Journalist’s questions about Minister’s rep at St Vincent de Paule go unanswered

Published: April 3, 2013 at 10:37am

The Malta Independent’s online edition sent some significant questions to the government about Anthony Agius Decelis’s appointment as Marie Louise Coleiro Preca’s representative at St Vincent de Paule Home.

This government was elected on the campaign cry of Malta Taghna Lkoll, legitimacy, meritocracy and transparency.

This is an appointment which fails on all four counts, and the government’s refusal to reply to the legitimate and necessary questions by the press is again a failure on the last point: transparency.

The link to the story is below.

35 Comments Comment

  1. La Redoute says:

    The same could be said of Marlene Farrugia’s appointment.

  2. Lomax says:

    What nobody seems to be grasping (outside of this blog, that is) is that in spite of such appointment being remunerated or otherwise, there is a serious issue of power at stake. These appointees can really do anything they please because there is nothing and nobody to control them, not even their own minister because, given that it is not a constitutional and/or public service appointment, there are no checks and balances in place to temper their acts. There is no law to control “ministers’ emissaries”.

    I also wonder whether they can fall under the judicial review provisions of 469A of Chapter 12, yet another safeguard introduced by the Nationalist Government to protect against abuse perpetrated by means of “administrative acts” since that Articles speaks about administrative acts emanating from any public authority which is defined as: “the Government of Malta, including its Ministries and departments, local authorities and any body corporate established by law.”

    Would Marlene Farrugia and Agius Decelis fall within this definition? Are they civil servants? Agius Decelis yes – but if he has been engaged by the civil service to act as an ECG heart technician (or whatever) he can only be held accountable as to what he has been appointed for within the civil service. If the Minister thought it fit to appoint him to cover another role, then, strictly speaking, his public service appointment covers only those matters arising out of his engagement with the civil and hence, by definition, accountable limitedly only to whatever he does in furtherance of his engagement with the public service.

    Indeed, these appointments open new avenues of discussion in Administrative Law and public lawyers will surely have a field day.

    Furthermore, so many quarters of the media are labouring under the false impression that since these positions are not “remunerated” then it’s all right. Pierre Portelli actually said this on TVAM this morning. However, quite frankly, this opinion betrays a very shallow mind and even shallower reasoning process.

    In actual fact, the appointees not being paid for these appointments is even worse because they attract exactly this kind of reaction: it’s unpaid, so it’s all right then.

    However, two points need to be brought to the fore:-

    1. Payment actually creates control. The mere fact that somebody is paid creates a sort of loyalty to the payer. Employees work because they are paid. This, certainly, will seem to be a tautology of sorts but payment creates a bond of subservience, of accountability which free work doesn’t. I invite people to think about when they worked on a voluntary basis and when they worked for an employer. Voluntary work is, normally, enjoyed more because it is done freely but it creates less commitment and is done only if the remunerated work leaves time and space for it in one’s life. Payment, on the other hand, creates a sort of loyalty, a “conscience”, really, and above all, creates control by the payer (in this case the public coffers) and the payee. Many times, voluntary work can be loosely translated in “free rein”. The mere fact that a worker (of whatever nature) is paid creates (or should create in the worker) a strong sense of accountability, even in the public sphere. People expect more of you because you’re paid. I observed this whenever I was doing voluntary work. Whatever you do is praised to high heavens because you’re “sacrificing” yourself. However, at work, (remunerated work) whatever one can do is never quite enough because people want to recover in work what they pay in money. Hence, non-payment, quite frankly, is even more worrying for me than had the appointment to be actually paid.

    2. Appointments are not only paid by pecuniary means. Many times appointments are all about power and not money. Most times they involve both. However, being in a position of power is also a way of being paid and, quite frankly, being in an unpaid position of “power” can give the impression of unbridled power. “I’m not being paid, so I can do whatever I please”. The appointees in these cases shall not be decision-takers but how are we, the voters, to be certain that the decisions are really being taken by the Ministers concerned? (Lest I be misunderstood, I didn’t vote for any of these people).

    However, what is right and proper, the proper exercise of power and the delicate mechanisms of our laws are like water off a duck’s back for our government. But even more worrying is the fact that the government reflect exactly what people in the streets think: we’re not paying money, so it’s all right then and the again, who gives two hoots as long as money is not being paid.

