[WATCH] ‘No time for stubbornness,’ Chris Fearne says on why he embraces Opposition proposal for police chief chosen by two-thirds majority

Leadership hopeful Chris Fearne says it will be his job to win back the trust of people who supported the Labour Party and who feel betrayed by what emerged in recent weeks

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Chris Fearne has defended his proposal to have the police commissioner chosen by a two-thirds parliamentary majority, insisting now is not the time to be stubborn.

The Labour government had opposed such a proposal when it was first made by then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil in the previous legislature.

Fearne, who is now contesting the Labour Party leadership, has made the proposal his own and insists that the country needed unity to find solutions that addressed the deficiencies in the rule of law.

“We cannot be proud of ourselves and oppose something simply because we did so in the past… we have to find solutions to the problems,” Fearne said when asked about the u-turn.

He was interviewed by MaltaToday on his vision and plans for the country, if PL members choose him to become Malta’s next prime minister.

Fearne is running for the post against Labour MP Robert Abela.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the single biggest mistake the Labour parliamentary group did was not insisting enough for decisive action to be taken when the Panama Papers scandal broke in 2016.

“Looking back is always easy but I feel I should have been tougher in demanding that effective action be taken immediately back then,” Fearne admitted.

He said the situation was definitely not one of business as usual. “It can’t be business as usual when you have a prime minister with a strong mandate resigning. It is not business as usual.”

He was not surprised by the massive vote against Malta in the European Parliament, insisting that restoring Malta's reputation abroad will be a priorty for him. "But to do so we need tol implement changes," he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister promised a national conference on the rule of law within the first 100 days of his premiership in a bid to seek the widest consensus possible for the necessary changes to strengthen good governance.

However, the Labour leadership hopeful would not give a deadline for the changes he believes should happen. “100 days is three months [and time for changes to be introduced] but I don’t want to put a guillotine on any discussion,” he said.

Fearne insisted justice should be done and be seen to be done against all those involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Asked whether Keith Schembri should be investigated, Fearne said the police should investigate anybody they the need to investigate without looking at faces.

Fearne said it will be his job to restore the trust in the PL of those who voted for it for the first time and who feel betrayed by what happened over recent weeks.

Asked about the people who have protested against the government, Fearne said that the Labour government has a duty to be a government for all. “People have protested, I have heard those protests and now it is time to seek consensus and implement solutions so that what happened will not happen again.”

Fearne said that he felt the pain of the PL grassroots but urged them to pluck up courage. “The country is passing through a rough patch… we will get through this not by the passage of time but because we will implement change,” he said.

He insisted there was no election on the horizon and the government under his premiership will fulfill its mandate.