Points to Ponder

MMM Politics

A First Point:  

Politics is moving at a very slow pace due no doubt to the passing away of James Burty David as well as the usual festive mood that has gripped Mauritians with the New Year a few days away. Anyway, let us see what we have been able to gather in the past few days.


The MMM has already moved one candidate from the constituency of Beau Bassin-Petite Riviere to Port Louis North-Montagne Longue for reasons yet unknown. This candidate is one Jenny Mootialoo, apparently a long-time follower of Paul Bérenger and the MMM. It seems that she owes her selection as an MMM candidate for the general election due to her family’s long association with the Party and for reasons of gender. According to me, neither of these reasons is good enough to qualify somebody to represent a constituency. What should do so, in my view, is the desire and the capacity to serve the people and look after the constituency. Jenny Mootialoo says that she is not familiar with the constituency she is being called upon to represent unlike Beau Bassin-Petite Riviere where she has been politically active. Why has she been transferred to some unknown territory? Anyway, Pradeep Jeeha, Joe Lesjongard and Jenny Mootialoo are the would-be MMM candidates for the forthcoming general election – that is, as at to date.

What about Beau Bassin-Petite Riviere? Rajesh Bhagwan will no doubt defend the MMM flag in that constituency. Maybe Franco Quirin will be another candidate. What about the third one? I have been told that Shekar Naidu would have exercised some covert pressure for an MMM ticket in that constituency, on the strength of the undertaking given to him by the Party that he would be made to stand as candidate in the same constituency where he was elected earlier — that would apparently explain his joining the MMM. Later we were told that Jenny Mootialoo had been chosen as the candidate! How could that be? Ultimately, the MMM had no choice than to shift the latter to constituency no. 4 – to the immense satisfaction of Shekar Naidu. Or would a Sino-Mauritian candidate be preferred to him? The leader moves in mysterious ways.

Elsewhere, that is in constituency no 5 Pamplemousses-Triolet, the three candidates chosen by the MMM are Anil Seeruttun, Sam Mathura and lately Dr Dinesh Ramjuttun. Have they been chosen for good for this constituency? I wonder, because I have been told that Sam Mathura and Dinesh Ramjuttun cannot stand in the same constituency — for reasons unknown to me.

Anil Seeruttun has been a long-time follower of the MMM, and it is but reasonable that he should stand as candidate in Pamplemousses-Triolet. But insofar as Sam Mathura is concerned, that’s a different kettle of fish. We know that he was keen to stand as a Labour Party candidate for the last general election, but he could not be accommodated by the LP. He is now on the MMM bandwagon – not long enough though to deserve an MMM ticket. Who will do justice to those so many genuine MMM members who have stood by and for the Party, especially its leader Paul Bérenger,for so long?

And what about Dr Dinesh Ramjuttun? For how many years has the good doctor been a follower of the MMM and of Paul Bérenger? So far as I know, he is a new convert. But then the question is whether any of the three MMM candidates can pull enough weight to face the three Alliance Sociale candidates? And what if the MSM were to join the Alliance Sociale? But I am sure that the MMM has yet to finalise its list of candidates for that constituency.

This reminds me of our good friend and ex-Minister of External Affairs Hon Madun Dulloo, who until recently looked like having a very bright future with the Alliance Sociale until he behaved the way he did and very soon found himself out of government and of the Alliance Sociale. Maybe he also had been told that he had the potential to be the Prime Minister of this country, and he was prodded to cross the floor and he is now nowhere to be seen. We wish we knew for sure if he had indeed been chosen and promised to be the MMM’s prime ministerial candidate. By whom? For how long? For a full term of five years? For half a term? For a few months? The question now is whether Madun Dulloo stands any chance of getting himself elected? Maybe he thinks that he has a slim chance to scrape through. The result might be surprising. People are asking why, in the name of politics, has he given up a winning position for one that will lead him to nowhere?

As for Dr Dinesh Ramjuttun, he had said that he would be sharing the post of Prime Minister with Paul Bérenger, maybe for two and a half years. Has he also been taken for a long ride in the same manner as Madun Dulloo? What are his chances of getting enough votes to come even in the third place? I do not know. Only time will tell.

Will Dr Dinesh Ramjuttun and Sam Mathura be both given tickets in constituency no. 5? That is difficult to believe. However in politics, especially in Mauritian politics, you can never know whether it’s worthwhile to think logically and coherently. Better then to stop thinking when it comes to politics.

Now we move on to constituency no. 14 Savanne- Rivière Noire. The MMM has chosen a woman candidate for this constituency: Marie Josique Radegonde. She is well qualified and she comes from the region. She seems to be a good candidate for the constituency.

The other political parties are presently keeping a low profile. Neither the Alliance Sociale nor the MSM is making any serious moves. The other very small parties and the minus parties are equally lying low – very much to our displeasure Maybe the WIN, that is the Women In Networking, is trying to set afoot a political party of sorts with the help of some honorary women. Or are they only hoping to pose as a pressure group and no more? I do not know, but I have a feeling that some of the WIN-crowd were last seen in that same party that was floated by some women just before the last general election. They came, smiled and fought the election, winning a couple of votes and thereafter disbanded the party. Maybe I am mistaken, I am not sure. If the WIN is really a pressure group, then its only policy is to attempt to influence government policy and not to take the place of government.