    Money is not the only measure for propriety or otherwise of any government action. Our laws reflect this. It is very worrying that the government couldn’t be bothered.

    • La Redoute says:

      Given the range of professional and political experience of those in government, should we be surprised?

      This behaviour is no different to what we experienced in the 1970s and 1980s, yet whenever those years were mentioned, there was a collective yawn because “that was all so long ago.”

      And now here we are, repeating history because of those who didn’t want to remember it.

    • giraffa says:

      Hats off to Lomax for a very clear explanation of the risks of such government manouevres. I was appalled this morning to hear Pierre Portelli, of all people, state otherwise!

  3. Min Jaf says:

    This government is so transparent that one cannot even see it.

  4. judy says:

    Dak zgur ghazluh ghaliex jaf jaghmel il-figolli kif tridhom Marie Louise – aktar intrita u inqas zokkor jew xil-lostra bdiet tighd u thawwad il-bierah. Tal-misthija.

  5. rcamilleri says:

    Your questions will soon be answered by the Propaganda Department.

    Iii how transparent.

  6. Andrew Scicluna says:

    Maybe we are missing the wood for the trees – could it be that he is there to report to the minister what the parliamentary secretary for the elderly is doing – forsi M’Louise Coliero ma tafdahx lil Dr Franco Mercieca … min jaf?

  7. H.P. Baxxter says:

    This is the way it’s done:

  8. Just curious says:

    And what about the civil servants from the obstetric department from Mater Dei? Why have they taken new posts at the health ministry and what is their role?

  9. Candida says:

    Bl-istess ragunament allura nista immur naghti si-servizz tieghi lil Ministru li naghzel jien jew li hu habib tieghi Mela l-pozizzjonijiet fil Ministeri u d-dipartimenti jimtlew b’dan il-mod X’affarijiet dawn ukoll

    Lomax you are well read in your matter Well Done and thank you for your pricless and serious information.

  10. It-tezi ta' Mario says:

    Mario Vella is Chris Cardona’s representative at Malta Enterprise. Someone should be chasing his tail too.

  11. aston says:

    I apologise that this is off-topic, but I came across a Spectator article ( ) that I had to share with you if only for the following gem:

    “Now, less than four years after its foundation, his (Beppe Grillo’s) movement is the largest single party in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, after it secured 26 per cent of the poll at this week’s inconclusive Italian general elections. It is not, insists this fascist of the forest, a party. It is a movement. Parties, he is adamant, are the problem, not the solution.

    Mussolini founded his Fasci di Combattimento in Milan on 23 March 1919 and less than four years later he was prime minister. Fascism was not, he insisted, a party but a movement. Parties, he was adamant, were the problem, not the solution. Fascism would be an ‘anti-party’ of free spirits who refused to be tied down by the straitjacket of parties with their dogmas and doctrines. This is precisely what Grillo says about his own movement.”

    • ciccio says:

      The interesting question is: what position exactly has she ‘resigned’ from? We are not aware what position exactly she had been appointed to.

  12. Zunzana says:

    When are we going to start having people with Lomax’s clear logic debating these issues on the national media? Hope that the new PN leader will bring all this to the attention of the public in the future.

  13. xmun says:

    “Marlene Farrugia has resigned her role as aide to Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia, who is her partner.”

  14. J agius says:

    Resigned from what? Did she have an official role?

  15. Harry Purdie says:

    Totally out of control? Or a cunning plan.

  16. figolla says:

    Il-Ministru tkazat li l-figolli kellhom intrita daqs kemm kien fihom zokkor.

    Kull min jagħmel il-figolli jaf li dik hi d-doza t-tajba. Mela Marie Louise lanqas figolla ma hi kapaci tagħmel aħseb u ara kemm hi kapaci tmexxi ministeru.

    • Catsrbest says:

      Min jaf min ghamilhom kemm ha gost jismaghha taqa’ ghac-cajt. Tal-misthija, imma tghidx kemm dhaqt meta smajtha tgerrfex fuq iz-zokkor u l-intrita.

  17. Jonathan says:

    I don’t know what Mr. Agius Decelis’ private practice is, but his office in Mosta always has people lined up outside the door. This afternoon there were more than 30 people and not a single one was geriatric.

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