Points to Ponder
Politics and Journalism
A First Point: I had always thought that that our journalists are serious minded people, intellectually honest, well read, giving intellectual credit where it is due and having some respect for truth in their profession. It is the right, and I’ll go further and say that it is the duty, of every serious journalist to inform the readers about what is happening on the political front. You have two types of journalists: those who write about what is happening and those who comment on the events. The first type gives you the naked facts and those who read what such journalists write normally believe them on the premise that such journalists write truthfully about these events. As for those who comment on the news, they usually base their comments on the facts as outlined by the other type of journalists.
But unfortunately, I was disenchanted last week. The news stories and comments on the yet-to-be or not-to-be alliance between the Labour Party and the MMM, as reported by the supposedly “independent” press, that is those people in the press who call themselves independent, and the supposed private radio stations have demonstrated the scant regard they have for the truth.
Those newspapers and those private radio stations made as if a Labour Party-MMM alliance had already been concluded, and went on to report and pass comments on what each party would have obtained in terms of electoral tickets and their respective roles in the next government. Where did those supposed journalists get their facts from? Not from the leader of the Labour Party Navin Ramgoolam nor from the Secretary General Deva Virahsawmy. Neither from the leader of the MMM Paul Bérenger nor from the Secretary General Rajesh Bhagwan. Who therefore was feeding them with false news? Are they not supposed to verify and counter-verify whatever goes into print in their so-called “independent” papers? Was it just wishful thinking turned into fact by some curious case of mass-hypnotism? What’s the agenda of those supposed independent journalists? It is clear that they are not in favour of the Alliance Sociale. Nor do they want to see an alliance between the Alliance Sociale and theMSM come up. They are all for the MMM and they know that Bérenger’s only hope of getting back to power is through a Labour Party-MMM alliance. Though they cannot bear the presence of the Alliance Sociale, yet they are prepared to make do with the Labour Party if only for that alliance, that being the only way to bring Bérenger back into a government.
The day it will dawn upon them that a Labour Party-MMM alliance is not in the pipeline, we will see them coming out hammer and tongs against the Labour Party. Until that happens, the Labour Party will be portrayed in their columns and radio broadcasts in a favourable light, even as the perfect party.
What is Dinesh Ramjuttun up to?
A Second Point: I have been told that Dinesh Ramjuttun met Paul Bérenger and he said that in the present circumstances, he is withdrawing, though one is not clear from what exactly.. It seems that he is withdrawing from politics and from the MMM because of the remarks against him made be Paul Bérenger.
Apparently, Dinesh Ramjuttun was critical of the Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam and surprisingly, Paul Bérenger did not appreciate the language used by his colleague who was detailed to fight Navin Ramgoolam in his own constituency. What did Paul Bérenger say to Dinesh Ramjuttun? I know that the latter is thick skinned enough to accept a lot of criticisms from political adversaries, and I expect that he can accept likewise from his friends as well. But Paul Bérenger must have said things that he could not accept and so his decision to withdraw from politics and from the party.
Paul Bérenger himself said that Ramjuttun is not a member of the MMM, nor a member of any “instance” thereof, but that he would be a candidate of the MMM-UN-MMSD. How can he be a candidate in an MMM-led alliance without being in any party? Could Paul Bérenger explain?
We know that many in the MMM cannot stand the presence of Dinesh Ramjuttun and the more so that he was to be fielded as a candidate of the party for the forthcoming general election. Now that he will not be around, that will be one less thorn in the flesh of the MMM, the members will be happy that they will not have to explain and justify his presence on their platform, and above all, Sham Mathura will feel that his place as a candidate is safe in the constituency of Pamplemousses-Triolet.
It’s obvious why Paul Bérenger is so keen to have an alliance with Navin Ramgoolam and the Labour Party. He has said that if there will be any other alliance, “si pou enan ene l’autre l’alliance, pays pour divisé en deux, pour enan communalisme. Si ça l’alliance la pas abouti, MMM pour oblige alle tout seul.”
Is Paul Bérenger, the leader of the opposition, so desperate that he is ready to sacrifice Dinesh Ramjuttun to try to please Navin Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister? We must remember that at a certain moment, Dinesh Ramjuttun had said that he would share the prime ministership with the same Paul Bérenger and now he is treated with such contempt. He is not accepted because he has criticized the Prime Minister! Should Paul Bérenger side with his brother in the same alliance or with his political adversary? That is the question.
