That question is relevant to people everywhere. Because it is closely followed by an exploration of what our rights are
Ten years ago, the people in the nascent iGaming industry in Malta came from other countries and lived and worked in their Maltese bubble.
The industry has matured and is now part of our society.
The people who run it and work in it are ordinary and active citizens with a desire to live in a peaceful and just society.
Many of us may think of the government as the effort led by a Prime Minister and her or his cabinet in running the country.
But that’s bollocks.
And the last one to say so is a former Chief Justice of Malta.
The PM is the de facto head of the Executive branch.
The judges and magistrates run the Judiciary and the President of the Republic, who signs off on all acts of parliament is – among his many other constitutional roles – the head of the part called the Legislature.
Government is made up of all three and the relationship between them can be tense.
There is a fourth, unofficial, branch. It’s the Press. Without a free press the citizens of a country cannot hold their leaders to account. Journalists help us ensure that the acts, omissions, errors and misdeeds of the powerful are reported. That’s why it’s a big deal when a journalist is killed.
All of these issues are at play in Malta right now. And the discussion is not only for constitutional lawyers or watchers of the body politic.
Its important to all of us: in this industry as well as other ones too.
What is happening right now is that three judges are calling people up to testify in hearings of a public inquiry which essentially, needs to determine whether the murder of a journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, could have reasonably been avoided.
The Executive branch of the government established the inquiry and empanelled the inquiry board because it was under a lot of public and international pressure to do so following the murder.
The Judicial branch of the government is holding hearings and calling witnesses among whom the once powerful and mighty.
The Fourth Estate, the press, is reporting the proceedings in great detail and giving the inquiry great prominence.
A lot of what is emerging paints a picture of a close and cozy personal relationship between Mr. Yorgen Fenech, who has interests in both land-based and online gaming businesses based in Malta, and Mr. Keith Schembri a ranking member of the previous administration.
The Executive branch now wants to shut the inquiry down claiming that it has already been given ample time to make its assessment.
Days later however, when addressing the country on the occasion of Republic Day, the head of the Legislative branch of government sent a different message. President George Vella said that for the country now, the most important thing is to get to the bottom of the Daphne murder. There was nothing he said that reflected the Prime Minister’s desire to stop and move on.
Yesterday, the former head of the Judicial branch of government spoke. He, and Judge Michael Mallia who is chairing the inquiry referred their determinations directly to the PM: Any attempt by the Executive to invoke the lapse of a time limit on the work of the inquiry would be an ‘arbitrary and unilateral’ interference with the administration of justice and the pursuit of truth.
And then, in a bold and direct challenge, the chairman of the Inquiry and his fellow judge, the former Chief Justice, invited the Executive branch to cut off their remuneration if it wished stating it would have no effect and would leave them undeterred.
I don’t think I have ever seen such open parrying between the different branches of government. But this is what’s expected of an EU country and it made me quietly proud to see it happen in this one…
The author, Georg Sapiano, has been advising clients since the beginning of the online betting industry in Malta. His firm, AE Human Capital, has a wealth of online gaming clients from across the globe who seek his strategic insights and the excellence of his partners in law, accounting, and business advisory services.
About SiGMA’s revamped website:
SiGMA Group is excited to announce the launch of its newly revamped website. The website is currently available in 6 languages, English, Russian, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish with plans to add another 4 languages over the coming months – namely Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Hindi.