Taking meritocracy for a ride

Jason Micallef’s nomination to the post of Chairman of V18 undermines the whole concept of meritocracy and ignores the spirit of rewarding competence and aptitude.

Journalists were enthralled with the recent appointment at the board of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, so much so, that they failed to ask PM questions about the EU predicted 3.7% deficit for 2013. A far cry from the government's 2.7% target. for 2013.

The appointment of Jason Micallef as Chairman of V.18  led to a concerted volley of criticism from those who feel that he is 'not fit for purpose'.

That sentiment was echoed exactly by the Nationalist Party in a statement issued immediately after Micallef was appointed.

The PN's objection to Jason Micallef, former secretary-general of the Labour Party, as Chairman of V18 should have been supported by some solid arguments.

Objecting to someone simply because of his political allegiances is not good enough.

Any objection to Micallef should have been grounded in the argument that there were other people better suited for the post and that Micallef does not have a holistic understanding of culture.

The argument (advocated by Mario de Marco) that people in politics have no place in such a position should be questioned, more so when one remembers that the Nationalist administration appointed as Head of the Mediterranean Conference Centre Dr Peter Fenech, a well-known canvasser of the former PN Minister Louis Galea and also Michael Fenech, the former PN campaign manager as head of St James Cavalier.

The endemic problem with members of the political class is that whenever they accuse each other of bad judgement or failing to respect the principle of meritocracy, they forget their own tradition of ignoring it.

Jason Micallef's nomination to the post of Chairman of V18 undermines the whole concept of meritocracy and ignores the spirit of rewarding competence and aptitude.

However, what is more worrying, as our front-page story attests, is that Junior Culture Minister Jose Herrera is definitely not the man to be trusted.

No matter how hard Muscat tried to cover up for Herrera, it was obvious that the junior minister jumped the gun.

There were clear undercurrents at the highest level of the administration that the Micallef nomination should be stopped.

It is clear that Muscat needs to be stronger and face the music when it starts playing.

He used the same crooked yardstick when looking the other way as Claudette Abela Baldacchino was accepted to stand in the European Union MEP elections.

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The election of a new Nationalist Party leader may be a foregone conclusion. (This editorial was composed before the votes were counted on Saturday night.)

Whoever is appointed Nationalist leader he has a gargantuan task ahead of him.

His first task is to turn the tide in favour of the PN and to help the party reinvent itself.

It will not be easy.

But it is necessary if we are to embrace the value of democracy and pluralism in a country which is in dire need of a functional government and a vigilant opposition.

This is an opportunity for the Nationalist Party to reconstruct itself according to the principles that were supposedly at the heart of its values and to look beyond to a changing society and world.

In the past we declared on several occasions that the PN had lost its soul, detached itself from reality and created a system based on nepotism and 'the network system'.

The pity is that the political class has not realised that for the system of political patronage to change there needs to be some radical transformation in the institutions, and this can only come about through a new way of thinking.

It is a great misfortune that this new thinking has still not arrived with the new Labour administration. Perhaps it is too early to say, but it appears that the old ways die hard and many of the mistakes committed by the previous administration are being repeated today, until now, that is.

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