Alex Agius Saliba keeps putting his foot in it again and again. To praise Robert Abela’s price reduction scheme, he uploaded a photo of himself picking fabric conditioner– one of thousands of products that won’t see any price reduction.
It will probably be one of thousands of products that will continue to rise in price to compensate importers for the reduction in profits by keeping 400 products at a stable price. Agius Saliba could have picked any of those 400 products, but obviously, he hadn’t bothered to find out what Abela’s scheme was about.
He tore into Roberta Metsola for calling the government hard-headed over its failure to reach a collective agreement at the University for two years and triggering industrial action by UHM. But Agius Saliba thinks that the dispute is with MUT. This man can’t even get the basics right.
In an outburst of fake outrage, he alleged that Roberta Metsola engaged in “rampant abuse of funds”. He accused her of being “above the rules”. He falsely claimed that Metsola had pushed for a newspaper article reporting her comments to be published in LovinMalta, funded by the EU.
Metsola had condemned the government’s failure to reach a collective agreement resulting in industrial action. Of course, Metsola had nothing to do with the decision to publish that article. Agius Saliba’s accusations were entirely fabricated.
LovinMalta demolished Agius Saliba’s accusations. They pointed out that neither the European Parliament nor anybody from Roberta Metsola’s team had any say in publishing that article.
That article was published as part of the Ewropej 2024 project funded by the EU and the European Parliament. The funds go to media houses to help generate broad public debate as European parliamentary elections approach, with full respect for the editorial independence of the participants.
Neither the EU nor the European parliament have a say on what the newspapers report on or their approach – far less EP president Roberta Metsola.
Each article published as part of the Ewropej 2024 project has a large banner, making it clear that the EU provided funding. It clearly states, “The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information and opinions expressed. By applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers, or programme broadcasters are solely responsible”.
Agius Saliba didn’t read the blurb. He was too busy filming himself in a noisy European parliament lobby, ranting loudly to try and make himself heard above the background noise.
The European Parliament communications office pulled the rug from under his feet. “The EP does not influence or interfere in the editorial line of grant holders”. Besides, they commented, the project “feature(s) articles from all sides of the political spectrum”.
Agius Saliba protested that the EU-funded project is solely intended to raise awareness about the legislative work done by MEPs. He insisted that LovinMalta and Maltatoday are funded to publish content related only to MEPs’ work at the European Parliament.
LovinMalta pointed out to the hysterical MEP that they have the editorial freedom to report on both European and domestic issues in which MEPs are involved. They insisted they had both extensively reported Agius Saliba’s accusations that food importers were a profiteering cartel.
Agius Saliba is an MEP. He must know that Metsola had nothing to do with LovinMalta’s article. She certainly didn’t abuse funds. He must have known that, too. But Agius Saliba is only interested in petty point scoring and a few likes from his select audience.
He inadvertently revealed the real motivation for his false claims: “I am going to ensure that disbursement of European funds is scrutinised with the same intensity that the PN expects for local public funds”.
It’s not the pursuit of good governance that drives Agius Saliba, but small-minded partisan pettiness. It’s his spitefulness that motivates his pathetic crusade. If you scrutinise us, we’ll scrutinise you, is his avowed schoolyard strategy.
“The PN and Metsola are constantly harping about accountability, transparency and good use of local and European funds. We see a lot of pressure by the PN over information campaigns by ministers, a number of cases where Arnold Cassola asks for one investigation after another on these issues”, Agius Saliba moaned.
So Agius Saliba retaliated, requesting a European parliament investigation into funds allocated to Maltatoday and LovinMalta as part of the Ewropej 2024 project. So, does that make him a traitor? Does it make him an enemy of the country for trying to strip local media companies of European funds?
Wasn’t it Agius Saliba who, in 2019, declared that “the people punish those who use the office of MEP to attack Malta in the EU”? By his own argument, the people should punish him in the upcoming European elections.
Labour’s party station, ONE, reported that Agius Saliba “noted that the PN and other critics readily criticise irregularities in spending of public funds by Labour government ministers but remained silent over European funds spent to bolster Metsola’s election campaign”.
ONE admitted that Labour ministers abuse public funds. Agius Saliba is annoyed that the PN and “other critics” pick on Labour ministers because they abuse public funds for their political promotion and he’s now trying to retaliate by tarnishing Metsola’s reputation with made-up charges.
Regarding his bravado and how he reported Metsola to the European Parliament’s vice president for communications, Agius Saliba pompously announced: “I chose not to remain silent”.
Agius Saliba never read Mark Twain, who warned, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”.