Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago

2nd Year No 65

Friday – 4th November 1955

 

• Liar: One who tells an unpleasant truth. – Oliver Herford

Review

The Police loomed large on the political scene during the whole month of October, and as soon as Mr Snell announced his changes concerning the Sixth Standard Examination, the Education Department also had its share of the glare of publicity. But that is not all. The spectator who has the time and inclination to stop and stare will see a lot more.

We have chosen to given prominence to three aspects of Mauritian life, viz., the Constitution, production, and crime by shedding some light on each of them.

The Constitution

When the talks were over in London it was announced that a declaration would soon be made. But that declaration is yet keeping us waiting on tenterhooks.

Mr Fenner Brockway and Mr James Johnson raised the question in Parliament in vain. The debate revealed, however, that a Tory MP, Mr John Hay is learning the language of Le Cernéen. We wish him good luck.

Sir Hilary Blood, our former governor, still takes an interest in the Colonies. Writing in The Times — which is, by the way an honourable British pastime – Sir Hillary has advocated Proportional Representation for colonies like Mauritius. He is of opinion that a Commission should be appointed to look into the matter.

And finally from abroad we have also the opinion of Mr Richard Crossman. Writing in the Daily Mirror after paying a visit to Malta, Mr Crossman says that it is better to visit places like Mauritius with a view to bringing about the necessary changes before troubles flare up than after.

The march of time is such, we can see, that a change of our Constitution has become imperative. We cannot afford to wait as we did before from 1885 to 1948!

Even the local Government saw that there was a need for a change when they took a delegation to London. But to NMU the problem looks quite different. Writing on the 31st under the pessimistic title of “De Faiblesse en Faiblesse”, he says: “Donner l’impression qu’un changement de Constitution est nécessaire et urgent parce que le peuple de Maurice est opprimé, est manifestement à quoi tend systématiquement le groupe de progressistes subversifs dont notre pays est affligé.”

Constitutional issues like turning the voice of the representatives of the people in Council into a cry in the wilderness or denying a man his right to vote is devoid of any significance to NMU.

* * *

Production

The Mauritius Sugar News Bulletin, a London publication, has announced that our output of sugar this year is going to be 510,000 tons. The Bulletin has painted a bright picture as far as this year goes and as far as sugar is concerned. But what about our other industries?

It is reported that the tea industry is developing in a quite satisfactory manner but tobacco planters are anxious to know why Government should be so complacent about the tobacco industry.

The news concerning the sack factory is unfortunately as bitter as aloes. The Financial Secretary, who is the Chairman of the Government Sack Factory, says in his report that the future of the factory is very dim — so dim indeed that he recommends to close it down.

The export of aloe-fibre was stopped to set on foot a local industry on a big scale. Now all that is going to remain is the haunting memory of a white elephant. On the other hand, the export of molasses on a grand scale has been started by restraining the flourishing rum industry. Do we know where we are going?

Electricity production too has come into the picture. His Excellency Sir Robert Scott opened a new thermal station at Plaine Lauzun. In the course of his inaugural address he described the new venture as follows: “In the terms of the theatre, it is a first act without which the rest of the drama could neither have unity nor coherence.” We know that the whole drama is going to run for ten years but we are wondering why the first act has been called “St Louis”. Such a pious appellation for such a practical thing? One would say that it is a bounty bestowed upon Mauritius by some religious body and not a government concern.

* * *

Crime

The last Assizes session, which ended last Friday, was, it is believed, the longest in our judicial history. There were fifteen cases on the list.

In conjunction with the Police and the Parquet, the law and the law courts are doing what they can to stop the rising tide of crime. But is that enough? One of our governors, Mr Higginson, once drew the attention of the Council to the value of education as the “best prevention of crime and the surest guarantee of social order”. To education we may add faith in God and Religion – faith in spiritual values. And finally we may even add material comfort — absence of abject poverty and squalor.

Punishing a criminal is like administering drugs to a sick man: the harm has been done. But while we hear a lot about “prevention is better than cure” in the practice of medicine, next to nothing is heard about it in the practice of law.

Punishments are supposed to act as a deterrent but it seems that they seldom do have that effect. Not even the shadow of hanging by the neck is enough to prevent people from killing. Why? It is because the roots of crime go down very deep. Superficial treatments will not do. We must have recourse to radical measures: preventive first and curative afterwards. Physical restraint and even torture may be necessary but it is essential to see to it that no mind is sick and no soul sinful.

May we end on a practical note. In the eradication of crime, the exhibition of films that are full of sex, violence and bloodshed as well as the sale of unlimited quantity of drinks cannot be overlooked.

* Published in print edition on 29 July 2016

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