Points to Ponder
Drug trafficking: Introduce the Death Penalty
A First Point: We are getting fed up with drugs and drug related cases that do not reach satisfactory conclusions. Everybody says that many people are dealing in drugs, local people as well as foreigners. There are others who act as couriers, that is those who transport drugs on behalf of the dealers. The police authorities are doing their duty but they are not successful in eradicating the problem.
The drug dealers are making their money not only by keeping alive those who consume drugs but also by constantly enlarging their clientele by recruiting fresh consumers and the business keeps on growing.
How to get rid of the drug problem in Mauritius? Not with the usual punishment that is inflicted on those convicted of drug offences. Definitely not. I have said it that for some persons a conviction to a term of imprisonment appears to be a welcome rest from their everyday worries; in some cases it is said they carry on their usual business even from their prison cell.
We are living in a situation of emergency as far as drugs are concerned. The usual punishment has no effect. Those involved know that anyway, they will be free in a matter of years, and in the meantime, their second in command can hold the fort. The only punishment that can be meted out to those who are poisoning our people is one of death. And there should be no compromise on this. If government really wants to bring down the consumption of drugs, it must stop the supply chain. This can only be done through a drying up of the supply of drugs on the local market.
Let there be mandatory sentence of death for all those who are drug dealers, for those who carry the drugs and those who bring innocent persons to become drug addicts. This can be done if there is the political will. But do we have the people with that kind of will?
The law about drugs need to be amended. And this requires a proper study. And the Courts should understand that we are in an emergency in drugs matters. British courts may have their reasoning but we do not agree with their reasoning because here we are very much concerned with the drug problem. We are in favour of a death sentence and let all Mauritians as well as all foreigners coming to the country be made aware that if they are caught dealing in drugs, they cannot escape the death penalty.
At one time, drugs were rampant in Singapore. But now, Singaporean society is one of the few societies that are more or less drug free. And over there, death sentence is mandatory for drug offences. Singapore is far advanced over us in every sphere except maybe in freedom about political matters.
When we talk to our politicians individually, most of them agree that for drug offences, a mandatory death sentence is the right punishment and that this is the only way to do away with the problem. This applies to politicians of every single party in Mauritius. But I do not know the reason for which they change their minds when they meet among themselves. My suggestion is that at least one politician from each party should take the lead and say it loud and clear that he is for the imposition of the death sentence in matters of drugs. A petition should be prepared and every Member of Parliament should be asked to give his approval of the contents of the petition. We shall then know who are against the drug peddlers and those who want to do away with drugs in the country. And also who are in favour of protecting those who make billions of rupees whilst at the same time are poisoning our people. People will be grateful to those who will help to make of Mauritius a drug free country.
Dinesh Ramjuttum v/s Sham Mathura
A Second Point: It seems that at long last, Dr Dinesh Ramjuttun might be given a ticket to fight the forthcoming general election in the constituency of Pamplemousses-Triolet, the constituency of the Prime Minister. I say ‘might’ and not ‘will’, because so long as he is not given a written notification that he will be the candidate, any promise and any talk would be in vain.
Two matters must be considered. If there is an alliance, the views of the other party in the alliance must be considered. And we cannot be sure whether the other party will not put a veto on the candidature of Dinesh Ramjuttum or any other proposed candidate for that matter. And also, we must consider the views of the ex-Labour member Sham Mathura who has been selected by Paul Bérenger himself to be the candidate of the MMM in the constituency of Pamplemousses-Triolet and up to this point in time this holds good. It must be remembered that Sham Mathura wanted to the Labour Party candidate in the last general election in Beau Bassin-Petite Rivière but at the last moment, he could not be accommodated by the Labour Party. Instead, Soonita Kumari Kisnamah was chosen to represent the party. Sham Mathura then joined the political fray as an independent candidate.
Subsequently, he associated himself with the MMM and he was given the responsibility to campaign in Beau Bassin-Petite Rivière as a prospective MMM candidate. Subsequently, he had to move to the constituency of Pamplemousses-Triolet — apparently he could not fit in Beau Bassin-Petite Rivière. Now that Dinesh Ramjuttun is looked upon as a serious candidate in the same constituency, it appears that Sham Mathura will lose his promised seat over there as well. Apparently both Dinesh Ramjuttun and Sham Mathura cannot be candidates in that constituency, because both of them come from the same ‘caste’ – a concept that always raises its head, or, to be more precise, raked up by politicians to fool the Indo-Mauritian electorate. The three candidates must be from three different castes, unless the MMM decides to sacrifice one caste and decides to strengthen one caste at the expense of another. Or maybe Sham Mathura will be told to move to yet another constituency from which he might be shifted to Rodrigues maybe.
And now about the Labour Party. For quite some time, we know that the relationship between the two Labour Party members of Parliament, that is Vasant Bunwaree and Yatin Varma, has been very bad. We do not know the reason for which they have fallen out, but they are worse than two opponents from two different parties. Now that the general election is fast approaching, they both want to be candidates in the same constituency.
It is my opinion that both of them cannot claim to represent the constituency, and I will go so far as to say that neither can adequately represent the constituency, because they both have their own bunch of staunch supporters who disagree among themselves as much as the two candidates do. If the two candidates are to be given tickets, they must both be moved to other different constituencies, where neither can do any harm to the other.
