Points to Ponder 


Of Cretinism & Political Opportunism


A First Point:  

Politics… Is the political behaviour of Paul Bérenger akin to the normal behaviour of a politician in Mauritius? If it is, then I am very concerned that our politicians have come down so low. A normal Mauritian behaves correctly when talking about his adversaries, especially when talking to the media.


There is no need to use un langage châtié, but everyday politeness demands that the same type of language should be used in these circumstances as generally used when addressing close members of the family. You must use the same language in public as you use in your salon or drawing room where you talk to your close relatives and those you regularly receive in that private place. You cannot have one language for your kith and kin and another for politicians you cannot stand, be they of the opposition parties.


What has Paul Bérenger said? Sir Anerood Jugnauth gave a lunch in honour of Joachim Chissano, the ex-President of Mozambique who was the chief guest on the occasion of the celebration of the Abolition of Slavery Day. The Prime Minister was invited and so were Pravind Jugnauth and Xavier Duval, but Paul Bérenger was not. Subsequently, a communiqué was issued by the office of the President to the effect that the lunch was a private one.


Because he was not invited to this lunch, Paul Bérenger was downright insulting towards Pravind Jugnauth. He called this latter “le petit crétin”. In common parlance, in the Creole language, “crétin” means someone who does not understand anything, who is a fool, who can be fooled by anybody, whose intelligence is far below the average, and the word is usually used with contempt. This is my understanding of the meaning of the word “crétin” as used in the Creole language.


When the word is used in the French language, “crétin” means “une personne atteinte de crétinisme, un idiot, un imbécile, un sot, un stupide”, and “crétinisme” is defined as “forme de débilité mentale et de dégénérescence physique et par extension grande bêtise”. When Paul Bérenger qualified Pravind Jugnauth as a “crétin”, did he mean the word as understood in Creole or in French? It does not matter much, as for practical purposes the word has the same meaning in French or in Creole. It is very debasing for anybody, the more so to Pravind Jugnauth.


I do not know if Paul Bérenger uses such language vis-à-vis his relatives, friends and those who are like him. I fail to understand that the same Paul Bérenger, who was so full of praise for Pravind Jugnauth for his political acumen and his sincerity as a partner — he even said that he had all the makings of a future Prime Minister — has now turned so bitter against the same Pravind Jugnauth. What was the faute of Pravind Jugnauth to be visited with such a lowly qualification? This matter has got to be answered in all sincerity. I really do not find that any faute committed by him. He was invited to a lunch by the President and it would have been most improper for him not to attend. What was wrong with that? Should he have turned down the invitation? Maybe then he would have been a hero in the eyes of Paul Bérenger. So why has he been, so to say, sent to the gallows?


Now Paul Bérenger must tell us, without any faux-fuyant, whether he was sincere when he was praising Pravind Jugnauth or when he has been calling him “un petit crétin”? He could not have been sincere on both occasions; he must have conveniently withheld his true feelings about Pravind Jugnauth on at least one of the two occasions. When was that occasion, the first time or the second time?


Paul Bérenger has gone further. About the lunch given by the Sir Anerood Jugnauth to the ex-President of Mozambique and about the manner it was organized, he said “c’est une connerie commise par la présidence”. We all know that the President himself decides when to give a lunch, in whose honour he does so and who he invites. If there is a “connerie” concerning the lunch as Paul Bérenger seems to suggest, then according to him the President himself has done the “connerie”.


What is the meaning of the word “connerie”? It is not used by ordinary persons who speak the ordinary Creole language. It is used by the intellectual class mostly and the meaning is the same as in French. It means “imbécilité, absurdité, bêtise”. Accusing the “présidence”, in other words the President himself, of such characteristics is taking things a bit too far. He may not be in agreement with Sir Anerood Jugnauth, but he cannot treat the President as if he were the lowest of the low.


Does Paul Bérenger really have such an opinion of both Pravind Jugnauth and Sir Anerood Jugnauth? If he does, then according to him, they are not fit persons to be entrusted with any post in the country.


We must remember that Paul Bérenger himself proposed the name of Sir Anerood Jugnauth in the National Assembly for the post of President of the Republic. At that time, Paul Bérenger was full of praise for Sir Anerood Jugnauth, for certain reasons maybe. And now the President is accused of doing a “connerie”. When was Paul Bérenger speaking the truth? Then or now? He cannot have been truthful on both occasions. Where is his sincerity?


I am not defending Pravind Jugnauth nor Sir Anerood Jugnauth for that matter. They are, I suppose, quite capable of doing that themselves. I am just putting my views to the public so that they can draw their own conclusions. Paul Bérenger has been able to insult both the son and the father, and tell us at the same time what he thinks of them.


