Chris Fearne’s perennial hypocrisy

Chris Fearne was supposed to be the ‘clean one’. The one who ran for the Party leadership on a mandate of cleaning up the rot.

Anyone who has been paying attention knew this was always a false hope. The latest investigation by The Shift put the final nail in that coffin.

Handing a plum €163,000 per year public contract to his campaign manager, Carmen Ciantar, wouldn’t seem nearly as hypocritical if Fearne hadn’t played the ‘integrity’ card so hard when he ran for the Party leadership.

He announced his candidacy with a blunt shot at the disgraced soon-to-be-former prime minister, saying the damage that had been caused to the country’s reputation was “irreparable”.

He promised he would see every stain removed from Malta’s name, going so far as to propose a national conference to debate the rule of law. And he led the polls for most of the contest, strutting around with a relaxed arrogance that seemed like he’d already won in his mind.

Of course, he didn’t stand a chance. Joseph Muscat made that clear when he threw his weight behind Fearne’s rival Continuity Bob via a gentle word from his consort, the CEO of the Merry Gold Foundation.

But still, the sentiment lingers that, if only Fearne is given a chance, he’ll clean up Labour and put the country back on some sort of track that isn’t pointed directly at an abyss.

Know when he gave that plum contract to his campaign manager? July 2019, just five months before campaigning on a platform of integrity and clean government.

The only thing clean about him is how willing he was to clean out the public coffers to reward his own supporters.

Ciantar’s five-year contract sees her raking in €13,500 per month — second only to the parting gift handed to Kurt Farrugia, and we all have a pretty good idea of what he did to merit that.

Her initial €104,000 per year package had already made her one of the highest-paid employees on the public payroll even before the annual increases included in her new improved 2019 deal. That’s far more than what her minister boss earns, and double the salary of her predecessor.

To add insult to iniquity, the package given to this top official of the national health service includes a private health insurance package. How’s that for a vote of confidence?

The National Audit Office slammed the Foundation for Medical services she leads in its latest report, describing it as riddled with recruitment, employment and financial irregularities.

Dozens of ‘persons of trust’ hired on generous public salaries without any form of accountability? Who needs a paper trail when you have a good memory.

Promotions given to staff before they sat for interviews? Proactive management.

Some 90 FMS officials who have never worked at the Foundation but were instead deployed in other departments and entities? Generosity.

Now stop being so negative. Ciantar’s been able to run the whole thing while vanishing without a trace to manage Fearne’s personal electoral campaigns.

You’re getting your money’s worth, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I don’t know why so many bought into Fearne’s aura of ‘integrity’ given the way he’s handled the Vitals Global Healthcare deal. He’s always been fixated on diverting the blame while doing nothing to stop the robbery.

Fearne defended the charade over and over again, going so far as to call Steward Health Care “the real deal” after their €1 takeover.

He reiterated it again in January 2021 when he sat down for an interview with Lovin’ Malta. “Steward is a serious company,” he said. “They run about 40 hospitals in America, they run other hospitals outside of Malta. They are a serious company, I’ve visited their hospitals. I’m not unhappy to be working with Steward.”

He even denied there was anything wrong, saying, “To my knowledge, I have no evidence of any corruption or fraud. Had I had this evidence I would have passed it on immediately to the competent authorities.”

I suggest he take a look at that damning NAO report, or the documents Steward Health Care submitted in court to argue the deal was “fraudulent and corrupt“. But let’s get back to my main point, which is Fearne’s perennial hypocrisy.

Fearne’s public support of those running the concession has been repeatedly contradicted by his desperation not to be associated with it.

His true feelings burst out accidentally during an embarrassing grilling by journalist Tim Sebastian on DW’s Conflict Zone. You know, the one where he denied the stench of criminality emanating from his government by parroting the phrase, ‘Rule of law… rule of law…. Malta has the rule of law….’ over and over and over again.

“The shadow health minister said the deal stank of corruption,” Sebastian said. “Why did you sign such an enormous deal with a company that was totally untested in this field?

The question seemed to have caught Fearne off guard, perhaps because he couldn’t say ‘rule of law’ as a response.

“I didn’t sign the deal myself…” he blurted. “The government signed that deal” — as though ‘the government’ was someone else.

Fearne also told the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination that he was “not at all involved” in the takeover. No, it was all Konrad Mizzi.

As for Mizzi, he told the inquiry, “I always got the go-ahead from the prime minister. I consulted with him and information was given to Cabinet.”

Fearne was part of that Cabinet which now, so conveniently, claims to have known nothing. Let’s not forget the first position he held in government, as of the April 2014 reshuffle:  Parliamentary Secretary for Health under Minister for Energy and Health Konrad Mizzi.

I never understood why anyone placed their hopes on Fearne to get Malta out of this mess.

I guess it was desperation. Wishful thinking led to speculation that a clean sweep would come from inside Labour, spearheaded by someone who seemed more-or-less-honest.

In an interview with the Malta Independent during the lead up to the 2017 election, Fearne said that in every organisation there are those who are shady and those who are honest.

The man who gave out bags of oranges with his face on them during that campaign was giving your money to his supporters all along.

                           
                               
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Peter
Peter
4 days ago

Justyne Caruana resigned for giving 5k per month from taxpayers monies to her friend. Chris Fearne gave a 700k contract from taxpayers monies to his friend. Fearne should resign. Or does Abela hold double standards for his colleagues?

M.Galea
M.Galea
4 days ago
Reply to  Peter

Yes he should made to resign! Where is the opposition and repubblika?

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
4 days ago

Chris Fearne must have realised that fighting Labour with corruption doesn’t get you far. So he changed his slogan with ” Corruption pays,”

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
4 days ago

Would “an escape-proof indictment of hypocrisy” be the most suitable description of the above?

Victor Formosa
Victor Formosa
3 days ago

It is amazing. When you thought you heard it all, more corruption keeps coming out. PROSIT DR FEARNE. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU LABOUR GOVERNMENT. Not 1 decent person out of you lot. TAFU TISTHU???

Andrea Caruana
Andrea Caruana
3 days ago

Why do you think that Saint Thomas hospital ran by another ‘former ‘ labor MP got contracts for 1,5 million EUR is it an accident and a pure coincidence?

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