I have heard that a meeting was to be held in order to try to patch up the relationship between the two warring factions, but it was not held on the day fixed, for one reason or another. But those persons do not realize that even if these two gentlemen would patch up, this does not mean that the partisans also will do likewise. The question is not about the two individuals, it is about the partisans of the Labour Party and also about the Alliance Sociale. But above all, it is about the Labour Party itself.
My opinion is that both members must move out of the constituency, but only one of them should be given a ticket for some other constituency. And that person can very well be Vasant Bunwaree because he has served the Labour Party for quite some time and his service has been appreciated.
NGOs: Is the taxpayer is getting value for money?
A Third Point: The Association des Consommateurs de l’Ile Maurice (ACIM) has discovered a startling matter. It has told us that the price of vegetables has gone up. Without the officers of the ACIM, we have all noticed that quite a number of vegetables are not available and the price of the rest has been such that the poorer people find it difficult to buy them.
We all know that the ACIM gets or rather the ACIM wrestles hundreds of thousands of rupees from the government. I was always under the impression that the ACIM is an independent organisation, independent of the government, with its own source of financing and with the aim of giving satisfaction to the consumers. Unfortunately, I have been misled. The ACIM takes government money, and what does it do? It says that it wants to preserve its independence, but with government’s money. And it gives a few press conferences.
But what about concrete action, apart from talking, does it take to help resolve the day-to-day problems that Mauritian consumers face? Let us take an example. The ACIM says that the price of vegetables has gone up. So what? We were expecting the officers of the ACIM to tell us what should be done to give satisfaction to the consumers. It does not propose any solution because apparently it does not have any except to tell us about the higher prices of vegetables.
Some people have said that the ACIM should not take money from government and it can then assert its independence. Why does it not do so? And for such money, its secretary went on a hunger strike. Government gave in. Who won and who lost in the long run? We shall have to wait.
An association that looks after the interests of consumers should not depend on the government nor on the private sector. If it can exist independently of these two, it can be called that it stands on its own legs. This organization had a chance to prove that it can exist without government’s help. Unfortunately, the secretary himself was the first to say that the officers are not being paid.
And instead of going to Court to claim what the secretary thinks is lawfully due to his organisation, he chose the easy way out, and that was the famous or rather the infamous hunger strike. Did he know that he had no case against the government and that is why he did not go to Court? People must have guts to go to Court to claim what is lawfully theirs. Or is it that that the secretary cannot trust even our judicial system?
How many real consumer problems has the ACIM solved up to now? If it cannot solve the problems, then it is useless for government to give so much money for useless causes. And who recruits the officers to serve the association? The person who controls the organization? But it is not fair to use government money to effect private recruitments, without the authority having a proper say in the matter. Are the vacancies ever advertised? Who says that the best candidates are recruited? Is the best practice being followed? Is a policy of transparency being observed? Are the accounts of this NGO, and of others that take taxpayers’ money, audited by the Government Auditor to ensure that the taxpayer is getting value for money? These questions need answers.
Language and Racism
A Fourth Point: I read somewhere that some journalists are not happy that Dr Navin Ramgoolam has made a religious speech in Hindi at the Ganga Talao on the occasion of the Maha Shivaratree festival. There is nothing wrong in this; on the contrary, he should be encouraged to use this language as often as possible. He can also use Urdu on other occasions, especially when he is called upon to address a gathering where Urdu would be appropriate, n’en déplaise à certains.
Only Hindus can understand the link between the Hindu religion and politics, this is beyond the understanding of people preaching any western religion. These people know only a Euro-Creole culture and they think that such a culture is universal and that everybody should follow this particular culture to the exclusion of all others.
Let us talk about Mauritius, and I shall restrict myself essentially to the Hindu religion and culture and the Creole language. Hindus were treated worse than slaves in the beginning, and in spite of that, they have been able to preserve their religion, their culture and their language, through a lot of struggle. Everything was done to get rid of our religion, our culture and our language. A few persons who were weak in every sphere could not withstand the treatment and they gave up what was theirs and adopted what their masters dictated to them.
I have said it that at a certain time, well over 70% of the people of Mauritius were conversing in Bhojpuri. Why is it that Bhojpuri is now considered a dying language and this at the expense of the Creole language? The reason is simple.
The Hindus generally were fluent in their respective languages, that is Bhojpuri, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi, Gujarati or Bengali. Because the Bhojpuri speaking persons far outnumbered the other Hindus, everybody in the community learnt the language merely by association. But, and this is most important, the other communities stayed away from Bhojpuri, as if it was anathema to them. Hindus have had neither fear nor any laziness to learn and converse in the Creole language. And they have learnt English and French as well as well as Hindi, Tamil, Telegu and Marathi as well.
My advice to those persons who are not happy with those who use Hindi or Bhojpuri is that they should make an effort to familiarise themselves with these languages; that will help them to understand what is being said. It is not proper to act like a racist or communalist who does not understand these languages and yet think it is below their dignity to learn them.
Even if they do not want to learn them, they should not feel unhappy when speeches are made in those languages, that is to say Hindi or Bhojpuri. After all, Creole is not the official language. Would those few persons feel happy if the Prime Minister would have made a speech in English, the official language? Or would they have felt happier if the speech would have been in the Creole language?