[WATCH] Chris Fearne on Dissett: ‘I’d be a serious and disciplined prime minister’

The deputy prime minister on TVM’s Dissett: ‘I will clean up and strengthen our institutions’

Deputy prime minister Chris Fearne on Dissett
Deputy prime minister Chris Fearne on Dissett

The man who wants to be prime minister says he will be “sincere, serious and disciplined”, and that he plans a “clean-up and to build on the good Malta offers.”

Deputy prime minister Chris Fearne, who says he has the backing of most of Labour MPs, said on TVM’s Dissett that Malta was “not in a normal situation” as things stand.

“The PN cannot solve this problem. I want to make things normal again,” Fearne said.

Fearne will be running for the Labour leadership against Labour MP Robert Abela.

“Malta’s institutions need more resources for them to work independently and effectively - the police, the FIAU, the National Audit Office… I’d like to see the Commissioner of Police having the support of the nation, not perceived to be. He should have the support of two-thirds of the Maltese parliament,” Fearne said in one of his first pledges. He said current police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar would have to be subject to the same parliamentary approval.

In another interview to Lovin Malta, Fearne confirmed that his Cabinet will not include any of the people who have so far been implicated in the Caruana Galizia assassination probe. Fearne suggested that “Konrad Mizzi had no ambition” in being reinstated minister, but did not comment on Chris Cardona’s future in his Cabinet if elected leader. 

Fearne said he himself asked the NAO to investigate the Vitals Global Healthcare privatisation contract. “The investigation is not ready three years since. That is why I will give the NAO more resources.”

Fearne said that as PM he wants to bring about renewed unity in the country, by opening dialogue with the Opposition and civil society, “for a plan to solve the problems we have, within my first 100 days.”

A paediatric surgeon by profession, a medical reference did not go amiss. “Malta is wounded… it needs the right surgical intervention. If something need to be removed, we should operate.”

“We have heard allegations of people,” Fearne said in a veiled reference to the former chief of staff Keith Schembri, “who abused of their position… we cannot see our country in the stagnation it is experiencing today.”

He said he wants to effect the necessary reforms that enjoy national consensus, and restore Malta’s reputation among the international institutions. He also said he wants to maintain economic pace, while safeguarding the environment. “Under my leadership, the environment will be a priority in this legislature and forthcoming legislatures,” Fearne said.

Fearne said he expected outgoing PM Joseph Muscat to give his successor the space he needs to lead the government. “Muscat created one of the best European economies and increased people’s quality of life. We now need to strengthen institutions, the environment and good governance.”

The minister also said that while Labour should work with business, it must not be led by business. “The model to work with them to create wealth, has worked.”

He referred to MaltaToday’s trust barometer, saying it was clear that he was well trusted against the PN’s Adrian Delia. “I have wide appeal among Labourites and other voters. It means our movement can grow.”

Fearne defended a previous interview he gave to Deutsche Welle, in which he stood by the people implicated in the Panama Papers. “We did not know of the allegations we are hearing today,” he said, referring to the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination probe. “The situation has changed completely now, with the prime minister resigning in the middle of the legislature. We have problems that must be addressed now. Many Labourites are hurt by what has happened.”

In his interview to Lovin Malta, Fearne said that under his administration the rule of law would be followed to the letter.

Fearne agreed that Labour would have been better off had Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri resigned three years ago, stating that the situation would have been very different now.  “We would have avoided a lot of the troubles we have now,” he said.

Fearne said that he would ensure that justice goes its course, and stated that under his leadership, nobody would be above the law.

Fearne said constitutional reform would also see a revision of party financing laws.

When asked whether he would put a stop to the removal of flowers and candles form the Daphne Caruana Galizia vigil, Fearne stated that his job will be of “healings wounds and not perpetuating them”.

He also didn’t exclude building monument for Daphne Caruana Galizia if it is “the will of the people”.

On the Egrant inquiry, Fearne said that the government has always remained committed to publishing the report, and will do so when given the green light by the Attorney General.

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