Points to Ponder
Politics is the diversion of trivial men
A First Point: Now that we have gone through the difficult period of our general election without any serious mishap, it is time to think over how we can bring about the much needed reconciliation among our people. It is understood that any election leaves in its wake a lot of misery, heartache, mistrust and division. Those who have won should be proud of their victory, but they should think more of those who have lost. They must not behave as if the country belongs to them, they must think of sharing whatever is available in the country with those who have worked for those who have lost. And those who have lost must accept that the people have spoken against them. I know of cases of members of families who quarrel with each other and they stop talking to each other in the process. All communications are interrupted as if they have always been strangers or rather enemies. There are so many people who stop all relationship with their neighbours simply because they support different political parties, but they fail to understand that those very neighbours will be the first to help them in times of need.
Are the politicians worth fighting for at the end of the day? Let us see what some famous persons have said about politicians and about politics.
Every bumptious idiot thinks himself a born ruler of men.
— George Bernard Shaw
It is a general error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be most anxious for its welfare.
— Edmund Burke
He knows nothing and he thinks he knows everything. That points to a political career.
— George Bernard Shaw
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there’s no river.
— Nikita Krushchev
Politics is the diversion of trivial men who, when they succeed at it, become important in the eyes of more trivial men.
— George Jean Nathan
You can ponder over such points of view and if you agree with them, you can have some consolation if your candidate has lost the election. And for the candidate who has lost, I shall say that he should not grieve, he should take a holiday and they go back to his previous job without giving another thought to politics. It is not worth it.
The office of the President has been dragged into mud and dirt
A Second Point: I am flabbergasted, simply stunned. How can a past President of the Republic address an eminently political meeting just before a few days of the general election? I cannot believe that such an occurrence can take place in our country in this year.
Cassam Uteem was on the public platform of the MMM, he addressed the gathering, he gave his reasons for acting as he did, he criticized the Alliance de l’Avenir, he praised the Alliance du Coeur, and he called upon the electorate to vote for his party, that is the MMM.
Cassam Uteem said that he is not doing active politics, but what he did was indulging actively in active politics than any other thing. My opinion is very clear on what he did and it cannot be gainsaid that he is an active politician in the MMM party. However, I must say that either he does not understand what the responsibilities of the President entail, both when he is in office as well as when he is out of office, in which case he was not entitled to hold such a high post, or he knew very well what those responsibilities were and are, and in the circumstances, he deliberately got involved in party politics, which smacks of a total disregard of what he knows to be right. In either case, he deserves to be condemned for what he has done.
Whatever excuses Cassam Uteem might come up with, I will not be convinced that he has acted rightly. The more so as he is enjoying a pension that is more or less equal to his allowance as the President as well as all the perks and facilities that he is getting. I am not saying that a past President should not be allowed a pension equivalent to his allowance when he was in office or to the other perks, but it has always been understood that a past President should not meddle in party politics. This Cassam Uteem has not understood or has deliberately failed to follow.
Should the pension and other facilities that Cassam Uteem is receiving as a past President be withdrawn? This is a question that needs to be examined. Many people do not understand that we cannot compare the President in the French system or the American system with the President in our system or in the Indian system, or in country when there exists the Westminster system. We are not governed by the presidential system, but rather by the parliamentary system. In our system, the President has only a ceremonial role, except where the Constitution allows the President to have some residual powers.
Our politicians must understand how and why the office of the President evolved in our system. As I understand it, it all started in the United Kingdom, which was considered the Mother country by the colonies, and obviously, it had a king or a queen, usually called the Sovereign. In the early days, the Sovereign had absolute powers, and he or she was considered to govern by the Divine Right. Nobody could question the Sovereign, but a time went by, the Lords, especially the big landlords, became more and more powerful. The upper clergy also was gathering momentum.
In the year 1215, which is considered an important date in the advancement of the British Constitution, King John was more or less forced to give certain concessions to the people of the country. We then had three estates in the country, the Sovereign, the Lords temporal and the Lords Spiritual. Slowly and slowly, year by year then century by century, the power of the Sovereign was eroded, until only some residual powers were left. And now in the United Kingdom, there is only a constitutional monarchy, that is a king or queen who has to act according to the Constitution, always on the advice of the Cabinet and not according to whims and fancies.
