LEX

Points to Ponder

Remake: To be or not to be?

A FIRST POINT: During a meeting of the MSM’s Regional No.7 held last Monday, Sir Anerood Jugnauth made the point that if the party were to fight the next general election alone, on its own, people would still vote for it as never before. This calls for some observations.

Sir Anerood’s doubts about the Remake’s future would suggest that there is something serious happening. Is the Remake being questioned by the MMM? My reading of the situation is that the about-to-be-made Remake will not last long. The reason is simple: Paul Bérenger cannot be sure whether the party’s followers will support the allocation of 50% of seats to the MSM, even if some of the MMM candidates were to fight the election under the banner of the MSM. There is also the big question as to whether Paul Bérenger himself is in favour of the Remake. Given the political circumstances present today — with the majority community believed to be divided as never before — it’s quite probable that the MMM leader would wish to accede to power on the strength of his own party and that too in a three-cornered fight without the support of any electoral crutches. Failing that, he will no doubt try to cut down the MSM to its proper size by allocating only some 15 tickets to it. Then only will the Remake be on.

The second observation relates to Sir Anerood’s statement that the MSM will win even if it were to go alone. Most people ascribe to the MSM a following of no more than 5% of the electorate. We would like the MSM to tell us how it’s going to score at the poll with that kind of following.

Why should women obtain any special consideration?

A SECOND POINT: Mauritians are very good when it comes to delivering moralizing lectures on any given subject and not the least with respect to political issues or even non-issues. You only have to tune in to the private radios and to listen to people waxing eloquent on their pet subjects to understand what I am saying.

The other day, I heard one person who does not seem to know a thing about diplomacy and the importance for Mauritius to be present in some international forums, criticizing the Prime Minister’s missions abroad and saying that he is wasting away so much of taxpayers’ money. Another person was saying that women should be given the opportunity to contest elections. I put to myself the obvious question as to who is preventing women from putting up a political party of their own. Joining politics is after all their birthright, isn’t it?

Incidentally, I do not subscribe to this idea of having reserved seats for women. Tomorrow, the third gender people, different castes of the Hindu community, and so also other groupings within the Muslim community as well as from among the Creoles may come forward and claim their respective share. Doesn’t all this sound stupid? Why then should women obtain any special consideration? We are all Mauritians with equal rights and women should not be treated differently from men. If this were provided for in our Constitution or electoral laws, then only would they have had a case for a special treatment.

The new Local Government Act makes a compulsory provision to field so many women candidates, but is this clause in conformity with our Constitution? Fielding only male candidates will definitely be an offence, but what if a party were to have only female candidates in a ward: would the party be penalized? Now, what about my constitutional right to choose to vote for only male candidates, not for women?

Let us go for the best candidates, men, women or the third gender, and let the people decide.

Control of immigration is imperative

A THIRD POINT: How many foreigners are at any given time residing in Mauritius? Of course we have all the foreign workers who are legally here and the tourists who also have the right to be here for a few days. There are also those who are here on business or as advisers to government or the private sector. The others are here illegally.

There is an urgency to get those illegal immigrants out of the country as quickly as possible. We are also concerned with the foreigners who come here to stay in the country at any cost. We have read about those who have bribed some officials to get forged documents, and with the collusion of certain persons they have obtained permission to stay. And all this costs money, which those foreigners are prepared to fork out. All those involved in such shady deals must be severely punished — the bribe givers as well as the bribe takers. Those foreigners should be kicked out of the country with the caveat that they should never try to enter the country again.

Then you have those foreign workers, especially from Bangladesh who are here on a contract to work and before their contract comes to an end, they manage to get married to a Mauritian and they stay here for good. Can a foreign worker get married to a Mauritian when he is on a worker’s visa? The answer is clearly in the negative. He must declare the purpose for which he is coming here before getting a visa. Who has the responsibility to look after these matters? I think the Prime Minister’s Office must find out what is happening in all these cases. Why is it that the spouses of these Bangladeshi citizens not go to Bangladesh and settle there? Ways and means must be devised to tell the Bangladeshis that they are entitled to get married to Mauritian girls but thereafter they will have to move out. This was the law in the eighties and it should be amended to suit the circumstances, because there is an abuse of the situation.

How come the Bangladeshis get such facilities to enter the country whereas the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Chinese appear to encounter some difficulties?

Another matter that demands urgent attention is the number of foreigners who have settled down here because of the facilities that they get to buy a house and they just settle down in certain specific areas, create apartheid colonies as in South Africa and segregated ones as in Europe. I have been told that there are a few Indians, a few Chinese and a few Russians also have the right to settle down for having purchased a house. I do not know who had such an idea that encourages foreigners to take over the best parts of the country. The upsurge has been that the value of our immoveable property has shot up to untold heights and our resources have been put at the disposal of those foreigners.

It is high time for government to put a stop to this influx of immigrants, illegal or otherwise.

Trafficking of gold and other metals

A FOURTH POINT: If there is no receleur or receiver of stolen property there will be no recel or receiving of stolen property and there will be no, or practically no theft. It is well known that thieves thrive on the receivers of stolen property.

How many persons or companies have been given licences to buy what they call “old gold” or “second hand gold”? We do not have gold mines here nor is the country a centre for gold trade. If we have hundreds of duly licensed gold buyers, there must be hundreds of thousands of sellers, otherwise the buyers would have closed shop a long time ago or they would have starved. Do the Mauritians have that much gold that they need so many buyers?

Everyday, we are told of gold jewellery snatchers and there are many cases, maybe hundreds of them that are not reported. We are also told that there are gangs who operate in their dastardly business, one thief snatching an item, then passing it on to his accomplice who passes it to another and the job is done. The thieves are not caught, nor are the accomplices.

You cannot prevent women wearing their gold jewellery, so the Police must protect them. However, to do so, you will need police officers every hundred yards and this is not feasible. Means must be devised to control transactions of gold.

If somebody really wants to sell gold items that really belong to that person, let him sell it to the Bank of Mauritius. The Bank of Mauritius should have a counter where it will buy gold items at the official price and nobody will feel cheated. At the same time, the authorities will keep a tab of the movement of this precious metal.

How many persons or companies have been given licences to buy gold? And of course those gold items are not kept by the buyers; they are disposed of as quickly as possible.

In other circumstances, those dealers may continue with their business but not in the present circumstances where we have so many cases of theft of gold items. Who is the Minister responsible for approving the licences of those who buy gold items? He must do what he should and we are confident that snatching of gold jewellery will decline.

And at the same time, government must find out why iron and copper are the object of large-scale theft? We do not have iron or copper mines. How is it that we have such a flourishing metal industry?

LEX

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