There has to be something really wrong and nefarious when the government goes to the lengths it is going to hide its dealings with Saviour Balzan and his companies.
The Shift News asked for a list of all contracts and payments between companies owned by Balzan and governmental bodies. 40 FOI (freedom of information) requests made by The Shift News were all turned down.
Public interest necessitates transparency in relations between independent media and government, especially in a troubling media landscape dominated by state and political party ownership.
The Data Protection Commissioner ruled in favour of The Shift News in each case. Each of the government entities subsequently lodged identical appeals against the Data Protection Commissioner’s decisions. But as The Shift has won each case, each entity resorted to court for a second appeal, armed with a bevy of lawyers at the taxpayer’s expense.
Given the manifest lack of transparency in the relationship between Balzan, a media house owner, and the government, I find it hard to understand why Keith Schembri’s 1a.m. buddy and government propogandist Saviour Balzan has taken Malta’s dismal rating on the RSF World Press Freedom Index (Malta’s rating this year is the worst it has ever been.) so very, badly. So badly so that he felt that he needed to write a piece on the issue in both his news outlets, Malta Today and Illum.
That’s rich coming from someone who earned tons of money since 2013 from the very same government he is supposed to hold to account.
That’s rich coming from someone whose business with the government the government is trying so hard to keep hidden (it also begs the question – why is it so critical for the government to keep its dealings with Balzan under wraps?).
That’s rich coming from someone who is always zealous and goes to great lengths to push the government’s narrative.
That’s rich coming from someone who attacks anyone who dissents with the government (just see how he viciously attacked Rule of Law NGO Repubblika for unknowingly accepting a donation from someone who bought Maltese citizenship).
That’s rich coming from someone who had such a close relationship with defrocked Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri that he would call him at 1a.m the night slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia broke the Egrant story -.and was prepared to testify that he did not.
Saviour Balzan is one of the reasons that Malta earned its worst ever ranking on the World Press Freedom Index this year.
Best in the world, just worse than Congo and Montenegro.