Laws for gods and animals, it’s a never-ending cycle

The fact is that nothing can change what the assassination of Daphne means, that corrupt business and politics joined forces with a criminal mafia to remove the member of the press who at the time had put her finger on Labour’s treachery

File Photo
File Photo

Beyond the fact that most people are absolutely drained upon reading more about the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, despite its importance to us as a nation, the post-inquiry reaction to me has been one that ignores the complexity of media independence, freedom and liberty.

Let it be said that I have stated time and time again, that the role of the State and its highest officials in the assassination’s cover-up, misleading both the executive and the press, is unpardonable. Their malevolence in killing someone who revealed the intricate connection of a corrupt political elite and business, will mean that the day will come to pass when Joseph Muscat’s ‘legacy’ is erased forever. Nothing can expunge the malice that went through the minds of those whose intent to commit corruption, hide it and then orchestrate murder, was neatly covered up by an ambitious political programme.

That in itself, should be enough to anoint Caruana Galizia as a heroine.

So why do so many other people not share this view of Daphne? It is often something that has to be explained to those who have stumbled on this tragedy without a sense of history and why Caruana Galizia was actually disliked for some other things she wrote. Those who stood by her never admitted that her brusque style and the way Labour supporters in general were blindly attacked, was wrong. With her mix of gossip and wilful personal comments and unproven speculation, Caruana Galizia’s scatter-gun approach was despised by many. At least to those who did not like what she wrote (barring the reveals that had indeed exposed corruption), the journalist was considered to be someone who enjoyed stirring up denigration of Labour voters, associates, often in ways that dehumanised these people. A lot of what she wrote was considered unforgivable by the hundreds of targets whose ‘crime’ was often simply being associated with the Labour Party or its representatives. And when the arguments ran out, she could easily mock physical attributes, alleged sexual prowess, and other human flaws.

Are these people to blame for her murder? I think that would be unfair to state.

Certainly enough, she was unorthodox in her approach to journalism – more often that not, she preferred being completely separate from the media edifice, resenting structures and looking down on the more blue-collar members of the trade (in her short stint as associated editor at the Independent before 1996, she did not always work well in the newsroom); she was also jealous of her work, resenting editors’ censoring or tweaking of her columns. Some things, she chose not to write about: the 2013 oil scandal should have been grist for her mill, but alas, it targeted the wrong party...

The fact is that nothing can change what the assassination of Daphne means, that corrupt business and politics joined forces with a criminal mafia to remove the member of the press who at the time had put her finger on Labour’s treachery. As remarked by this newspaper’s editorial last week, it is a horrible irony that we are now talking about the future of journalism at the very expense of Daphne’s life.


Certainly enough, no committee or working group will understand what future lies for us in journalism other than those who work in the field and or those who raise the funds and capital to pay for its operation. As Maltese journalists who have a very shaky future ahead of us, threatened in part by low-paying digital media and the changing habits of our audiences – and not necessarily because of media “freedom” per se – we need the full engagement of all media stakeholders in the reforms to come.

My advice to those who will be speaking to us, from government luminaries to the PN’s #neveragain committee representative Emma Portelli Bonnici, is that “never again” must surely be equally applied to everyone.


The surprise news that a new ferry service to Augusta was blocked by the rival and dominant ferry service Virtu was revealing.

Virtu has cherished its monopolistic position for decades now, controlling high pricing and recording millions in profits every year. Competition is key to bringing down prices, and as such is healthy in the case of our maritime connection to Sicily.

Virtu’s boss Francis ‘Cikku’ Portelli thinks otherwise. Cikku objected to Ponte’s bid to use Augusta as its ferry landing, by blocking it at the eleventh hour with Virtu’s own bid for the port. Such timing! I am sure the more intelligent of us can smell a rat here: why is Virtu, already based in Pozzallo, seeking Augusta as a port; and which port in Sicily would really be ready to refuse more maritime traffic from Malta?

So check this out.

Two weeks ago, MaltaToday ran a front-page story on the Enematla oil scandal in which it was reminded, that Virtu director Cikku Portelli was still freely operating despite charges of money laundering he faces in connection in the oil scandal.

On Sunday morning at 7:30am, I receive a message, being accused that I am acting on behalf of the Zammit Tabona family (one of Ponte’s main shareholders), promptly calling me ‘zibel’ (garbage). I wrote back and did not mince my words, telling this Portelli family member what he needed to know and how a few years back, when reporting on a Virtu Finance bond issue, which prospectus referred to the pending criminal charges against Portelli, all Virtu advertising was immediately stopped in MaltaToday.

Well I told the Portelli family member that “my name is not Ivan Camilleri” and that I do not pick and choose what stories get covered in MaltaToday. Even when this newspaper had stories about Zammit Tabona’s Fortina development or their Captain Morgan business, this newspaper did not think twice in writing about them, or taking an editorial stance and worrying about losing advertising revenue.

Yet those who preach about good journalism have purposely only written about one side of the story. Those professing to be the pillars of true journalism, buckle under financial interests and political prejudice. The yardstick on how to report on who is accused of money laundering in Malta, seems to depend on whether you’re a pleb or have blue blood. God know had yours truly faced an accusation of fraud, theft or money laundering: it would be curtains for this newspaper.

For others, it is the complete opposition. They run their five-star hotels, open new ferry services, invest in retail, property and oil bunkering... the list never stops when class is on your side. Just take a look at all the accused in the 2013 oil scandal: they are still going strong! The gods keep smiling at them!

How do I know?

How could anyone be as entitled as to send out, without a shred of dignified coyness, a 7:30 am Sunday text calling you a mercenary and garbage? Well... times are good for the privileged of this land.