Educate the parents

A Second Point: We have been told that most pupils in our education system have, and they come to school with, a cell phone. This applies to secondary school children as well as most of the pupils at the primary level. Why it is so I do not know, maybe because of peer pressure, maybe parents have too much money and they show all others that they can afford to buy a cell phone just as the well-off parents do, maybe they want their children to communicate with them at any time of the day, there may be so many reasons.

In so far as I am concerned, those parents are not doing any good to their children. The question that should be answered is whether a cell phone is essential for the pupils in their studies? If the answer is yes, in what way?

I have spoken to a few teachers and their unanimous opinion is that the cell phone is a hindrance rather than a help to the youngsters in their studies. They say that cell phones should be banned from the school premises for all students. And I agree with the teachers.

What is the opinion of the authorities, of the officers at the Ministry of Education and above all, of the Minister of Education, Dr Vasant Bunwaree? In several countries, cell phones have been simply banned for all students below 16 years old. This makes good sense. This point should be debated at the level of the National Assembly, the Cabinet and at every school. Maybe then a decision could be taken either way. Would the Ministry of Education start the debate and give its own point of view?

Still on education. I have been told that the Bureau de l’Education Catholique (BEC) is now taking very seriously the role of parents in the education of their children. I have always said that generally the Hindus, the Muslims and the Sino-Mauritians spend a lot of time and money on the education of their children, because they believe that the only way to come out of the miserable situation in which they find themselves is through education. And quite a number of them have been able to make remarkable progress.

At what price? Those parents have not known what holidays mean, they have worked everyday of the year. They have not spent their hard-earned money on merry-making; they have not bought the latest gadgets, rather they have spent their money on the tuition of their children. They have spent their time in accompanying their children to and from school and also to and from tuition. And in many cases, the children have given satisfaction to the parents. And this happened in spite of the fact that many of the children were from a Bhojpuri-speaking or a Chinese-speaking background. You can imagine how difficult it must have been for those children to study French as well as English when they had never spoken even Creole.

Parents, especially those who are not that much concerned with the education of their children, should be sensitized about the importance of education. There must be classes for them and they must attend those classes. If the Catholic Church has decided to teach the parents, so much the better. As they say, better late than never.

Let us hope that the BEC will succeed in its undertaking and that the Ministry of Education will follow what the BEC is trying to do in this sphere.


Prisons: Will the authorities act?

A Third Point: Prison Officers are being attacked by some criminals. The reasons for the attacks are not known yet, but it seems that they are attacked in connection with their job, and in such circumstances, it is but natural to suppose that the persons behind those attacks have been some prisoners or ex-prisoners.

These Prison Officers have been doing their job to the best of their ability, which is not to the liking of some prisoners or even of a few prison officers themselves. It is the duty of the Police Force to protect these Prison Officers, but we know how difficult it is to assure the protection of every person doing a risky job. It is virtually impossible to do so, in Mauritius or in any other country.

What should be done in these circumstances? Should we ask for some organization to help the Prison Officers in time of need? I am sure that the members of such organizations would gladly help those who feel that they are under threat. In the course of the week, two Prison Officers have suffered at the hands of criminals. One is Assistant Superintendent of Prisons Omrahoo who resides in Quatre Bornes and the other is Officer Antish Bokhoree residing in Curepipe.

ASP Omrahoo has his wrist nearly chopped off and the house of Officer Bokhoree has been stoned with the apparent aim of instilling fear in him and in his near and dear relatives. I am sure that the organization I have in mind is aware that these officers are in need of protection and they are ready to assume their responsibility, unless the police authorities would act swiftly.

Why are we tolerating such behaviour of some criminals? As I said last week, according to the authorities, a prison sentence as currently implemented is not intended as punishment for a crime; this element of punishment is missing and we can say that nobody is scared to go to prison. A prisoner in our prisons gets a far better treatment than he gets at home. And the more so, there is no stigma in undergoing a prison sentence. The criminals feel free to do whatever they want, some people are there to fight for them. Damn such people I would say. Those responsible for human rights fight for the prisoners rather than for the victims of the prisoners. And you think you can get the reaction of the authorities? You can wait for ever but there will be no reaction. As if the authorities are also siding with the prisoners. They even seem to be on the same wavelength as the members of the opposition. The decision rests with the people, does it not?


Good governance

A Fourth Point: We have heard that one person has been promoted to the post of Manager in a State company with effect from 14 December 2009. He had been earmarked for early appointment to the department that looks after risks and allied matters. The vacancy to the post relating to risks and allied matters was advertised internally, I am told. However, the person for whom the post was earmarked and who is the protégé of some VIP failed to attend the interview because he found out that others far more qualified than himself had also applied for the post.

There were others who could aspire to the post but they did not apply because, they said, the post was earmarked for this man and they would just be wasting their time. An interview was conducted but it seems that that post was kept on hold. The reason seems to be that others were far more qualified than the person earmarked for the job but because that man could not get the job that State company initially decided not to fill the post.

Now that person has been appointed to another post, a post which was not advertised, not even internally, and all employees are concerned about the methodology employed to appoint certain persons chosen by some. Who is the person who protects him? Has the protector gone for the best candidate in the circumstances? It seems that somebody is trying to shield certain persons for reasons best known to themselves.

What about the Board of that State company? Are all the members, starting from the Chairman down to the lowest member, incapable of assuring that the best practice be followed in the appointment and promotion of the their employees? They are paid to do their job, isn’t it?

Now I can understand the feeling of those who do not enjoy the protection of those who matter and I feel sorry for them. I think they have already alerted the Prime Minister’s Office with this scandalous matter.


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