Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil will be meeting with the elusive Sai Mizzi Liang - Malta’s well remunerated special investment envoy to China and wife of Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi, while in China next week, according to sources speaking with this newsroom.
Asked to confirm the information yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella told this newsroom yesterday, “Ask the Opposition Leader, they scheduled the meeting not me”.
The Minister added that he learnt of the meeting and asked about the dates, adding, “We then did everything we could and extended the usual courtesies, however what they will discuss is up to them.”
Dr Busuttil has asked Foreign Affairs Ministry for a brief on Malta-China relations, including any recommendations on issues he thinks might be raised by the Chinese authorities, the opportunity to visit the Maltese Embassy and to hold discussions with the Maltese ambassador, as well as the opportunity to visit the Consulate General in Shanghai and to hold discussions with Malta’s Consul General, a position also filled by Mrs Mizzi Liang.
Dr Busuttil also requested from the ministry a document outlining points that should be raised with firms he might meet while on his trip, to help incentivise them to invest in Malta.
Clifford Borg Marks, the former Maltese Ambassador to China, had resigned a few weeks ago, due to “private and professional reasons and would like to go back to Hong Kong.”
Mr Clifford Borg Marks was appointed Maltese Ambassador to China on 11 October 2013 and had the same contract terms as investment envoy Ms Sai Mizzi. His replacement has not yet been announced.
Mrs Mizzi Liang’s government appointment and her €13,000 a month salary has been a constant bone of contention for the government – and it is a bone that the opposition will not let go of.
In Parliament on 15 June, Dr Busuttil had said that he was going to China to see “what Konrad Mizzi’s wife is doing”.
In the lead-up to the showdown, earlier this week Mrs Mizzi Liang made a rare appearance on the Department of Information’s press release list, when the department reported how she and Minister Chris Cardona this week hosted a collaboration meeting with the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce and the Shanghai Foreign Investment Board.
The Department of Information said in a statement that collaboration initiatives were discussed by the Maltese representatives with the Vice Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce Sang Qi and senior representatives of the Shanghai Foreign Investment Board.
"The two sides discussed the pipeline of investment opportunities currently being considered and developed," the DOI said in a statement.
Mrs Mizzi Liang will also act as the focal point for an initiative discussed at today's meeting: joint initiative between Malta and the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce aimed at facilitating further collaboration and investment from interested Shanghai based companies.