Bird Hunting
ELECTION DIARY | Sunday, 02 September 2007

Jason U-Tube and Sarko Saliba

Charlot zahra

Locally, there has not yet been a virtual debate; however, it was a clip posted on “You Tube” by unsuspecting canvassers of former Labour minister Charles Buhagiar that clearly illustrated the dangers of the public nature of the new medium for politicians.
It featured an impromptu speech by Labour secretary-general Jason Micallef at a private reception for the party faithful organised by Buhagiar’s canvassers at the New Dolmen Hotel in Qawra in June.
Since the intended audience of his speech was party supporters, Micallef, usually a suave performer in public, lowered his guard and did not mince his words this time.
"We will be a government for all Maltese and Gozitans, but here we are Labourites among Labourites (‘qeghdin bejnietna’). I tell you we will also be a government for Labourites and we will carry out justice with Labourites in the first few months”.
The Nationalist Party somehow or another were alerted about the clip, and they made a Double Whopper out of it. The story was splashed with headline prominence on the front page of the PN weekly paper Il-Mument on Sunday.
The same morning, speaking on Radio 101, Nationalist Deputy Leader Tonio Borg referred to Micallef’s speech, claiming: “While giving the impression that the MLP will be everyone’s government, in reality it will be a government for hardcore Labourites.”
Unsurprisingly, Natalino Fenech gave a blow-by-blow account of Micallef’s unwitting speech the next day in The Times. “PN warns of ‘discrimination’ if MLP is elected”, screamed the headline on the back page.
However, the political damage had already been done and Micallef had to partially back-track on his original speech and in an interview with The Times last week, the Labour secretary-general explained: “What I told those present for the event is that we have the same political beliefs. Yes, it could have been misunderstood, but it doesn't help that my quote was taken out of context.
"I used the same tone I have always used – that we should have a government for all the Maltese, based on meritocracy. There is nothing wrong to say that we won't exclude the Labourites this time around."
Nothing wrong, no. And nothing clever, either…

PN secretary-general Joe “Sarko” Saliba also landed in hot water this week as the Opposition media revealed that he was on two-week holiday with Zaren Vassallo, a prominent building contractor who was also PN mayor of Mosta.
Saliba was hosted on board “Princess Charlene”, a luxurious 48-foot yacht named after the contractor’s daughter.
Saliba and Vassallo left the Ta’ Xbiex yacht marina on Thursday 16 August, early in the afternoon. After leaving Malta, Saliba and Vassallo spent a weekend in the port of Syracuse. Four days later, they left the Sicilian harbour, and cruised towards the Italian mainland’s west coast.
The revelation by the Opposition media was made in true “striptease” fashion, with scant details emerging on three successive days on ONE News and till the name of the contractor was finally revealed last Saturday on the website.
The icing on the cake came on Monday, when ONE News showed the yacht’s arrival the previous date.
We get a blow-by-blow account of the skipper of the “Princess Charlene” first trying to berth opposite the European Commission Representation’s offices in Ta’ Xbiex, only to leave when the occupants saw that Charlon Gouder was waiting for Saliba at the landing berth.
The yacht attempted to land next to the “Black Pearl” restaurant, but the One News crew had already arrived there before, therefore they had no option except to return to the original berthing place.
The One News crew waited for an hour until an enraged Saliba emerged from the yacht.
- “May I ask you a question, Mr Saliba?” an unperturbed Gouder asked him.
- “You should be ashamed of yourselves for not allowing my family to have a holiday,” he retorted. Surely, that was NOT what Gouder and most of the Maltese people had in mind.
If looks could kill, this would have been a massacre.
Is this yet another “faux fax” by the Nationalist Party in the face of a series of corruption scandals across various government departments and entities throughout the year?
Although Saliba’s lawyer, Joe Zammit Maempel, told ONE News last Saturday evening that the holiday was “not a scandalous matter”, it is being interpreted as tantamount to political insensitivity.

The net result of all this Midsummer bickering? Four libel suits – two by Jason Micallef against the PN and the Nationalist media about the “You Tube” clip and another two by Joe Saliba against the MLP and the Labour media about the yacht trip…

Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click here



NEWS | Sunday, 02 September 2007

One migrant dead, three still missing off Sicilian coast

Nature Trust appeals against Danish Village bungalows

Gatt unveils 20 projects for Grand Harbour facelift

Throw away the remote – PBS is sure to keep us watching

Pharmacists warn against ‘demotion’ of medicines watchdog

Property proposals: pretty vacant?

Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email