2nd Year No 73
Friday – 30th December 1955
• When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it. – C. Darrow
From the Editorials
As the year began, we asked: ‘Why a fiscal committee?’ His Excellency the Governor has appointed the Committee for the purpose of reviewing all forms of taxation, both direct and indirect. Followed: ‘Tax Evasion – A Social Menace’. And then we presented our ‘Memorandum’ to Sir Christopher Cox, KCMG, Education Adviser to the Secretary of States for the Colonies. In that memorandum we drew the attention of Sir Christopher to Government’s new policy (the curtailing of school leaving age and automatic promotion), private secondary schools, state aided primary schools, French language, primary scholarship examination and the Training College.
The article of Peter Ibbotson entitled ‘Religion and Communism’ gave rise to a violent controversy and we had to comment on it to make our stand clear. Leaving religion aside, we came again to education and regarding the teaching of French we asked: ‘Is it communalism to refuse French being imposed?’ We had to emphasize that “we requested Sir Christopher to consider recommending the suppression of French as a subject for any competitive examination”. Another important question we answered was: ‘Should the Civil Service be Mauritianized? Then we denounced Le Cerneen’s shocking criticism of “un inspecteur des douanes d’assez mauvaise apparence”.
There were signs that secondary education was in an alarming state and we prescribed some remedies. We welcomed Major General B. Chatterjee, the new Commissioner of India. The resignation of Mr Koenig as Mayor of Port Louis gave us the opportunity of speaking about the 1953 municipal elections. While we were writing ‘Live and let live – reflection on a recent controversy’, Maj, Gen. Chatterjee was being vilified elsewhere. At the same time parliamentary privilege was undergoing a test.
Contempt of the Council was also the topic of the day and the Supreme Court had to rule that there was a difference between an ordinary and extraordinary member. When the Education Department started arranging film shows for children we were a little perturbed and asked: “Are there enough films suitable for children to be recommended by the Director of Education?” Writing on the illegal search of some nurses, we said: “Should any high-handed officer feel inclined to tamper with the person or character of anybody, let him remember that even the man in the street has civil rights to whose enjoyment he is fully entitled.”
Following the Chemin Grenier communal riot, we wrote ‘Subversive propaganda has borne fruits’. To give a fillip to production we claimed ‘More land for more production’, and to welcome the government’s 10-year electricity plan we echoed: ‘Let there be more light’. And under ‘More about The Parti Mauricien’, we observed: “First of all we prefer to call the new political party ‘The League of Minorities’.
When May Day approached we published our ‘Reflections on and Reminiscences of the Labour Party’. We had to ask whether it was due to Labour apathy that nothing was done in connection with Hindu names given to Muslim children in Mauritius Oxford English Course Book II. We alluded to Labour’s apathy again when we found that the objectionable “Short History of Mauritius” by Barnwell and Toussaint was still a textbook. We praised Hon. Chadien, who after an analysis accused the Bassin Sugar Estate for having poisoned its fodder. And later we asked: ‘Should we export molasses?’
‘Priests on Soap-Boxes’ has become a landmark in the history of our paper. It was in that editorial that we asked: “Can a priest be a politician over here?” That editorial roused the wrath of many, including NMU. And to answer NMU, we had to write ‘NMU and Our Small Self’. It was then that we said: “One day NMU will perhaps tell his readers what the soundness of an opinion has to do with the size of the paper which publishes it. ‘Our Red Letter Day’ followed. We started appearing in a larger and we asked: “Now will people who are obsessed by our size and our circulation keep at least half their mouths shut?” Then came the time to speak of ‘Constitutional Reforms’.
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Wishing ‘Bon Voyage’ to our delegation going to London to discuss constitutional reforms, we said: “Democracy being the government of the people, by the people and for the people, the representatives of the people leaving in the delegation must take good care that politics in our island finds a place henceforth for every adult citizen in its fold”. Then the Report of the Population Committee drew our attention to the ‘Problem of Population’, and the ‘Problem of Production’. In ‘Religious Co-Existence’ we emphasized: “Spires and domes and minarets have to stand side by side and adorn the Mauritian landscape.” ‘Sizing up NMU – The Propagandist’, we wrote: “Political propaganda based on fear, myths and lies will simply not work. Truth will be out and prevail in the end.”
When our Constitution had been discussed in London, we remarked: “We cannot help to get a Constitution that will be in accord with the present stage of constitutional progress of Mauritius. If it is not, the Colonial Office must be ready to receive some other delegation in the near future.” We then completed our first year and published a special number in which we wrote: “Fortified in the thought that we can contribute to the solution of some of our problems facing Mauritius, we continue our onward march.”
And subsequently we had to speak as ‘An ex-teacher to NMU’: “You have travelled a long way from those treacherous lamps you had put your destiny in once and we, on our part, have left behind impish brats and hissing black-boards. Let us forget our shameful past.”
Then there was talk of ‘Proportional Representation’, and we wrote: “In a plural community like the Mauritian community some clash is bound to arise. But is that a reason why we should not have ideological parties rather than communal ones.”
When the Public Service Commission started functioning we said: “The members of the Commission must never forget that they are the guardians of justice in the Civil Service.” Shortly after, Mr Broackway stole the show. We asked our readers to meet Mr Fenner Brockway, MP, and outlining his activities in Mauritius we wrote: “Mr Brockway’s visit to Mauritius has brought the English Parliament nearer to us more within earshot.”