News | Sunday, 07 December 2008

Borg Olivier advised not to hold press conference

Nationalist Party Secretary General Paul Borg Olivier was advised by top senior party officials to avoid calling a press conference to reply to Joseph Muscat’s press conference held last Thursday. Yet Borg Olivier went ahead with the press conference. His conference was relegated to the sixth news item on the PN’s TV 7.45pm news bulletin.
The new secretary general had erroneously emailed a confidential memo to PL secretary general Jason Micallef instead of Parliamentary Secretart Jason Azzopardi as revealed by this newspaper.
MaltaToday can confirm that on realising that he had sent the email Borg Olivier phoned Jason Micallef over eight times and even sent him an sms to phone him back. The next day Micallef finally got back to Borg Olivier. Borg Olivier pleaded with Micallef to ‘spare him this trouble’, saying that he would be grateful.
The damning email refers to a meeting of public officials at the PN HQ and a request for data on the individuals who make complaints to ministerial officials. The transfer of personal data without consent is a criminal offence.

Timeline of a blunder 33

10 November At 2:56pm, Paul Borg Olivier sends email to all ministers and parliamentary secretaries, except Jason Azzopardi, whom he mistakes with Jason Micallef.
In the evening, Labour leader Joseph Muscat lashes out at government about the MITTS passwords theft in his parliamentary reply to the budget speech. He adds: “How can the citizens of Malta and Gozo rest assured about the protection of their personal data when government is not even capable of guarding the data of 20,000 people on its system?”

11 November At 12:11pm, the prime minister’s head of secretariat replies to Borg Olivier’s email, warning ministers not to breach the data protection act and that any data sharing could only happen with the individual’s written consent. Jason Micallef no longer features among the recipients.
At 8:22pm, Borg Olivier replies: “Edgar, Thanks for your email and clarification. I agree hundred per cent with the position you explained and confirm that it had always been our idea.”

16 November MaltaToday breaks out the story of Borg Olivier’s email and Galea Curmi’s reply.

17 November Labour leader Joseph Muscat demands explanations from the prime minister about personal information passed from government to the PN, in what he calls “a web of espionage”. Asked by The Times to publish Borg Olivier’s email, Lawrence Gonzi refuses.

19 November Nationalist Party officials defend information sharing between government and party on MaltaToday Midweek.

30 November MaltaToday reveals for the first time Borg Olivier’s blunder of having sent the email to Jason Micallef instead of Jason Azzopardi.

4 December Joseph Muscat calls a press conference to distribute Borg Olivier’s email sent to Micallef. Borg Olivier defends himself insisting he never asked for personal information to be forwarded to the party.


The email
The e-mail was sent at 2:56pm on 10 November by Borg Olivier to the Prime Minister and all the cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries and copied to PN Deputy Secretary General Jean-Pierre Debono, OPM Communications Director Gordon Pisani, OPM Head of Secretariat Edgar Galea-Curmi, OPM customer care chief Charmaine Gerada, and PN Information Director Frank Psaila.
It was also inadvertently sent to Labour Secretary General Jason Micallef instead of Parliamentary Secretary Jason Azzopardi.
The email has been translated from the Maltese.

Subject: RESENT – Meeting with Customer Care Officials – Data Sharing
“Today, at Dar Ċentrali (PN headquarters), we had the first meeting between the Party and the Customer Care officials from ministries and parliamentary secretariats in the presence of Charmaine Gerada and Alfred Mangion from the office of the prime minister.
“The meeting, which was attended by the Head Customer Care in each secretariat, was a positive one and a good beginning was made.
“On behalf of the party attended the Secretary-General, the Assistant Secretary-General, and Margaret Mercieca [the customer care official at the Nationalist Party].
“Also present were Ivan Falzon [MIMCOL Chairman], Charles Demicoli [Kordin Grain Terminal Chairman] and Karol Aquilina [PN Siggiewi Deputy mayor and member of the PN’s National Executive], who were involved in the process before the general elections.
“The meeting had the aim of looking at the Customer Care work and how this can be integrated better, particularly so as together we can create a strong web of communication of collective synergy so that together we can be more effective our work with all those who approach the Party and the Ministers/Parliamentary Secretariats.
“Our aim to go for the integration of the respective work in the Customer Care department is to make the process before the general elections a process spread during the whole legislature. This can only take place if everybody takes ownership of this strategy.
“This ownership of this project and the collective commitment are also aimed at alleviating a lot from the burden that is saddled (mostly uselessly) on the Prime Minister.
“At present we are going through the process of integrating the customer care work, which could offer:
1. better management of complaints/requests;
2. an improvement in the bureaucracy that saddles a lot of the process which could also collectively identify “pockets of weekness” [sic];
3. a wide view of the origin of the complaints/requests as well as an indication of trends (and therefore also offers means of how we should respond);
4. a strong audit trail in the process
5. a maximisation of resources.
“Therefore, as part of the first process to integrate the data at the same level accessible at the Office of the Prime Minister, every official in the Customer Care is being requested to forward all the data on a template which will be provided by Charmaine Gerada.
“This data (exel) [sic] should include (1) personal data on the requests that were made to the Customer Care of the Ministry/Parliamentary Secretariat in the past eight months, (2) kind of request, (3) action taken and (4) result (pending).
“I kindly ask you to stimulate your respective Customer Care Department so that this process starts without any hindrance, in the collective interest, and so that this burden does not fall mostly on the Prime Minister.


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