A journalist rings a public officer with questions he doesn’t like, and he publishes the journalist’s phone number on Facebook

Published: August 1, 2016 at 4:56pm

This is the squalid nature of substandard government that we are dealing with now. Yesterday I wrote about Neville Gafa, a close friend of Keith Schembri and former classmate of Joseph Muscat, who is part of their corrupt cabal and who worked for both Keith Schembri at the Office of the Prime Minister and then for Konrad Mizzi when he was made Health Minister, Godfrey Farrugia having been conveniently removed for the purpose.

The Sunday Times had published a report which revealed that Gafa had been taking payments for the issuing of ‘medical visas’ to Libyans. These are visas which are granted for the express purpose of allowing Libyans to travel to Malta to receive treatment at the hospitals and clinics here. It is a system which is greatly abused, with those who cannot obtain a standard visa trying and getting a visa on medical grounds instead.

The Sunday Times report said that the Attorney-General had examined Neville Gafa’s activities and that the permanent secretary at the Health Ministry had reported the matter to the police. I assumed that in that case, Gafa would have been fired from his post as he is not a civil servant but in a position of trust – which means that he was put on the state payroll as a political appointee in 2013.

Yet The Sunday Times report made no mention of that so I rang Gafa to ask him whether he was still in a position of trust at the Health Ministry. He didn’t reply, hit the ‘call reject’ button, and then, because he doesn’t know my number, sent a message asking me to text him. When I did, he ignored my message completely, and then copied it and uploaded it on full public view on Facebook, telling people that it’s my phone number, hoping to encourage abusive telephone calls which are a crime under Maltese law.

My number is public already (I want people to be able to contact me easily) so that aspect of it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me, on the other hand, is the disgraceful lack of standards in government administration. Under the previous government – under any sensible government the world over – had a public official reacted to a journalist’s legitimate questions by publishing his/her telephone number and encouraging insults from others on his Facebook page, he would have been suspended and would have faced disciplinary proceedings.

Neville Gafa’s behaviour belongs to the Erdogan administration in Turkey.

Here we have a public official who has not been suspended from his job at the Health Department, despite having been reported to the police for fraud and corruption by the permanent secretary at the Health Ministry itself, behaving with arrogant impunity and reacting abusively to a journalist’s questions, safe in the knowledge that he’s cosy with Keith, Konrad and Joseph.

That is how bad things are.

Neville Gafa with Konrad Mizzi

Neville Gafa with Konrad Mizzi

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