Your job is not a copy-paste

That change brings a breath of fresh air is understood, but that merit plays no part in most of the choices is sad, to say the least.

Cartoon by Mark Scicluna
Cartoon by Mark Scicluna

That the new government says it needs trustworthy people is fine. That does not mean the people given this trust should be blind political supporters unwilling to question their master's orders.

But what has happened so far is not encouraging.

This newspaper was not surprised with the change that took place in March, but it does not agree that the appointments made so far all point in the right direction. There are way too many thank-you appointments and ones that could have been avoided altogether.

The appointment of former PN maverick Franco Debono and former PN mayor Robert Musumeci are cases in point.

But there are others.

That change brings a breath of fresh air is understood, but that merit plays no part in most of the choices is sad, to say the least.

We at MaltaToday believe in meritocracy, not as a slogan but as a solution to this country's endemic political mediocrity.

That the rhetoric of blue and red means nothing - yet means so much among the criteria of board appointments is distressing.

Joseph Muscat should have ensured that many of the board appointments were transitory, before the establishment of a proper structure, such that the boards were comprised, ultimately, of experienced people who have something substantial to contribute.

It is also disheartening to note that those PN dissidents who broke ranks were the first to be recognised for their contributions.

It was very much welcomed that the old faces that dominated the boards, committees and entities were asked to leave and replaced with new faces.

But change in itself is not enough.

This newspaper understands that in positions of trust and positions wherein abuse was rampant, there was no point in keeping the same old faces. Fear of removing certain individuals because of the golden handshakes that happened before the election should be contested in a court of law - most especially in those cases where appointments were made without a call for applications.

But our real concern is that the whole exercise of change has been scuttled, since the raison d'être of appointments was basically a copy-paste of the previous administration's.

It will only be a matter of time before boards that are dominated by party cronies get involved in the wrong decisions and, more significantly, in gatekeeping exercises.

The talk of meritocracy that was such an eloquent bit of Labour marketing in the run-up to the election has turned out to be a false dream.

It is clearly very easy to talk meritocracy but a completely different matter to walk it: implementation is another beast entirely.

It gets worse when it becomes apparent that the appointees are in so many ways far from competent and have been selected only because of their allegiance and their support for the government in power.

A meritocracy does not come about by erecting billboards with pretty faces and praising the ideal. It comes about through reform and putting your money where your mouth is.

When former PN Secretary General Joe Saliba - who simply disappeared upon the announcement of the 2013 PN defeat - proposed in the 2008 electoral manifesto that board appointments should be followed by a call for applications, his suggestion was welcomed with amusement.

It was never implemented because it was impractical. But in reality the proposal was a reaction to public outcry - that is, the assertion that boards, consultancies and other appointments must be based on ability and merit rather than political affiliation.

The model underpinning Maltese political life is that many enter politics because they want something in return.

We wonder if Muscat's institutional reform also includes a change in mentality respecting appointments. Our hunch is that he has missed the boat.

And we can't help but think that all he has done is copy and paste the faults of the previous administration.

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This development provides us with two possible scenarios. Either Joseph Muscat went to the election on a blatant lie or else there must be a puppet master/s pulling his strings. Whatever the case it is a huge dissapointment and proves yet again that it will take generations to eradicate tribal politics in Malta and throw it into the history books. When will appointments on merit become the norm. How totallly disheartening. They are no different to their predecessors. Both parties can now be tainted with the same brush. I am sure that most voters - from all sides - are totally dismayed and disillusioned. Reality sucks.
This article sums up what has being goi on in my mind at each announcement of new appointees. People should be appointed on merit and valid contribution. PL is heading in the wrong direction, it is failing to follow its own criticism
It is amazing how blind PL supporters are. After they criticised the PN government for making political appointments, they now praise their own government for doing the same! In fact Joseph Muscat has quite barefacedly made a mockery of the term 'meritocracy' by placing people in positions of power regardless of their experience, ability or qualifications. The only qualification one needs in his new government is to be LABOUR! So much for all his preaching against divisive politics. Every single appointment he has made so far, beginning with those of Franco Debono and Anglu Farrugia, and ending with that of Jason Micallef, have been divisive. If this was intended, then this government simply lies through its teeth. If it was not, then it could not be more incompetent.