1982 Unpatriotic Agreement. The Infamous Sale of Diego

Carnet Hebdo

An Act of Treason, one might shout on rooftops. Most of us have been outraged and still are by the unsuccessful attempts of our various representatives including Ilois spokespersons to get back Diego as an integral part of Mauritian territory.

Back in 1967 our elders were focussed on the country’s accession to Independence while others were fighting like devils with the full support of the sugar oligarchy to prevent the colony from becoming independent. In the process, little public attention was paid to the removal of people from Chagos Archipelago after November 1965 and the lease of the territory to the United States to set up a military base. In the years following Independence, the issue of underdevelopment was the country’s main preoccupation. The forced exile of the Ilois was not raised in the press nor in public debates.

For about two decades during which Mauritius has acquired prosperity and gained self-confidence, Ilois representatives, the far-left group Lalit and part of the political class have insistently claimed the return of Chagos as part of the national territory and drawn world attention to the issue. Today, most of us who were too young in 1967 and others who were not born yet, fume and bristle at the pre-Independence negotiations which surrendered the Chagos to the UK-US pact and blame the erstwhile leaders for their weakness.

Have we been fooled all along? How come the 1982 government ratified the pre-Independence negotiation by accepting payment from the UK for the loss of Chagos? A document circulating on the Net specifies that the UK-Mauritius Ilois Claims Agreement signed at Port Louis on July 7, 1982 whereby £ 4 million payment was given to the government for ‘promoting social and economic welfare of the Ilois and the Ilois community in Mauritius‘. A Board of Trustees was set up to ensure that the capital of £ 4 million be solely disbursed for the benefit of the Ilois.

Article 4 of the Agreement states that the Ilois should abandon all claims to return to the pre-1965 situation in the Archipelago – ‘ The Government of Mauritius shall use its best endeavours to procure from each member of the Ilois community in Mauritius a signed renunciation of the claims referred to in Article 2 of this Agreement, and shall hold such renunciations of claims at the disposal of the Government of the United Kingdom.’

In Port Louis 7th July 1982 the Agreement was signed by Jean Claude de l’Estrac for the Government of Mauritius and J. Allan for the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The questions that blow our mind are: Have the Ilois signed any renunciation? How has the capital of £4 million been used? How on earth can we go on claiming Chagos back on an international platform and the return of Chagossians to their island given that the 1982 government agreed to their preclusion from returning to the Chagos Archipelago?

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Efficiency at the workplace

This is currently a big issue in the topsy-turvy world we are living in. Either a whole generation of spoilt children hailing from nuclear families, who have been raised to think of themselves first, are doing jobs with a could-not-care-less attitude. Or there is something terribly wrong in the tertiary educational system that delivers diplomas and degrees to them after a few years’ study.

It is happening in advanced countries with a long tradition of efficiency at work. The more they learn the less they know. From two-year diploma holders to seven-year specialists, inefficiency at the workplace is getting more and more widespread. Ordinary salesmen and salesgirls who are given specific tasks in department stores and sprawling hardware shops or are selling high-tech electronic products, have minimum information to give customers on what they are selling; they hardly know what they are talking about when pressed with questions. With insufficient or faulty training, ‘qualified’ workers deliver less and less. In offices, banks or in front of computers, some of them are more interested in checking their messages every five minutes than attending to customers. The train accident in Paris last year and the bus which fell off a mountain road into a gorge in India were due to the drivers speaking on their mobile phones.

France is well known for its rigorous medical training of doctors and specialists. Yet, serious errors in surgery are commonplace. Some surgeons are in a hurry to finish operations because they are impatient to play a tennis match or to go back home, for instance, while others forget instruments in patients’ bodies. Not only do patients worry about dubious hygienic conditions in hospitals but they also have to inquire deeply about the efficiency of surgeons.

Eye specialists using the same devices come to totally different conclusions; one delivers an alarming diagnosis, whereas his colleague says ‘ok, everything is normal, nothing to worry about’. Others, young and older ones alike, are known for prescribing aggressive overdoses of medication to treat serious diseases as if they were at war with the imbalance that deteriorates patients’ health. Probably something to do with attitudes towards the human body or plain lack of holistic medical knowledge. In developing countries, stories about inefficiency causing death have gone round for decades though, alongside, major headway has been made in the health sector.

Accuracy in pay slips, bank accounts or mobile phone charges cannot always be taken for granted. We guess that news anchormen on TV just read out news half understanding what they are talking about. But we rest assured that bridges we are driving on remain solid and airplane pilots know their jobs.

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Yours to enjoy…

Okay, instead of electoral campaign poor media show which, anyway, gives little choice to the Aam Aadmi of Mauritius, let us suggest some quality entertainment stuff. Some of last year’s best films:

– Swedish film ‘The Hunt’

– Moroccan-Belgian production ‘Les Chevaux de Dieu’

– Israeli film ‘L’Attentat’, based on Algerian writer Yasmina Kadra’s novel

– French producers: Michel Ozon ‘Dans la Maison’, and Alain Renais ‘Vous n’avez encore rien vu’

– Roman Polanski’s ‘Venus in Furs’.

The best one is undeniably that of Hong Kong internationally acknowledged cult director Wong Kar Wai for his unique style, ‘The Grandmaster’. A masterpiece.


* Published in print edition on 16 January 2014

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