Over the years, England became a superpower, it started having colonies all over the world and the British sovereign had to have a representative in those colonies. This representative was the Governor. But then, the people in the colonies did not want to remain as colonies, therefore, most of the colonies with a largely white population were given the title of dominions. But there were the odd exceptions, like Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. And these dominions had as the representative of the British monarch a person going by the title of Governor General. The other colonies remained as such.
In the late forties India wrestled its independence from the United Kingdom, and the question was how the countries in the Commonwealth would be kept as a group, without the various countries going their own way. All those ex-colonies decided to become Republics within the Commonwealth and the representative of the British Sovereign henceforth became the President of the Republic.
These are the circumstances in which we came to have a President in our Republic. The idea has always been that the President acts in the same way as the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. It is unthinkable for the sovereign to meddle in political matters, except as the Constitution allows, and this is valid for all time. The sovereign holds office for life, except in certain circumstances, but the President is elected by the National Assembly for a fixed term. The past President is paid to stay away from politics and this is what he should do.
This is my reading of the situation. Anybody can get the opinion of some good constitutional lawyer, or better still, of the full bench of the Supreme Court as to what a past President can do or not do. Or why not of the Privy Council?
The office of the President has been dragged into mud and dirt, for political reasons. Can this be acceptable to our people and especially our politicians? How long will it take to re-establish the reputation of the office of the President of the Republic?
Of priests and politics
A Third Point: I expect ordinary persons to lie in their everyday life on a number of issues, the more so if by lying they can expect to derive some sort of benefit or profit. Such is the habit of most ordinary mortals. But this is never expected of people who are in religion. Yes, I am talking of Jocelyn Grégoire, the Roman Catholic priest who heads the Federation des créoles mauriciens. Jocelyn Grégoire may say whatever he likes, he can say as many times as he likes, that he has not given any instructions to vote for the MMM, but the truth is that he has given clear indications that the Creole electors must vote for the MMM.
I was expecting Grégoire to give clear instructions as to what he wanted, but unfortunately, for a priest, he was less than clear in his instructions, but the instructions were there, anybody could see them. Not only Grégoire, but another priest, namely Alain Romaine has given full support to vote for the MMM.
Who are the real communalists, which party is fighting for a racist policy when at the same time, trying to pass off as liberal minded and making people believe that the party is in favour of all the Mauritians? Why is it that the PMSD is ignored by all those priests and those parties on the other side that know that the PMSD and Xavier Duval have played a major part in the government?
One group of Christians has written to President Obama about the supposed incident in Triolet when Christians were trying to convert Hindus to Christianity. Mauritius is a free country and people are free to write to anybody, but we say that those Christians should not use their influence nor the money of the Americans to try to buy the conscience of the Hindus. If their religion tells them that they must preach their religion and convert the Hindus, Hinduism does not preach any such doctrine. Hinduism is not a religion that has taken roots about 2000 years ago. Hinduism is the Sanatan Vedic Dharma, that is it is the eternal religion, and this is what Hindus believe in. Their religion was not founded by anyone and it did not start at any particular time. It has always existed and it will always exist.
Another offshoot of Christianity, called “La Ligue Chrétienne Pentécotiste” or some name like that, also has also given instructions to the electorate to vote for the MMM. However, this one has been clear in its instructions, it has not used some subterfuge to say what it meant. I like such instructions, at least you know where they stand.
People should not declare that they are holier than thou when it comes to politics, and this should apply to the MMM, the MSM, the PMSD or to the Labour Party. Everyone must accept that we have not reached the point where there is no racism, no communalism, no discrimination. It is known that the Hindus are in a majority. Would everybody accept to study the languages of the Hindus? Obviously no. Would the MMM force the Creole language, in the Mauritian sense, down the throat of the unwilling Hindu Mauritians? Looks like yes, and herein lies the roots of all kinds of trouble.
Would what is called the Creole culture be officially recognized as the Mauritian culture? How to describe the official culture? Is it composed of the sega dance and the sega song? But this is the culture of a minority of Mauritians. Besides, Creole culture has not been defined and so long as you have not defined precisely the meaning of a particular term, it is not possible to discuss. The next Minister of Culture has a difficult task ahead. Let us wait for what the next government proposes.