Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago — Where is Security?

The debate continues on Hon Bissoondoyal’s motion regarding the appointment of a Royal Commission to enquire into the Police Department. When all is said, it will be interesting to see which way the Labour cat is going to jump, because this is a motion presented by an independent member who is regarded as l’enfant terrible of our Council.

Hon Bissoondoyal’s motion has so far focused the attention of the public on the sad state of affairs in the Police Department. But that is only an index to the general state of insecurity which is prevalent nowadays throughout the island.

* * *

When a young man joins the civil service he thinks that he can live happily ever after. But it is not long before he gets the shock of his life and he realizes then that days of happiness are reserved for a few. He finds to his big surprise that promotions and scholarships do not always go to those who deserve them.

The unemployed are experiencing hardship in finding employment. We understand that some ex-servicemen who occupied high positions in the army are being driven from pillar to post. Are they the victim of discrimination? And what about the rest of the ex-servicemen? They were insecure enough in time of war but their insecurity in time of peace is no less.

There is hardly any department which can impress on its staff that it stands for justice and fair play. How can we refrain from casting doubts when we find, for example, the Labour Department inviting applications for posts from candidates not over 28? Why the arbitrary age-limit of 28, if not to give free vent to favouritism?

Last week we published a photograph showing how a road at Montagne Longue, that has been used by the public for generations has now been closed by the management of an estate. A whole village lost its right of way one fine morning! Is it conceivable?

Not very long ago a group of people had to quit their homes and hearths. They had rented plots of land from an estate, built their homes on them and were living their quiet lives. One day they got notice to quit and bull-dozers razed their dwellings to the ground. Just to satisfy the sweet will of somebody and because in Mauritius such tenants are not protected by law.

Since the Beaux Songes incident, one has to be careful while venturing into river reserves. The popular notion is that all river reserves are public property, when, in fact, such is not the case. Some time ago we received a complaint to the effect that some labourers were prevented from having their meals by a river in the district of Plaines Wilhems because the owner of the property adjoining the river would not allow it. It is high time all rivers and river reserves were made public property just as seashore. We congratulate Hon Forget for tabling a motion to that end.

* * *

The man in the office is insecure. So is the man in the field. And so are the children of both of them.

Every parent wants to send his children to school. But every school is not prepared to receive the children. How long is that state of things going to continue?

And now we are hearing about new ways of conducting the Sixth Standard Examination. Already there are signs of uneasiness. Must we let the people lose their confidence in the Education Department?

The other day Hon Koenig had to raise in Council the question of employing more teachers to teach the oriental languages in schools. When will justice be done to the mother tongue of our children?

And the children that are now attending secondary schools and colleges should not be forgotten. What is being contemplated to cope with the impending release of hundreds of young people with secondary education?

* * *

There is insecurity all around us. That is why we are asking: Where is security?

There is fear of want. There is unemployment and more will result as soon as the crop season comes to a close and other ex-servicemen return.

There is fear of unwanted children. With the increase of population it is becoming more and more difficult to give children proper food and education.

There is fear of nepotism. Government departments must be raised above suspicion. The Public Service Commission can do a lot by being vigilant.

There is fear of oppression. The Police Department must win the confidence of the people and maintain law and order. The Parquet may help.

There is fear of death itself. A bullet from the blue can hit you or some mysterious hand from nowhere can make you vanish in the thin air!

And then, there is fear of the unknown. Panic is brewing in the atmosphere. One cannot tell what form insecurity may assume next.

The civil rights and liberties of the citizen have to be safeguarded. Every worker deserves justice and fair play, and every child must feel that a bright tomorrow is his birthright. Every Mauritian’s home, like the Englishman’s, must be his castle where he can live peacefully and happily.

Then, and only then, can we stop asking: Where is security?

* Published in print edition on 27 May 2016

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