The Flood of Discontent

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

First, let us express our most heartfelt sympathy to the aggrieved families who have lost their dear ones in a most tragic and unexpected flooding in the capital. Our prayers go to the victims who left their homes and could not foresee that heavy rains pouring down would trap and drown them to death, separating them forever from their loved ones.

Judging from the millions spent on infrastructure, we would like to think that a thorough risk-evaluation survey had been undertaken and an effective water evacuation system in Port Louis put in place by the right technological expertise during the construction period in the surroundings of the harbour.

No need to be an expert to know that the disappearance of land under too much concrete poses serious water evacuation problems in the long run. The obstruction of the Pouce River, allowed by the town authorities, to relocate street hawkers and for parking areas, besides being an eyesore, is a blatant example of how other motivations override environmental issues in policy making. The recent tragic event can be imputed to amateurism and chaotic management that characterize growing ‘development’ in the country.

Let us also give moral support to the Opposition leader, Mr Paul Bérenger, who is undergoing treatment for cancer in Paris. Anyone who has had a close relative suffering from cancer knows what an ordeal patients go through for this disease. We extend our support to his family and hope Mr Bérenger will recover quickly.

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Voice of Mauritius (Abroad)

Judging from opinions expressed in press columns, Mauritians have suddenly become admirable. The encomium showered on them for their spontaneous help and solidarity is a far cry from the expletives they are subject to in online comments. What a respite! Generally, Mauritians are vilified and cursed all year round for casting their votes in the wrong box at the previous general elections. Mauritian expats living in Australia, France, England, Canada, the USA and elsewhere do not miss a single opportunity to heap negative epithets on the good people of Mauritius in online media comments every time press headlines here arouse criticisms.

If anything, our compatriots abroad as well as some of our local commentators find it difficult to show restraint in their writings and their views are replete with obvious communalist undertones. Or maybe they think that the poison distilled in their prose will go unnoticed. Any sensible person endowed with an average sense of criticism is able to read between the lines and make the difference between constructive criticisms and biased observations targeting specific ethnic groups.

Arguably, the embers of the pre-1968 anti-Independence movement are still glowing under the greyish veneer of Mauritianism and are more often than not rekindled to spit out venomous fire in press comments. One could presume that such missiles aimed at the ‘backward’ people of this country seem to be the occasional distractions for expats who are having to put up with the harsh cold weather in Europe, Canada and elsewhere. A series of events that have hogged the headlines for the past few months has brought new fuel to their winter of discontent.

45 years after Independence we should be mature enough to debate over sensitive issues in a rational manner as responsible adults without censorship, unless we accept being treated as children by some people who hijack the right to patronize our ideas and thoughts.

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Erroneous amalgam

It is high time to denounce the erroneous amalgam which leads some people to equate the government with the Hindu community. As a result, growing resentment against the government’s perceived wrongdoings is dangerously slipping towards the marginalisation of Hindus in various spheres of work.

In Triolet, the fact that out of 30 licenses delivered to taxi drivers only 4 of the beneficiaries are Hindus is being perceived as a deliberate anti-Hindu discrimination in favour of minority ethnic vote bank politics. The same profiling in recruitment is allegedly said to have taken place at the Customs in Port-Louis harbour. Given the key role played by the harbour in the control of drugs and illegal weapons and the corruption track record that has characterized its functioning for quite some time in the past, there is cause for concern over the shameless self-enrichment out of drug traffic and for the security of the public.

Some hardware shop owners boast about not paying taxes for containers of imported goods thanks to the intervention of politicians, which enable them to sell their goods at a cheaper — thus more competitive – price on the market. This sort of favour coupled with unscrupulous enrichment out of drug traffic makes the beneficiaries generous donors during electoral campaigns. Politicians are invited to eat briyani during pre-election campaign in such closed circles. One of those campaign donors, deeply involved in enrichment by dishonest means, received an end-of-the-year award some years back for so-called social work!!!

On new year’s eve, a 20-year old young man hailing from the minority of newly rich circles speeding on the road in the new Rs 1,5m sports car missed a turn at a roundabout in the North, crashed into wooden barriers, broke a lamp post and bumped into a fruit stall opposite, which was closed but where the owner was sleeping. She was seen limping on the scene the morning after. The young fellow was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol in the company of other young men and women. It would appear that they all disappeared after the accident, and political intervention put an end to the police case.

What further evidence do you need to illustrate your point when all this is happening next door? Just as it was no secret for anyone living in the same area when SSR came a couple of times to your own house, decades ago, and your parents did not expect any reward for political support. In the course of time, disillusionment and a disastrous economic situation put an end to political obedience of any hue.

Today the need is to stand for justice and fairness and to denounce a surreptitious discriminatory policy gaining ground. We are also informed how such discrimination prevails in the hotel and tourism sectors and in trade and industry. Discrimination translates into non-recruitment, dismissal or chances of promotion being thwarted in favour of the mountain-monkey protectionist policy.

It should be clear that ordinary Hindus just as the average Mauritian simply seek to earn a living for themselves and their families. They have nothing to do with lobbies, free masonry or political patronage, and they should not be perceived as scapegoats for governmental action or inaction. So, spare them the overdose of pre-1967 venom.

* Published in print edition on 5 April 2013

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