Our Honourable Members of Parliament 

Points To Ponder

By Lex

A First Point: Some politics. Last week the MMM showed that it will never improve in its behavior and conduct, at least not for as long as it remains under the leadership of Paul Bérenger. After all, the leader of the party decides about what the members can do and say. If the leader decides that all the members of Parliament have to stage a walk-out, the followers have to follow, failing which, those who would not obey the decision of the leader, would be out of the party in a matter of days. Why did the MMM members of the National Assembly effect a walk-out during the sitting of last week? I know that this is one of that party’s ways of doing politics. Why is it that at one o’clock in the morning, when the sitting was in full swing, the MMM members decided that they would not continue taking part in the ongoing debate? Up to that point, they were participating fully in the debate but then what was it that happened all of a sudden?

The MMM says that the government decided to wind up the debate on the speech of the President of the Republic on that very night when the whips, of both sides, had decided that there would be another sitting for the conclusion of the debate. But it seems that government decided otherwise and this caught the MMM by surprise, which means to say that Paul Bérenger, the leader of the opposition, was not ready with his speech. This was a lame excuse, for the leader of the opposition must always be ready to answer the government just as the Ministers must be ever ready to answer any point raised by the opposition.

Anyway, this is how politics is carried on in our blessed country: youngsters should learn as from now lest they get an erroneous idea that our way of doing politics can be learnt from the learned books,

But then there was something more interesting that took place during the sitting. Veda Baloomoody, a front bencher of the MMM, intervened. Should I call him Honourable? I do not know. I would rather not because of his conduct and of the language he used in the House, which was clearly most unparliamentary, against Mahen Jhugroo, a colleague of his, though of the Labour Party-PMSD-MSM alliance and sitting on the government bench.

Arvin Boolell, the Minister of External Affairs, raised the matter on a point of order and asked that Veda Baloomoody withdraw the words he had used. The Speaker requested him to withdraw the words if he had used them. Surprisingly, he could not take a decision on his own. He consulted his leader Paul Bérenger and also Alan Ganoo more than once and finally he refused to withdraw the impugned words. The sitting was suspended and on resumption, we saw and heard Baloomoody withdrawing the impugned words. I do not know what finally persuaded him to withdraw the words he had used but the question remains as to the reason of his so doing.

Veda Baloomoody said that he had simply asked Mahen Jhugroo to keep his mouth shut. Maybe for him this was the same thing as the language he had used. I take it that he uses a similarly language when he talks to those who are close to him, but that is his business.

The person who provoked the incident was, it would seem, Mahen Jhugroo. Again I do not know the reason for which he was suspended from the House; it could not have been connected with the previous incident. It seems that he is the master of the shouting brigade of the MSM. He is the same whether he is in the opposition or in the government.

Why was Veda Baloomoody so incensed at a remark of Mahen Jhugroo? The reason seems to be very simple. Apparently, Veda Baloomoody was questioning the deputy Prime Minister about a police case. Mahen Jhugroo remarked that Baloomoody was appearing in the case as Counsel, implying that a Member of Parliament cannot use Parliament as a forum to raise a matter in which he is professionally interested. This is what I read in Erskine May, the authority for Parliamentarians — “On 22 June1858 the House of Commons resolved, “That it is contrary to the usage and derogatory to the dignity of this House that any of its Members should bring forward, promote or advocate in this House any proceeding or measure in which he may have acted or been concerned for or in consideration of any pecuniary fee or reward.”

I am not saying that Veda Baloomoody has been retained in the case, that he has agreed that he should be paid so much as his fee to appear in the case or he has been given or promised a reward. Far be it for me to even make such a suggestion, I am simply commenting on an allegation made in Parliament by Mahen Jhugroo.

Some MMM members were pulling the leg of Mahen Jhugroo by telling him that the MSM is a very small party but he could not take the remark like a gentleman. Apparently, there was some discussion following which he was suspended from the House. Politicians should be thick-skinned enough to take such remarks in their stride.

Mahen Jhugroo cannot accept that the MSM is a small party, but this is a fact unless the contrary is proved. How to assess the strength of a party? By the party fighting an election alone, on its own. During the last election, the MSM fought the electoral battle in a coalition with the Labour Party and the PMSD. So its real strength could not be judged. The only indication we have about its strength comes from the polls which were carried out before the general election. And those polls indicated that the MSM is still far below the 10% mark.

So those bent on defending the MSM should not be cheesed off if some truths are hurled at them.

I still see most of our members of Parliament reading their speeches instead of taking part in the debates. This is against the Standing Orders, against Erskine May and against all rules of debate. Why do they do so? Is it because they cannot take part in a debate or is it that they have to read a speech which another person has written?

How we would have liked the proceedings of the House to be telecast live so that we shall know the real worth of our members of Parliament! There are of course a few who are good. Shall I tell you who the good ones are? That I am sure you can guess for yourself. 

Marriage and Divorce

A Second Point: I knew a judge who was very learned and very fair in his judgments. He was a practising Roman Catholic and he was not in favour of easy divorce. If a petitioner could not make prove his case to his satisfaction, he would throw the petition out. I agreed with him totally.

