“What will her salary be?” a journalist asked Owen Bonnici about Norma Saliba’s new role as head of the Centre for the Maltese Language.
“The contract between Norma and the Centre for the Maltese Language is a contract that stuck to administrative rules. If you send me your question in writing, I will be able to give you the details, to be precise, about the sum involved. But it is a normal salary for such roles”.
That was 16 August 2023, and Owen Bonnici faced the nation’s wrath for his shamelessness.
Just three weeks later, on 5 September 2023, the very same Bonnici stated on camera: “First of all, Mrs Saliba is an employee of Public Broadcasting Services Ltd, and I made her an offer to serve as the first executive officer of the Centre for the Maltese Language. So she will be lent from PBS to serve her role at the Centre for the Maltese Language”.
So there’s no contract between Saliba and the Centre for Maltese Language after all?
Was Bonnici deceiving the nation when he told journalists he would tell them the exact sum of Saliba’s salary set out in her contract with the Centre for the Maltese Language because both statements cannot be correct?
Either Saliba has a new contract with the Centre for the Maltese Language, or she’s still employed with PBS. Either he was lying on 16 August, or he was lying on 5 September. Alternatively, he does not have a clue.
The likeliest explanation, of course, is that Saliba is calling the shots. She wouldn’t accept conditions and remuneration inferior to what she had at PBS. So she’s putting her foot down and demanding she retain all her perks, allowances, and remuneration at PBS. And Bonnici is having to do somersaults to keep her happy.
The whole thing’s an utter disaster. On 25 July, Saliba uploaded a Facebook post informing her followers that she had resigned from her PBS role.
She wrote, “I have decided not to remain Head of News for personal reasons even if I had more to contribute… I took the decision with serenity, and I thank all those who worked with me. I look forward to new opportunities”. That’s crystal clear.
Saliba had resigned. She was gone, so much so that she felt entitled to make damning accusations about shady characters at PBS: “In the last weeks, I ended up the victim of a malicious campaign with the only objective of character assassination”.
The Shift, Times of Malta, the Malta Independent, Maltatoday, Newsbook and other media outlets all reported that Saliba had “resigned” or “stepped down”.
News even circulated of a strongly worded letter of resignation by Saliba. That letter of resignation was so incendiary that it was kept secret. The Shift requested a copy of Norma Saliba’s resignation letter.
PBS refused to provide it. So, The Shift filed a Freedom of Information request. PBS rejected the FOI request. PBS didn’t state that the document does not exist. Quite the contrary – PBS confirmed the document exists but could not release it because of “commercial sensitivity”.
PBS confirmed Saliba had resigned, contradicting the minister, who claims she’s still “an employee of Public Broadcasting Services Ltd”.
Bonnici had originally stated her new contract with the Centre would pay her “a normal salary for such roles”. Bonnici even promised he’d give the exact sum to journalists.
Well, whatever that sum was, it wasn’t enough for Norma. She won’t budge over her income and perks. She wants it all. So what’s happened?
Which Owen Bonnici is telling the truth? August Owen or September Owen? Has Norma changed her mind, withdrawn her resignation and kept her PBS perks?
PBS is bankrupt. The last auditors’ report concluded that they (RSM) “could not guarantee the company will continue as a going concern”. The government had to pump €30 million of taxpayers’ money to keep the company afloat.
RSM auditors concluded that “the company’s liabilities exceed its assets by €5.9 million”.
PBS is riddled with debt. It only survives thanks to Labour’s generosity with our money. Labour sustains PBS as its mouthpiece, censoring unfavourable news and promoting Labour’s propaganda.
But despite the dire financial situation PBS is in, it will continue to pump tens of thousands of euros into Saliba’s personal account even though she won’t contribute one minute of service to the company.
Where is the sense in that? Why should the taxpayer fund a bankrupt organ of Labour propaganda to pay Labour stalwart Saliba tens of thousands of euros for nothing? She won’t contribute a penny’s worth of work for PBS. So why should we be paying her?
Which irresponsible official at PBS approved her secondment to the Centre for the Maltese Language?
Bonnici is the master of shambles who stumbles from one fiasco to the next. From messing up the education sector to breaching fundamental human rights, the National Orchestra debacle, his embarrassing defence of Jason Micallef at Leeuwarden, the Vilhena Palace restaurant scandal, to the normalisation of Saliba’s obscene greed.
Minister Bonnici publicly humiliates himself to placate Saliba. First, he claimed she’s got a contract with the Centre for the Maltese Language that complies with administrative rules, and he’ll tell how much he’s paying her if asked in writing.
Then he changed his mind. There is no contract. And he’s not paying her. In fact, she didn’t really resign at all. She’s still with PBS. PBS is just lending her to the Centre for the Maltese Language and accumulating more debts, which we will pay to keep Saliba happy and silent.
How much longer will Robert Abela let this clown embarrass the nation? Or is Owen Bonnici doing Abela’s bidding?