Points to Ponder

MMM paves the way for a three-cornered fight

A FIRST POINT: I am just getting fed up with local politicians. Why is it that the two principal main parties, that can claim to form the next government, do not focus on their respective programmes? We do understand that the Labour Party is traditionally recognized as a governing party and the MMM as an opposition party. I am not saying that that the Labour Party wants to swap places with the MMM, though it looks like the MMM would wish to do so. If these two parties want to go into an alliance, they cannot spend all their time looking for all the faults, real or imaginary, of the other party.

After what has happened so far, can we say that the Labour Party and the MMM will join in an alliance for the next general election? I do not think so.

I still remember the days when the MMM used to say that each party must fight the general election on its own and that negotiations for any coalition must be discussed thereafter, that is let there be a three-cornered fight between the Labour Party, the MMM and the MSM. That was the first and only choice of the MMM.

The MMM talked to the MSM and this latter party was taken in by the sweet talk of Paul Bérenger. The MSM left the government and joined the MMM in the opposition, as the second party. Then Paul Bérenger sweet-talked Sir Anerood Jugnauth into resigning as President of the Republic on the understanding that he would be the future leader of an eventual coalition of the opposition parties. But I found it surprising that Paul Bérenger had conceded 50 per cent, that is 30 of the tickets to the MSM. He could not justify this concession. It must be remembered that Sir Anerood Jugnauth did not have any party of which he could then claim to be the leader.

This episode reminds me of the boy who wanted to have some good time with a certain girl. He talked so sweetly that the girl fell into his trap. After some time, he tried the same trick with another girl and he bamboozled this second girl also. Both girls thought that he would marry them, but both were tricked and left with nothing but to curse him to their hearts’ content. Now the boy is sweet-talking a third candidate hoping that she also will fall in his trap, but he must realise that, sooner or later, he may equally fall in some girl’s trap for good.

The ambition of Paul Bérenger is to win a general election without any alliance. But since he knows he cannot do so, he is cleverly manipulating the egos of the leaders of the Labour Party and the MSM, promising to support the one for a presidency with enhanced powers and the other yet another prime ministerial term. Unfortunately these two leaders are so ambitious politically that they are blind to the buffoonery that they are being subjected to, not to speak of not seeing the larger interest that they must represent for the sake of both the social and political stability of the country.

Now Paul Bérenger can come up with some pretext or the other for not finalizing the upcoming alliance with Navin Ramgoolam – this in order to pave the way for a three-cornered fight. How dumb can Pravind Jugnauth and his party members be to give up the various posts that they were occupying in the government? How dumb can Sir Anerood Jugnauth be to give up the topmost position in the country, the post of the President of the Republic? Clearly, Paul Bérenger is making them dance to his tune – and their political experience notwithstanding, they have fallen into his trap.

Did Paul Bérenger sincerely have the wish to have an alliance with the MSM, with Pravind Jugnauth or even with Anerood Jugnauth? Or does he really have the desire to go with Navin Ramgoolam? I wonder. Pretexts can easily be found. I can suggest a few when the time comes.

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Police: The Singapore Model

A SECOND POINT: How does our police force compare with its counterparts worldwide? Can one say it’s in the same league as those that constitute the 100 best run forces worldwide? Or amongst the 150’s?

What has prompted me to write about our police force is that some time back I was reading about Singapore’s police in one of the international papers. Singapore boasts of having a police force that is ranked amongst the five most efficient ones worldwide – a ranking that has taken the Singaporeans 30 years to achieve.

What about our own police force? It is common knowledge that it suffers from a number of failings, namely:

1. Lack of discipline. Many police officers, from the highest to the lowest ranks, do what they think best for themselves without thinking of the Force’s or of the country’s interest. The police’s credo should challenge police officers to put the needs and well-being of the people and of the Force they serve first. Is this indeed the case? I doubt it. It must be remembered that ‘l’exemple vient d’en haut”, therefore those in the higher ranks must set the good example, and adherence to rank regulations must be unconditional in an organization whose core mandate is to maintain law and order.

2. There are allegations about a number of corrupt officers serving the Force. Whether such is the case or not, I do not know. What is the Commissioner of Police and also the Prime Minister, who is the line Minister, doing to get rid of such a negative image of the Force? At the same time, the public must collaborate, (but with whom?) in not giving bribes to corrupt officers. I remember in my student days, a friend of mine told me “rishwat de raha tha pakra gaya, aur rishwat deke phir choot gaya” (He was caught giving a bribe but he was again set free after giving a bribe). To get rid of bribe giving and receiving is one of the most difficult matters that needs to be solved as quickly as possible.

The “brebis galeuses” in the Force must be got rid of without undue delay. How many officers have been dismissed so far for various offences? Why does it take so long to deal with such matters? Disciplinary action must be initiated and dealt with on a fast track basis.

3. One of the conditions for recruitment in the Force is physical fitness. Police officers are also expected to remain physically fit during the time they serve the Force; pot bellies, obesity generally, must be avoided at all costs. But just go to any police station and you’ll be astounded to see the number of obese and physically unfit officers.

4. Are the best officers — those who are dedicated to their duty, are sincere and who continue studying throughout their career — rewarded and encouraged to do better and better? And the best encouragement should be a monetary compensation, promotional prospects and other incentives that need to be looked into.

There are no doubt some very good officers who do their job to the satisfaction of everybody and who understand what it takes and means to be a good police officer. We hope their example will be emulated by the rest of the Force.

It will go to the credit of the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police to build a police force that compares favourably with the best in the world. Can we expect our police force to climb up to reach a ranking comparable to that of Singapore’s? In five years? In ten years?


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