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Norma Saliba wades into her own controversy, slams new bosses at Maltese language council

Norma Saliba has waded into the controversy surrounding her appointment as head of a new Maltese language centre, questioning her bosses’ work for the language.

In a lengthy Facebook post on Friday evening, Saliba, took to task the National Council for the Maltese Language, which is challenging her appointment. The new centre Saliba heads responds to the council and is its operational arm.

She asked what chance was she given to prove her worth and went on to ask several pointed questions about the council’s work to preserve and strengthen the Maltese language.

“What projects does this council have for the preservation and promotion of the Maltese language? When are we going to have an adjourned dictionary? Should we have a spell-checker? Are they satisfied with the technological tools available for the Maltese language? Are there enough resources for the promotion and use of our native language? What vision does the council have for the coming years so that Maltese is not lost in light of the latest social and economic developments?”

Saliba also hit out at attempts to break her without people verifying the facts or at least working with her. “Has anyone bothered to check the qualifications and experience I have? Has anybody checked what payments other chief executives in other government entities are receiving?”

Saliba described herself as “professional, strict and a perfectionist” in her work, adding that she was not an “opportunist” and warned that such attacks only discourage people from taking up public roles of responsibility.

In a reply beneath her post, author Karl Schembri called on Saliba to stop playing the victim card and questioned why no public call was issued for the role she now occupies. He said Culture Minister Owen Bonnici created this new job for her so that the government could shift her out of PBS "as if this was a family business". 

Saliba was handpicked for the new post by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, who is being accused of setting up the new language centre and choosing Saliba without proper consultation. The matter is the subject of contrasting judicial protests.

The council is claiming the creation of the centre and Saliba’s appointment are illegal because the minister failed to consult it as dictated by law. However, in his counter reply, Bonnici said he consulted with the council’s president Olvin Vella through several WhatsApp messages and phone calls and before publishing the legal notice. The minister blamed Vella for failing to refer the matter to his members.

Maltese language expert Mark Amaira also filed a judicial protest challenging Saliba's appointment without a call for applications. 

Saliba was appointed to the new role on a €70,000 per year pay packet shortly after she resigned from head of news at the national broadcaster TVM, claiming she was the victim of character assassination. It is understood that Saliba fell out with the broadcaster’s chairperson Mark Sammut.

READ ALSO: Full trust in Olvin Vella, says language council over Saliba impasse