Certain matters have been hogging the headlines for too long. We have said it in the past that when issues are disposed of in good time, it reflects the good functioning of our institutions. At the level of the Executive, there appears to be no such hurry.
The PNQ of the Leader of the Opposition this week was centred on a scandal surrounding an international transaction of ‘bois de rose’ transiting through Port Louis.
Readers will recall that this concerns the unlawful cutting and export of a protected species of plants from Madagascar during the first half of last year. The interdicted material was seized around that time on board a ship in Port Louis harbour on its way to Hong Kong and China to which it was destined. Allegations have been made that a member of the then government would be having something to do with this illicit trade. This person might belong to the MSM party.
The purpose of the PNQ of this week was no doubt intended to bring out the point that there was no recording of conversation, as alleged, between the Malagasy wrongdoers and a Mauritian counterparty about the illegal consignment of wood in the hands of the Malagasy Bureau Independant AntiCorruption (BIANCO). The head of BIANCO has allegedly denied having any such recording. The Leader of the Opposition was trying to confound the government on this point. It is his job and we have nothing against that as well.
However, if you look at it from another angle, it was clear that he was keeping alive a subject that might represent an embarrassment to its current ally, the MSM, just in case it was established that one of theirs was implicated in the illicit trade. Time will tell whether this was not also a ploy to keep its ally subdued, just in case something was proved against one of the latter’s members in the light of information that would have surfaced up. This information could be culled up from the investigations being carried on by the local Police, notably the ADSU, and ICAC. According to the reply given by the Prime Minister, the investigation is still continuing.
There exists a risk therefore that the Leader of the Opposition may have to wait for some time before he could clean up his slate in this matter. He will be held in the same position of waiting for things to be finalised at the level of investigations as it has been the case with the MedPoint scandal.
While this dog-and-cat game may keep the political cauldron bubbling about the next turnaround in the matter of political alliances, it does not help at the level of the investigating institutions. People could make inferences that the latter might be attending to their duties or not, according to how it suits political convenience, instead of finishing off an investigation they are in charge of.
It is important not to cause doubts to hang out concerning the earnest with which public institutions complete their tasks. This is because they have a much wider charge at the level of the nation. It is important in this respect to prove their unimpeachable fairness and expeditiousness in the conduct of all their investigations. Many have started thinking that the investigators ought by now to have concluded on certain matters of interest in the political domain, that they have been addressing over a fairly long period now. It is time to finalize. This will help maintain confidence in their impartiality in dealing with matters that may even have some element of political colouring.
* Published in print edition on 25 May 2012