A Propos Electoral Reform, Unhappiness & Nomination of Mauritian Nationals to International Bodies
A Propos the Electoral Reform: Time to Think out of the Box
To say the Ministerial Committee recommendation on electoral reform is nonsense is like awarding a Grade-1 certificate to the school dunce. Following in the footsteps of its lazy predecessors, the Committee has just taken the same aberration that is represented by the 1-man-3-votes regime and added another 19 MPs, without any justification for this massive increase.
Instead of increasing the numbers, we should rather be thinking of reducing them (and costs!). Forty 1-member constituencies with 1-man-1-vote would probably be adequate, with 10 optionals to ensure ethnic representativity. Also, Party leaders should relinquish the choice of candidates — which results in some incompetent MPs/Ministers (just look at the current bunch!) — to the local constituencies. This is the modus operandi throughout all advanced Democracies. It’s time to think out of the box.
PR is not the panacea some people think it is; if in any doubt just think Italy. The problem does not lie so much with the FPTP system, but rather the 1-man-3-votes which corrupts it because of the Pavlovian reaction of the electorate to vote “block.” The 1-man-1-vote with every member accountable to his local constituency and his constituents would go a long way to remedy this. Self-proclaimed pundits’ opinions notwithstanding!
Regarding election or nomination of Mauritian nationals to international bodies
As Mauritians, we are indeed proud to see a fellow citizen in prestigious committees of international bodies with all the exposure such positions entail.
It seems to have been the trend down the years in Mauritius for any Government in power to endorse the candidatures of sitting judges in international bodies, panels, committees, etc. We remember very well the polemical episode two years ago when a retired Chief Justice lashed out at a Minister and brought a case to Court for not having been nominated for a third time running by the present Government and for Government to have ‘dared’ propose the candidature of a sitting Senior Puisne Judge.
Whilst one cannot doubt the capacity and intellectual sharpness of our judges, one can ask legitimate questions about this practice. Doesn’t this embarrass nominees vis-a-vis a Government that puts forward their candidature?
A reply to a recent PQ by a majority MP showed how many cases keep going on for so many years. Would it then not be more appropriate to name or propose the candidature of former/retired judges or barristers/solicitors from outside the judiciary?
Besides the nomination/endorsement of senior members of our judiciary, Mauritius often seeks to appoint or endorse other Mauritian candidatures to international institutions. Our relatively small country also seeks to be elected in other bodies on a regular basis. Given our size and weight on the international stage, is it wise to compete on so many fronts every year? Is there a real strategy for Mauritius regarding election or appointment on international bodies?
It would appear so far that there are no real benefits to Mauritius whenever we are represented in these international bodies, committees and fora, besides probably some prestige, regular travels overseas, etc.
Musings of the Muse
On the groundless causes of unhappiness
Maupassant, through the portrayal of his protagonist of the sinister short story, “The Necklace”, embarks on an allegory of human nature. Matilda is married to Mrloisel. The latter does not ill-treat her. There is even a maid for the household chores. Yet the woman is far from being contented. In fact she is sheerly miserable because she dreams of things which are beyond her husband’s means. In so doing, she fails to appreciate the worth of a man whose goodness does not grow on trees. To cut a long story short, Matilda comes to the stark realisation that what she had previously looked upon as a miserable existence, was not one of ill comfort. The same she would now be made to endure after the loss of the borrowed necklace and for which she spent ten long, arduous, endless years so as to finally pay off the loan.
Like Matilda, many of us are unhappy. However the causes of unhappiness are not always or rather not often justified. Perhaps it has all to do with human foibles, which are at the very centre of our existence. Human nature is conceived in such a manner that man is never satisfied with what he has. The worst part is that he fails to appreciate its worth and not only takes it for granted, but spurns it as well. Then, when that bonus is no longer available, he laments and wishes he were given a second chance. Unfortunately it is belated and there is no turning back the clock. Little does man realise that happiness comes from acceptance. Being contented with what one has is a huge step towards attaining and securing that much sought happiness.
Our unhappiness also stems from the fact that instead of capitalising on our assets, we dwell on our liabilities and we moan. We may be grateful for what we have but this is as long as we have not compared with our neighbour who has bigger-better-and more beautiful. Therefore, it is imperative to shed our negative feelings, such as envy, jealous malice and resentment. As long as we harbour them, we can never be happy. When we are contented with what we have, our fate will surely take care of the rest and ensure our happiness Let it sink in our mind that we must stop hankering for the inaccessible and every single day which rises is a bonus in itself. No matter how bad we may erroneously or justly think it to be, it may well become worse before taking a turn for the worst. If we believe that our unhappiness is due to the fact others are better off than we, then can’t we reverse the situation and compare with the ones less endowed and thus the happiness is attained.
It is true that many are born with a silver spoon and as a result are (though not necessarily) happy. Above all things, happiness must be worked for in order to be attained. It is a by-product, like sweat. One cannot sit, loiter, idle the time away and then be full of resentment towards those, who, by dint of hard work, have made it to the top, and lament that life is not fair. One might well, instead of fuming and burning in the fire of their own frustration, take the cue and emulate. Who knows, they might in the bargain, supersede the object of their emulation. Nothing is ever achieved by lamenting and wallowing in self-pity. On the contrary, we make ourselves pathetic and ludicrous figures of mockery.
We all at one point or the other of our life, must reckon with the vicissitudes of life, that is, the ups and downs. While the ups make us feel on top of the world, that is, we reach the zenith of happiness, the downs leave us utterly crestfallen and wretched. We must not lay down the arms though. Instead we must rise and fight. With stoicism by our side as a faithful road companion, we cannot but attain our due happiness. By contrast, unhappiness if not checked, may well develop in an incurable disease for which there may be not even palliatives.
* Published in print edition on 18 May 2018
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