May I ask a few of the leaders of the MMM what they think of the conduct of Paul Bérenger on this occasion and whether they agree with him? I will ask Jayen Cuttaree, Rajesh Bhagwan, Vijay Makhan, Pradeep Jeeha, Madun Dulloo, Dinesh Ramjuttun, and Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo to tell us frankly how they view the opinion of their leader on Pravind Jugnauth and on Sir Anerood Jugnauth. I need not ask the opinion of the journalists-lackeys of Paul Bérenger. Such persons are incapable of having an opinion of their own.


I am sure that the MSM will make the best use of the opinion of Paul Bérenger on SAJ and Pravind Jugnauth during the forthcoming electoral campaign. Such is politics.


One other point: Everybody knows that the MSM draws its support mostly from the Hindu vote-bank. Now, Paul Bérenger qualifies that party as a “une puanteur communale”. And this is “le fond de sa pensée”? If he really thinks so, why was he in alliance with the MSM? So far as I know, this party has not changed its policies nor the persons who generally are considered its leaders. Was Paul Bérenger happy when the MSM was bringing some Hindu votes to the MMM-MSM alliance? Was he then keeping quiet the MSM’s contribution in terms of Hindu votes benefited the MMM?

Is he so much against the MSM now because Pravind Jugnauth has very clearly said that there will be no alliance between the MSM and the MMM and that he will be the direct challenger of Paul Bérenger? If Pravind Jugnauth would have accepted to be in alliance with Paul Bérenger and agreed to the latter’s conditions, then Pravind Jugnauth would have been a very good Deputy Prime Minister, would he not?




Dealing with Criminals


A Second Point: People are not satisfied with the way in which criminals are dealt with in Mauritius. They agree that the Policemen are more or less doing their job properly with the facilities that are put at their disposal. We cannot expect too much from the police officers, but they should continue with their work to achieve still better results.


Then we have the various Courts that have the duty to punish the criminals who have been found guilty. And here it seems that those who have the duty to punish the criminals are too lenient, being given the number of crimes, especially serious ones, committed in the country. It is all very good to allow those who judge the criminals to sentence the culprits and they should not be dictated to by the Executive, but they should be aware of the social situation in the country. The punishment should be in consonance with the crime and with the circumstances in which the crime is committed.


However, the blame should lie with the prison authorities, but not solely with the prison service, but also with the government, for the leniency that is shown to the prisoners. I have said it so many times that now I am fed up with the functioning of this service. I am not going to repeat what I have said in my previous articles, but this much I can say: the number of serious crimes will never diminish in the country so long as a prison sentence is looked upon as a paid holiday by the criminals assorted with a pension to their dependents.


Be serious in dealing with prisoners. They are in prison as a punishment for the crimes that they have committed. If they have to be rehabilitated, this can be done after they have served their sentence.


All the civil rights of the prisoners should be suspended for the duration of their sentence. These rights can be restored to them on their release and not before. The prisoners should not have anything for free. If they want to have food, they should have to pay for it. And they must be made to work hard to earn some money.


What is this matter of the relatives getting a pension when the criminal is serving a prison sentence? Is it the government’s responsibility to feed the relatives of or other persons close to the prisoners? Let the prisoner take his responsibility for his family and other relatives. If pensions have to be paid, these must come from the moneys earned by the prisoner while he is serving his sentence.


A prisoner must be under a legal obligation to make good to the State or to the victim the damages caused by his crime, and should be made to pay the full compensation of claims arising as a result of the crime, however long it might take him to do so, even his whole lifetime if necessary.


Put these measures in practice and it is guaranteed that in a few months, crime will be drastically reduced. This will be for the good of all Mauritians. But who is interested in the welfare of the Mauritians?


Accused persons on remand should be kept away from convicted criminals, and they should enjoy all the rights that they are now enjoying. This is simply because they have not been convicted by a Court of Law. But there should be a time limit within which a person on remand must be judged, otherwise he should be released.


There is another matter on which I would like to say a few words. This concerns those who are addicted to drugs. These people have usually become drug addicts voluntarily, on their own, or may have been tricked into it by unscrupulous persons. In any case I do not consider that addicts are people suffering from a disease and that they should be given some treatment. Why does government spend millions of rupees to give to drug addicts another type of drug supposedly to cure their addiction? Is it the responsibility of the government to spend our money on the addicts? I have spoken to doctors and they tell me that that methadone or any such drug has not and will not cause the severance off any hard drug. If a drug addict can muster the will to give up his habit of taking drugs, he can do it by himself but not by taking a substitute drug.


I am asking government to get the opinion of a panel of doctors on drug addiction and whether the method now being applied by the authorities is of any use. Millions of rupees are being spent uselessly to pander to the whims of the drug addicts.


Give better facilities to the police force and tell them to show severity where it demands and leniency in the proper circumstances. Improve drug-trafficking controls at our ports. Most Mauritians will agree.



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