If wishes were horses…

 Points to Ponder

By Lex

Believe me, it is always a pleasure to be back from a trip overseas but then at times when we come back, we sadly find we have to mourn the passing away of a close relative. However, this is what life is all about and we have to accept the good with the bad. Anyway…

A First Point: Politically, we have started moving rather fast, a bit too fast I should say especially after the last general elections — if, that is, we were to accept the political agenda that the opposition is trying to set for us. The effort is being led by the MMM, the party in opposition, with some other mini-parties supporting it as well as some politicians who have an agenda opposing what the government thinks. Can they influence the Mauritian electorate? We have an intelligent and enlightened electorate, and I do not think they will be taken in by the siren song of Paul Bérenger or of some other politician.

I was expecting the opposition to raise matters concerning the unfair treatment of foreign workers in the country, questions of law and order, the fact that the price of most items of everyday consumption is taking an upward turn, the postponement of the local government election, and so on. There are several subjects of topical interest that can catch the public eye. But what do we see?

The opposition is interested with only one matter and that is the transaction concerning the Medpoint Clinic, that is to say the land and the building previously housing the clinic. I am told that the matter is being investigated by the ICAC and any sensible person should wait for the report of ICAC before pronouncing on the matter. I do agree that some members of the Jugnauth family were the owners of most of the shares in the company controlling the assets of the clinic but I would prefer to wait for the outcome of the enquiry rather than pronounce without the relevant evidence.

People are saying that the Ministry of Finance has paid an exaggerated price for the property it has purchased. And the MMM is making all sorts of allegations right and left. It has decided to distribute pamphlets on the matter throughout the country, but again I would say that people should wait for the conclusion of the enquiry. However, the MMM is in too much of a hurry.

I am not trying to defend the MSM or the government on this matter. They can do it very well themselves, but I am concerned with the political culture of the MMM. Why is it that they do not find meat in the real issues with affect the common man? This reminds me of one of the supposed defenders of our consumers. I use the word supposed deliberately because the organization has, so far as I know, not done anything positive to protect us the consumers. But there is one matter for which it has worked very hard, and that is to ensure that government continues paying that organization a subsidy so that their people can be paid for some work that they are supposed to be doing. Why is it that they do not take a few matters, about which they are sure to be right, to Court and at least we would then know that they have achieved something?

I have had a good laugh and the cause was no other than Paul Bérenger himself. He made a declaration about the “grossièreté habituelle” of Pravind Jugnauth. I do not know what Pravind Jugnauth has said that Paul Bérenger could qualify as “grossièreté habituelle”, but Paul Bérenger should have been the last person to think so. Of all the politicians I have known, Paul Bérenger tops the list in matters of “grossièretés”. We all remember the famous episode when he found Anil Baichoo to be “intellectuellement limité”. Or this very week when he referred to Soodhun as “hystérique” though in this case he may not been far from the truth. I was told by a relative a week ago that there will be some problem in the supply of fuel and it did happen. Soodhun should have been candid about the situation.

Paul Bérenger says that the MMM is not interested to join the Labour Party in case the MSM were to cease its participation in the government. Who has said that the MSM will not form part of the government? And who has offered Paul Bérenger and the MMM a place in the government? Maybe these are just wishes… if wishes were horses, you know who would fly.

A trade unionist criticized Paul Bérenger for sparing Navin Ramgoolam and for concentrating all his criticisms on Pravind Jugnauth. This is the perception of most Mauritians. The trade unionist was simply repeating what most of us have known for a long time. Paul Bérenger has reacted at the observation of the trade unionist with his usual vigour. And from this I can conclude that there will be no alliance between the Labour Party and the MMM, at least for the moment as the leader of the opposition has now started criticizing Navin Ramgoolam as well. It all started with what the trade unionist said. 

Whatever happened to our football?

A Second Point: How much money does government spend to promote sports in terms of paying employees, in maintaining the various sports grounds, in paying those who are supposedly doing well in their chosen field, paying the air tickets of so many people as well as giving them a daily allowance? All this for what? Government is spending millions of rupees and it has created a special Ministry of Sports with a full-fledged Minister in charge. What benefit do we derive, one may ask.

Can you believe the Mauritian football team has lost to the Seychelles? Instead of moving forward, we are just going backwards. There was a time when the Mauritian team ruled the roost in the whole of the Indian Ocean. We used to trounce the teams from all the countries in the area. Where are those clubs now? Who is to be blamed if we have lost our edge in football?

I am told that primarily Paul Bérenger and the MMM were behind the decline of our football. And, as an accessory, the then Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth. And they did this with the supposed idea that they did not want to hear of the Hindu Cadets, the Muslim Scouts, the Dodos and such teams. But in the process, they killed our football as well as our other sports.

Can we revive our old teams? It can be done provided those who killed it would accept to swallow their false pride and let our football grow at its own pace.

Maha Shivaratree and the police

A Third Point: The police force has done a rather good job during the Maha Shivaratree festival but there have been shortcomings. Many policemen were detailed to work in the area all around Ganga Talao and the roads leading to that sacred place as well as in the towns.

However, such was not the case in the countryside. A friend of mine was driving from the north to the city centre. Between Morcellement St Andre to Terre Rouge, no policemen were to be seen on the road on Saturday preceding the festival though there were quite a number of pilgrims walking with their Kanwars on their way to Ganga Talao.

Thank God there was no mishap or accident but it could have happened at any time. Maybe the police force should not have detailed so many policemen at and Ganga Talao and some of them could have been to the countryside either to accompany groups of pilgrims or they could have been stationed at strategic points. Hopefully next year the Commissioner of Police will give a thought to this point.

* Published in print edition on 11 March 2011

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