However, I am concerned with what Paul Bérenger has said. He says that if there would be another alliance, meaning an alliance between the Alliance Sociale and the MSM, the monster of will rise its ugly head and the country itself will be divided into two separate blocs. Does Paul Bérenger mean to say that half of the population is with him and half with the Alliance Sociale and Navin Ramgoolam? I hear people talking of the minority communities getting together again and that the Muslim community and the General Population are getting close to Paul Bérenger.
So I’ll put a very relevant question here. Is it the contention of Paul Bérenger that he in fact is the leader of the Muslim community and that Rashid Beebeejaun and the other Muslim Members of Parliament do not represent the community? Is it his contention that he can defend the rights of the Muslim community better than Rashid Beebeejaun and the others? And in these days does he mean to say that there is no Muslim worthy to speak in the name of the community? But does he remember what happened during the last general election?
And the same reasoning applies when we talk of the General Population and of the PMSD. Am I to understand that Xavier Duval and the other members of the community who are Members of Parliament do not represent that community at all and that that community is represented by Paul Bérenger? I am surprised.
But above all, what is the role of Navin Ramgoolam the Prime Minister? Has he any role to play in the welfare of the Muslim community and the General Population? So far as I know, he maintains equidistance from all communities. So many people of the Muslim community accepted that Navin Ramgoolam followed by Beebeejaun are their leaders and so many people of the General Population say the same thing about Navin Ramgoolam and Xavier Duval. How is it that, and on what evidence do Paul Bérenger and a few others, say that if there will not be an alliance between the Alliance Sociale and the MMM, there will be communalism and the country will be divided in two?
Which parties will be in an alliance is not our concern at the moment. However, we can say that both the MSM and the MMM are keen for an alliance with the Labour Party. But I would like to put a question to the three leaders, Navin Ramgoolam, Paul Bérenger and Pravind Jugnauth. In whose interest would it be if a particular community is kept divided? Who does not want to see the Hindu Community united, politically speaking?
Prison sentence for holidaying and recreation
A Third Point: It looks like the Prime Minister has now decided to introduce or re-introduce the death penalty for certain types of offences. I fully agree with him. Those who are scared that some innocent persons might be convicted on some trumped charge, or that there might be some judicial error, I am sure that with modern techniques of gathering evidence and the facilities available, there cannot be judicial errors. And there is the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council to hear the cases on appeal.
There is another matter that has to be looked into as a complement to the death penalty. I have written several times on this point. This concerns a prison sentence. At the moment, such a sentence is not considered as a sentence at all by the prisoners themselves, but rather as a time and place for holidaying and recreation. The prisoner takes his rest, he is served his breakfast, then his lunch, then his tea and finally his dinner. During all this on time, the prisoner gets a balanced diet, he is given his fruits, his meat, fish and the choicest vegetables. And you call this a prison sentence?
Relatives and friends visit the prisoner regularly and quite a number of prisoners are given forbidden things in the course of those visits. The relatives of the prisoners are given a pension, and this lasts so long as the person is in prison.
This is a matter that is not acceptable to most Mauritians. What should be done according to most Mauritians? First of all, all the human rights of prisoners should be suspended for the duration of the sentence. Cancel all visits. The prisoners should be made to work for their keep, and those who would not work would not be given any food. It is as simple as that.
And also, every person who has caused any harm to another or to a company, to a corporation or to the government, must make good to the full value of the harm or loss, even if it takes a lifetime for that.
At the end of the day, there will be very few inmates in the prisons, but a prison sentence will be a real prison sentence. Less and less crimes will be committed, the Courts will have some respite and citizens and tourists will feel safe in the country. Those who want to know more should consult my previous articles on this point.
The public is not getting value for its money
A Fourth Point: I am interested with what ACIM and Jayen Chellum are doing because they function with our money. Last week, the secretary of the ACIM said that the price of our beloved tomatoes has more than doubled and he said that this is not fair. Well we all know this and we cannot find any solution to bring the price down.
Does Jayen Chellum and his people spend our money just to tell us what we all know or should he find out the solutions to bring down the price of tomatoes? I am asking him what solution does he have? To start with, does he think that there is a legal solution, that he is ready to enter a case against all those who are making undue profits on our tomatoes? If he does not have a solution, is he and his people pocketing our money for doing nothing?
Hunger strike is no solution for any problem nor are slow moving vehicles. I would not have written on this point if public money would not have been involved. The public is not getting value for its money. So my advice to Jayen Chellum is very simple, and that is not to take any public money.