Politicians shouldn't decide pardons on matters that may implicate them
Joseph Muscat is introduced as Alfred Sant
Labour leader Joseph Muscat was twice mistakenly referred to as Alfred Sant today.
The first lapsus was by TV journalist Brian Hansford when he put a question to Dr Muscat at a press conference in Paola in the morning.
The second was by Simone Cini when Dr Muscat was introduced at an interview in Iklin - see video. (Not that this was the first time, timesofmalta admits to having made this mistake too)
The labour leader laughed off the incidents and quickly got down to the business at hand.
He said that he did not have the facts at hand to decide whether a presidential pardon was warranted in the oil procurement scandal. But, he said, it was problematic to have politicians deciding on who got a pardon to turn state evidence in cases where the whistleblower could implicate politicians.
"All I know about this case is what has been reported in the media but this is why we need a Whistleblower Act," Dr Muscat said while being interviewed in Iklin by TV co-hosts Simone Cini and Robert Musumeci.
A businessman who was interrogated by the police on the oil scandal has asked for a presidential pardon. The prime minister last week said he may consider a pardon if it leads to more information on the alleged scandal.
Dr Muscat again pledged that a Labour government would hit the ground running by moving three important laws: a Whistleblower Act, the removal of time-bar on corruption cases involving politicians and a law regulating political party financing.
In what was a veiled attempt at soothing the furore caused by former deputy leader Anglu Farrugia's barb that Muscat's Labour had departed from its core values, the Labour leader took time to thank those who militated in the Labour Party for many years.
"It is easy for these people to scoff when seeing new people joining the party but they understood the message and they have been part of the team effort to create a movement," he said.
On the party's proposal to split Mepa's environment and planning functions, Dr Muscat said he could not understand the Prime Minister's criticism. This morning Dr Gonzi described the proposal as a return to the notoriety of the Lorry Sant years when building permits were issued at a minister's whim.
Environment groups had long been calling for this separation and the Church's environment commission this evening came out in favour of the proposal, Dr Muscat added. "Will Dr Gonzi now say the Church has an interest to please contractors?"
Touching on his party's proposals for the health sector, Dr Muscat said the St Philip's hospital deal proposed by the current administration was different from Labour's pledge to pay for services rendered in the private sector.
He said the present government wanted to rent out St Philip's and increase its capacity. "We will give patients a maximum waiting time and if this is missed the Government will pay for the treatment in the private sector," he explained.
Dr Muscat criticised the PN proposal to partly-refund patients who bought medicines because they were out of stock at the Government dispensary. "Patients will only get a partial refund - the price the government would have paid," Dr Muscat said. Through this system the government would have no incentive to ensure free medicines were not out of stock, he added.
Dr Muscat said Labour would unveil its Gozo plan tomorrow and approve its electoral programme on Wednesday.