The National Council for the Maltese Language has filed a judicial protest against Arts and National Heritage Minister Owen Bonnici for publishing the rushed and backdated legislation setting up the Centre of the Maltese Language without consulting the Council “as obliged by law”.
The Centre was set up abruptly three weeks ago, with former PBS head of news Norma Saliba being installed as the executive head immediately after her resignation from PBS following a fallout with executive chairman Mark Sammut.
A press statement by the Council on Thursday said Bonnici did not “inform the Council formally, did not present at any time a draft law and did not consult the Council for its advice and opinion on the legal notice”.
“It was only after publishing the legal notice that the Council became aware, from media reports, that the minister had appointed Norma Saliba as the executive head,” the statement continued.
The Council maintained that Saliba’s appointment was made without a formal call for applications, without due selection process verifying Saliba’s qualifications and without consultation.”
The Council said the Centre’s setting up and Saliba’s appointment broke Article 24 of the law, obliging the minister to consult with the Council before doing so. “According to the Council, the procedure adopted by the minister in publishing the legal notice and appointing Norma Saliba was tainted and irregular given it broke the law.”
The Council said Bonnici contacted the Council informally, insisting he was not ready to revoke the legal notice and appointment. The Council concluded, “if the minister does not revoke this illegality in 10 days, the Council for the Maltese Language will proceed against him in court.”
The Shift has reported how the legal notice enabling the new Centre of the Maltese Language was created in such a rush that the legislation’s commencement notice had to be backdated.
Legal experts who reached out to The Shift said the legislation had been drafted so haphazardly that it had not even cited the correct article of the Cultural Heritage Act that empowers the minister to create the new regulations.