Hinduism as such does not recognize divorce because Hindus say that a Hindu marriage is not a contract between a person of the male sex with a person of the female sex. You do not have two witnesses to prove that two persons got married according to the tenets of Hinduism. Hindus get married in the presence of God and the parties cannot go against their word.

This is the reason for which most of our parents never bothered to get married civilly. My parents were duly married according to the Hindu religion, but their marriage was not recognized by the authorities. So when I was born, I was declared as “natural acknowledged by both parents.” Maybe when my parents were in their fifties that they decided to get civilly married and all my brothers and sisters were then “legitimized by the subsequent marriage of the parents.” For the authorities then, my mother was a kept woman, in other words a mistress and all their children were bastards. You see, Hindus could not care for what others think, provided they act according to what their religion dictates.

And now instead of making the institution of marriage stronger among the persons who are married, the authorities are doing everything to make divorce easier. We know that everything is not rosy in a marriage; there are problems in all couples. But there must be ways and means to solve the problems. First of all, the husband and wife must try to sort out their differences. If they cannot do it, then they must seek the help of an elderly member of the family. But the matter must never be taken to the police or to the ministry responsible for family matters. If matters reach that level, then the situation has reached the point of no return.

I wonder what is the aim of the Ministry responsible for these matters. I am talking as a Hindu and for the Hindus. Do the Minister and all those working under her understand Hinduism and what a Hindu marriage means? According to them, everything boils down to the Euro-Creole culture and the Christian religion. Do they understand the difference between a civil contract and a “Sanskaar”? What has government provided for the Hindus based on their Sanskaar as distinct from the other communities?

The Minister and the officers concerned must act and act in such a way that our religion and culture are preserved. After all, religion does not exist in a vacuum; it is a matter that should be lived on a daily basis. What is government doing to encourage Hindus to live according to their religion, their customs?

Do the people concerned understand what I am trying to convey? If they do, why are they not acting as they should? If not, the Prime Minister must think of bringing some people to understand what the Hindus want, to start with, with their marriage, with the reasons that will not encourage them to go for a divorce and also how children should not be made to suffer in the quarrel of the parents.

The Roman Catholics also say that a Christian marriage also is a sacrament, and therefore it cannot be dissolved. How right they are! 

Calamity and Disaster 

A Third Point: Why is it that we have so many natural disasters and calamities nearly everywhere in the world? Why is it that summers are much warmer and winters are much colder than in the previous years? Why is it that we have long periods of very dry spells in certain places and at the same time we witness floods unheard of before?

People know what happened in terms of natural disasters and calamities, and is still happening, in the United States of America, in Canada, in Central America, in South America, in Europe, in Russia, in China, in India and in Pakistan. And we can say that all the countries of the world are suffering from natural disasters and calamities.

Maybe we, human beings, have brought this suffering upon ourselves, with our conduct, with our disrespect of Nature and forgetting what our Religion has taught us for tens of thousands of years. Nature is very accommodating, but there is a limit that should not be exceeded. Nature will not tell you anything, but it will take the necessary steps to bring the necessary order. You can never ever win when you are fighting against Nature, and this is what the supposedly intelligent Man does not want to understand. In the process, the intelligent Man is taking us nearer and still nearer to our doomsday.

People talk of the ancient civilizations and that such civilizations disappeared for reasons unknown. Take the case of the civilization around Mohenjo-Daro of ancient India, the Egyptian civilization of old, the Maya and other civilizations of Central and South America. All these civilizations disappeared and all of them were highly advanced. What have they left for us? A few vestiges, just to remind us of their existence at one time.

I shall not say why they disappeared, but I can say that they disappeared. If the Indus basin was hit by a rainy spell that was twice more violent than what is taking place currently and extended for three months, and the Indus River and Basin got out of control for those three months, you can imagine the havoc that that must have been created. If all those civilizations disappeared following natural disasters, nothing of substance was left to write of their history.

If for one reason or another, the Bermuda Triangle has a substratum of truth or the legend of Gondwana has some truth behind its existence, that the Sahara Desert was not always a desert but the sea was very much there, or that the earth was not always tilted on its axis, well we can go on and on, we shall never come to the truth.

Let us determine what should be done here and now. Let us not fiddle with Nature, because Nature can play havoc with us. Let us have more respect for Nature and let us remember that Nature is not in a hurry to teach a well-deserved lesson, but when the time will come, Nature will do what is best to preserve this planet called Earth and what is in it.

I know that here in Mauritius we have a committee to look after natural disasters and calamities. That committee has been doing its work to the best of its ability, but now it is time to have another look at what should be done and the type of committee that we need. Let us have a National Disaster and Calamity Committee that will prepare Mauritius for eventual disasters and calamities and also it will prepare plans for disaster management.

Let the committee be presided over by somebody having the necessary powers to dictate what should be done and by whom. And let the committee meet at least once a month and should the need arise, as often as needed. We must prepare now so that when disaster strikes, we will not be caught unawares.

* Published in print edition on 27 August 2010

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