The government has once again chosen to act in the most partisan manner possible, this time at the University of Malta, where it has inserted Party apparatchiks and supporters on the boards of all the significant faculties in an apparent attempt to influence the institution’s direction.
Education Minister Clifton Grima has appointed party loyalists to every faculty board possible. These boards influence the University’s overall direction, including which courses to promote, entry requirements and the selection of lecturers.
This follows the appointment of individuals to the top management of the University who are openly pro-Labour, including the rector and pro-rectors.
The most glaring appointment is that of Ramona Attard, a former reporter for Labour’s TV station who then worked as a communications officer at the Office of the Prime Minister when disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat was at the helm.
She was renowned among journalists for actively blocking information to the point of refusing to allow independent journalists to ask questions during press conferences.
Attard is now President of the Labour Party in government, and she has been appointed to the Board of the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Science.
This is apart from her already benefitting from a raft of government appointments – most of them carrying hefty remuneration.
Faculty members described her appointment as “disgusting” and interpreted the move as yet another sign of the government’s attempts to control the media in Malta by shaping the minds of future journalists. Attard has never worked as a real journalist but only as a propagandist for the Labour Party.
The education minister’s partisan appointments cover all the University’s faculties.
Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace – the son of a former Labour justice minister and the beneficiary of a stream of government appointments, including the Planning Authority Appeals Board (EPRT) – is now the government’s representative on the Faculty for Social Wellbeing.
Prof Stephen Montefort, a staunch Labour Party supporter and a consultant to Prime Minister Robert Abela, is the government’s chosen representative on the Faculty of Medicine. He made a name for himself when, during COVID, he praised the prime minister for ignoring his scientific advice, saying Robert Abela knew best.
Montefort said while addressing a Labour Party rally at Qormi’s St George’s Square on 21 February: “Robert Abela stood firm and told me ‘No’, and time proved him right.”
Labour pollster Vincent Marmara was appointed to represent the government on the Faculty of Science, while former Labour candidate and Bank of Valletta chairman Reno Borg is on the board of the Faculty of Laws.
Aaron Grech, a pro-Labour economist with Marxist views and a government nominee on the Board of the Central Bank of Malta, represents the government at the Faculty of Economics, while former Labour candidate Duncan Mifsud and architect Colin Zammit represent the government at the Faculty for the Built Environment.
Even on the subject of theology, the government appointed Labour apologist and long-time Labour television host Reverend Colin Apap.
All these appointments come following Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s slashing of the University’s budget by €1.1 million in an attempt to control the country’s deficit and debt.