The whistleblowing farce

Where does this leave the Whistleblowers Act? Just as I predicted, it has turned out to be a piece of useless legislation that does not justify the political hype

Anthony Debono (left) with his wife, former Gozo minister Giovanna Debono
Anthony Debono (left) with his wife, former Gozo minister Giovanna Debono

When the first draft of the Whistleblowers Act was published well over ten years ago, I predicted it will prove to be a useless piece of legislation, particularly in the Maltese environment. The Gonzi administration was accused of dragging its feet about the proposed law and finally the law was enacted very soon after the first Muscat administration assumed power.

The thrust of the law is to give protection to employees who report illegalities or wrongdoing being carried out by their employers or by other employees, and it applies to both the public and private sector.

As far as I know, this law was applied only once since its enactment: in the case where the husband of the former Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono was accused of abusing his position. In this case, it was obvious – from the very idea of the whistleblower status being granted to a Gozitan contractor – that the motivation of a genuine whistleblower is expected to be quite different from that of the contractor who claimed he had accepted to carry out allegedly abusive works, and ended up without being paid for his services.

Debono was eventually not found guilty by the Magistrates Court – a decision that was recently confirmed by the Appeals Courts.

Without entering into the merits of the Debono case, there is no doubt that the so-called whistleblower had personal motives and interests in this case.

Where does this leave the Whistleblowers Act? Just as I predicted, it has turned out to be a piece of useless legislation that does not justify the political hype – from both the PN and the PL – with which it was put on the statute book.

On paper, whistleblowers are courageous people who are given the right to be protected from disciplinary action, retribution, discrimination and court action. The Gozitan contractor was certainly not one of these people. His respect for good and honest governance hardly played any part in his decision to take the advice of whoever told him to claim whistleblower status.

Yet, to date, this was the only case in which the Whistleblower Act was resorted to.

As I always insisted, in practice, any whistleblower in the private sector in Malta would be doomed to be unemployed for the rest of his or her life. Employees in the public sector would hardly fare any better – they would be permanently considered as a nuisance by the rest of the civil service.

Genuine whistleblowers are nowhere to be seen in Malta, because people prefer to do their thing protected with the veil of anonymity, rather than by law.

The real whistleblowing that goes on in Malta is called leaks to the press with which one can now add leaks to the bloggers and news sites who try – not so successfully – to replicate Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Running Commentary.

This is a small island where everybody knows everybody else, where too many people are related to each other and people act as these circumstances allow them. That is why much of the issues that led to the FATF greylisting will raise the hackles of a lot of people when stricter rules and laws will be imposed.

If I am reading the situation correctly, it seems that Robert Abela’s administration will currently push for the assuaging FATF concerns in cases that do not have any negative political impact on the government’s popularity.

The case of former PN Minister and EU Commissioner, John Dalli, is a case in point. After so many years, the police have now filed a criminal case against him over allegations that he solicited a €60 million bribe from a private company. Dalli denies all accusations.

Other steps that would harm the PL politically would be postponed till after the election. This makes the decision on the timing of the election of paramount importance to the matter of Labour being re-elected with a strong – but diminished – majority.

The Prime Minister knows well what his administration has to do... and needs no help from people given whistleblower status.

Tuna is back

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just released an update to its Red List. This list shows the extinction risk of thousands of species around the world. Unfortunately, more than 38,000 species are still facing the threat of extinction, but there were signs of recovery for some.

In 2011, most species of tuna were considered to be at serious risk of extinction. With 6 million tonnes thought to have been caught in 2019, these are some of the most commercially valuable fish in the world.

In this update, the status of seven commonly fished tuna species was reassessed and there was good news for four of them.

The Atlantic bluefin tuna moved from Endangered to Least Concern and the Southern bluefin became Endangered rather than Critically Endangered. Both albacore and yellowfin tunas went from being Near Threatened to Least Concern.

IUCN claims that ‘this is proof that sustainable fisheries approaches work, and have enormous long-term benefits for livelihoods and biodiversity.’



A line from John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Imagine’ has been projected on buildings around the world to mark 50 years since Lennon released his famous song.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace” was beamed onto several sites – from the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral in London to Times Square in New York to celebrate the anniversary.

The line was also beamed on Tuesday night in Berlin, Tokyo and in Lennon’s home city of Liverpool, emulating a similar projection campaign organised by Ono 20 years ago.

Lennon released the album Imagine on 9 September, 1971 and its title track has long been considered one of the greatest songs of all time, according to music publications.

I must admit that it is one of my favourite songs, not just for the music, but also for the lyrics.

I still cannot forget the day I heard the song being sung in Church, with nobody in the congregation – except me – noticeng that in the world Lennon asks people to imagine, there will be ‘no heaven’, ‘no hell’ and ‘no religion too’.