Labour Party figures are turning up the heat against Malta’s Standards Commissioner George Hyzler, seemingly in response to a number of damning reports against the conduct of various Cabinet members.
It all kicked off with government whip Glenn Bedingfield yesterday lashing out against Hyzler during a parliamentary adjournment speech, admonishing for him highlighting issues within the Labour Party without addressing his own.
Bedingfield said that while Hyzler has been critical of the government’s regular employment of people in positions of trust, he had actually employed six staff members on similar contracts. He also said that while Hyzler has criticised delayed responses to parliamentary questions, he has failed to answer questions in an adequate time frame himself.
“Let’s start with the obvious, where standards are supposed to be held but they are not. There are political motives behind [the reports],” Bedingfield said.
He also zeroed in on Hyzler’s recent reports concerning government advertising, claiming that the Standards Commissioner hid behind confidentiality when he was asked similar questions while serving as Health Minister from 1992 to 1996.
Bedingfield went one step further, insisting that Hyzler, who was part of a PN-led Cabinets from 1987 to 1996, was strategically working to harm the government.
The whip’s comments were quickly picked up by a number of PL sympathisers, with Robert Musumeci and Emmanuel Cuschieri sharing posts in support of Bedingfield.
“I am publicly calling for the immediate resignation of George Hyzler. It was a mistake appointing this person to an important position in the country,” Cuschieri said.
Meanwhile, Musumeci was more nuanced. But in a series of Facebook posts purporting to defend the Commissioner, Musumeci used Bedingfield’s post to deflect from the criticism that Hyzler levelled at Minister Carmelo Abela for misusing public funds on self-promotion.
Musumeci insisted that the concepts of “good faith” must be extended to the Standards Commissioner as much as it is to Cabinet members, so unless bad faith can be attributed to either Hyzler or Abela, their actions are both acceptable.
Their statements are already having ramifications on the office that was set up during the Labour Party administration, with people online already calling for a confidence vote in Hyzler, who was actually appointed by the current government.
Hyzler has been busy since taking over the role, leading crucial investigations into the Facebook spending of Cabinet members, government advertising, the positions of trust system, access to information, and an incident involving the lock-up of journalists in Castille.
It has resulted in serious changes with the government’s switch to ministerial Facebook pages the most noticeable among them.
Bedingfield himself has already had a tense relationship with Hyzler. He previously walked out on a committee meeting to discuss the publication of a report into Minister Abela’s advertising, which Hyzler said was a breach of ethics.
What do you think of Hyzler’s work?