Andrew Azzopardi interviews MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando:
The Prime Minister said he was surprised at your decision to vote in favour of the motion on Richard Cachia Caruana. Don’t’ you think that ethically you should have discussed it with the Prime Minister or the Whip as there was no free vote on the motion?
JPO: What I said in Parliament about Richard Cachia Caruana – that is, his contempt for parliament and democratic norms over a stretch of years – is what I have been telling the Prime Minister and top PN officials for a long time.
The PN parliamentary group is regularly not consulted about issues that are very important, including the €500 a week salary increase of the Ministers. Had the Prime Minister or the Whip asked me how I was going to vote I would have told them. They did not even deign to ask me whether I was going to talk on the motion. The only person who asked me about my voting intentions was Richard Cachia Caruana himself, and he had no right to do so. It actually shows his contempt for parliament and democratic norms.
With an election round the corner and a turbulent situation in the PN don’t you think that your decision to vote for the motion was ‘bad timing’?
JPO: I had nothing to do with the timing of the motion. The parliamentary agenda is discussed in the ’House Business Committee’. It is clear that the Labour Party tabled its motion as it felt it could count on the support of MP Franco Debono after he made a number of strong declarations against Richard Cachia Caruana. It is important to point out that Cachia Caruana and Debono have been on very good term for many years and they fell out with each other for only a short time.
Can you reassure everybody that you had nothing personal against Richard Cachia Caruana?
JPO: My vote was not influenced by any personal motives.
You have broken the norm the way you have behaved in politics. Is that because you wanted to be different or to do politics in a different way?
JPO: I did what I felt was right as a Member of Parliament elected on the PN ticket. I have been taking stands against the government position where I felt that that was the right thing to do right from the beginning of my political career. My voters know that they were not voting for a yes man.
Do you agree with Franco Debono’s style of doing politics? What are his motives?
JPO: I do not agree with his style and I have told him so. I am not ready to judge other people’s motives.
Daphne Caruana Galizia has accused you of doing what you did to pave the way for the political career of your partner with the Labour Party. What do you have to say about this?
JPO: Mrs Caruana Galizia is known for inventing and embellishing facts to have a story against those whom she targets because they do not form part of a clique that she belongs to. A classic example of this is the frame-up against Sandro Chetcuti. There are a lot of other examples. I will say once again that my partner Carmen has no intention of contesting any election.
Will you be ready to work with the Labour Party if you are offered a role within it?
JPO: The only role I see myself in is within the PN.
Have you ever been asked to contest the election on the Labour ticket?
JPO: Yes, and I refused..
If the scenario changes to permit you to work in a party they way you want, do you think you will be ready to contest the election again?
JPO: I will be ready to work within the PN when it does not remain dominated by the clique of Richard Cachia Caruana, when it becomes again the party that truly represents authentic PN supporters.
According to Dr Beppe Fenech Adami the way PN MPs voted recently on Labour motions is unacceptable. What do you say to this?
JPO: Fenech Adami has a right to his opinion.
Dr Simon Busuttil has spoken about the party being a house divided – what led to this and how can this situation be resolved?
JPO: The division within the PN was brought about by those who have practiced the politics of ‘apartheid’ in the PN for the last years. When you have so many MPs and loyal activists hurt by this division it becomes clear that the problem is because of the way the party is being run.
The Prime Minister appointed you as chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology. Do you intend keeping this post?
JPO: Yes. I accepted to run the MCST in the way I know best and the results are there – thanks to the team I have at MCST.
You have spoken about Fr Joe Borg, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Richard Cachia Caruana and Dr Andrew Borg Cardona as if they are in a conspiracy against you – they deny this. Do you have any proof that you are right?
JPO: There is no plot against me personally. The persons you mentioned are part of a clique that is bent on purifying the PN from any elements who are not ready to simply obey and follow without any questions asked.
You have always been a protagonist in public life, what does the future hold for you?
JPO: I do not have the gift to read the future but I wish to find more time to enjoy my family.