Points to Ponder
A FIRST POINT: Navin Ramgoolam the leader of the Labour Party and the Prime Minister is not playing the political game that would suit Paul Berenger, leader of the MMM and of the opposition. He is not playing the game that would make Berenger win whatever game they are involved in and therefore the leader of the opposition is very angry against his neighbour.
Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Pravind Jugnauth are critizing Navin Ramgoolam right, left and centre but it seems that such criticism has no effect on the Prime Minister. And understandably, Sir Anerood and his son are getting more and more vexed and angry. When you criticize someone, you expect that person to respond. If there is no response, you get frustrated because you have wasted your time and energy.
It is as if I want to play with you but you refuse to play, though both of us are playing the same game, that of politics. We would like all politicians to be fully engaged in whatever they do. Take the case of my friend Ramsahok. He is fully committed in his political work, or maybe it is his hobby, but he plays it according to the rules. Though at times he is an independent politician, at other times he is with the MMM or with the Labour Party, or with some other party. So what? Provided he is in politics and we can say that he is a politician.
In my opinion, apart from the Labour Party and the MMM, the future of our eventual politicians is not to be found elsewhere. This is an unfortunate situation as we come to the conclusion that a third political force cannot come into being.
For the next general election, we shall have the Labour Party-PMSD-Guimbeau Coalition on the one hand and the MMM on the other. Maybe the MSM will be left in the lurch. I cannot see the MMM giving 50% of the tickets to the MSM. If this matter will come to fruition as the MMM thinks, then its electorate will desert the party and the MMM will be the great loser. Paul Berenger thinks that he has done what he should have done to separate the MSM from the Labour Party, both parties deriving their support from the Hindu community, and he did it in such a manner that those two parties will not come again together. So he thinks. And he thinks that a divided Hindu community will make it easy for him to win the next general election.
The MSM has never fought a general election on its own. Will it do it this time?
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A SECOND POINT: The work of a journalist is not free from risks, which run from the physical to security of employment, to facing criminal cases.
A journalist by the name of Darlmah Naeck has written an article that caused a part of the General Population to be very angry, so much so that they have given declarations to the Police authorities with the idea that the journalist be prosecuted for allegedly having committed criminal offences.
When the hue and cry was raised, I looked for the article to find out what has caused so many persons to be so angry. I am not here to judge anybody nor any organization and in other circumstances I would not have been interested in such an article but perforce I read the article. I have three matters to raise, not to deepen the divide but to know what has caused the anger, to understand both sides better.
First, is the factual part of the article true? Or is it a tissue of lies? If it is not true, the author must be prosecuted and the severest punishment must be inflicted on him. If what he has written is true, then what is the complaint of the members of the General Population?
Second, I agree that no person should speak or write knowingly anything that may cause others to take offence. This applies to lies, but should it apply to truths as well? Intellectually, there might be problems. How far can you go in preventing someone to speak the truth? Remember, there is only one Truth, and it cannot be divided.
Third, our country enjoys all manners of freedom but this does not mean that we can speak or write anything that comes in our mind. The laws are there to protect society and everybody must be careful. Mauritians are a very sensitive lot, especially when it comes to their religion, their racial traits, their culture and I do not know what else.
I have read the article in question carefully. I would like someone to tell me which part or parts are not true, perhaps then I would have a better understanding.
We know that we enjoy freedom of speech more than in some other countries, but how far can freedom of speech go? What is reasonably acceptable in our country? This is an eminently debatable question. Do or can most Mauritians understand an intellectual and civilized debate? I wonder.
There is one sentence in the article that I fail to understand. I would like the writer to give some explanation to enlighten us. The sentence is “Le Cavadee est dédié au Dieu Tamoul Muruga”. Tamil is not a religion, the religion is Hinduism based on the Vedas and expounded among others in the Puranas. The religious language of all the Hindus is Sanskrit. What is the relation between Shiva. Parvati, Ganesh and Muruga also known as Kartikey? Just as Hindi or Telugu or Marathi are only languages and not the religion. Some persons in Mauritius use the languages as the religion of the Hindus to divide the community and they have succeeded to a certain extent.
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Time for citizen committees?
A THIRD POINT: Is it not time to involve the citizens in the police duties of the authorities? Some persons have suggested that the local citizens are more conversant with the local problems hence their collaboration would be vital in solving law and order problems.
Take the case of Quatre Bornes. The police cannot cope with all the problems that fall within their responsibilities. The most obvious is traffic. How long does it take for a vehicle to cover a distance of about two kilometers, from Candos to the roundabout near St Jean? About forty minutes. This is simply unacceptable. And the main problem here is the bad parking or double-parking where this is unauthorized. And then why are the people working in the fair allowed to park their vans where vehicles are not allowed to park? What are the police Officers of Quatre Bornes doing?
Then we have the persons who prepare and sell all types of food by the roadside. The people of Quatre Bornes do not want St Jean road to be another Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Street of Port Louis fame. Why is it that the Police tolerate their presence in the streets of Quatre Bornes?
I am not saying that the police officers should be made responsible to the general public. However, the citizens do not know to whom they should address when there are problems. One citizen of Quatre Bornes wanted to talk to the Superintendent of Police to highlight the problems that the citizens face. He went to the headquarters at Rose Hill and asked a police officer at the station whether he can see the Superintendent. The officer laughed at him and told him that he should write a letter addressed to another officer telling him why he wants to see the Superintendent and after considering the letter, the matter would be referred to other officers through the hierarchy and eventually somebody will decide whether the matter is worthy for the consideration of the Superintendent. The gentleman just thanked the officer at the station because by then he was feeling fed up.
Generally, the people do not blame the officers concerned for not doing their duty. They blame the government, the Members of Parliament of the governing party because the members of the opposition say that they are in the opposition and they have no power whatsoever. Most of the blame goes to the ministers, and the Prime Minister is blamed in no uncertain terms.
The officers do not perform their duty as they should and the blame goes to the politicians on the government side and especially the Prime Minister. This is the reason for which I say that the citizens must be involved in the manner the police officers perform their duties.
Let a committee composed of responsible citizens be appointed and let that committee react with the Superintendent of the area and other senior officers at regular intervals. Let the committee act as the watchdog and let the shortcomings of the police officers be brought to light. I am not saying that the officers would be responsible to the committee or to the individual members.
* Published in print edition on 25 August 2012