

    These guys are surely not worth much and we will surely witness a regression in public policy as well in industrial policy competitiveness – God help us.

  21. Peppa says:

    Bongu Malta socjalista.

  22. maryanne says:

    Libya, interesting times ahead.

    “Mario Vella is Director of Foreign Direct Investment and International Business Services at Grant Thornton in Malta, where he is also responsible for coordinating Libyan assignments.” › People › Our team

  23. maryanne says:

    This, and more, is Mario Vella for you.

    “They contrast the enthusiasm and activity of 96-98 with the desolation and utter absence of any sign of life especially since the announcement of something called Malta Enterprise.”

    “There are many Labour supporters who feel that in 96-98 we did not do enough for the victims of Nationalist discrimination during 87-96. Indeed they accuse us of having placed too much energy on a policy of national pacification in the public sector and of having neglected their expectation of swift and fair resolution of their claims.”

    “This government’s pompous style lends itself well to humour. The Labour media needs to induce audiences to laugh at this government. A government that is laughed at is one that will eventually be laughed out.”

    Moreover, I cannot emphasise this enough, in 2008 the Nationalist leadership, cabinet and all, will be ancient.”

  24. Il-Cop says:

    So we have Mario Vella head of Malta Enterprise and Mario Cutajar head of the Civil Service.

    Both men are committed communists.

    Since, as the Maltese saying goes, ‘il-borma fuq tlieta toqghod’, there is HMS Brazen’s own AST dictating foreign policy. So nice.

    Which department is Joe Vella Bonnici going to head?

    Malta taghna llkoll, as long as you’re Old School Labour.

    The slogan was perfect.


    • ciccio says:

      We also have Evarist Bartolo, Minister of Education and Labour, who is a commie.

      So now the circle is complete. Another “generazzjoni socjalista” from the cradle to the grave.

  25. Paul says:

    Wait till you learn who they are lining up for the Gaming Authority. Hint hint, it’s a John Dalli acolyte

  26. SM says:

    Brilliant first move for the “Business as usual” strategy, putting a communist in charge of an entity whose main aim is to facilitate capitalist ventures.

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