Constitution or State repression? Time for good sense to prevail

There is a saying that ‘it is never too late.’ Perhaps we could make that ‘it is never too early’ – for a 2.0 version of L’Alliance Lepep?

Whether we like it or not – and this concerns especially those who are in power – there is a generalized feeling of ‘sour taste’ that is prevailing in the country as a direct result of the actions taken by the power apparatus beginning shortly after the Vire Mam electoral victory of December 10, 2014.

There is no doubt that this victory represented a mandate for bringing about change in the country – positive change according to the winning Alliance’s manifesto, with a promise of carrying out a grand nettoyage. The electorate, in handing over the reins of power to the new dispensation, agreed with this broad objective, and even jubilated with the holders of power when what they qualified as the alleged Ponzi scheme of the BAI and the nexus with the outgoing government were exposed and unravelled.

However, what they didn’t bargain for were the methods of pursuing this objective which have been much in display as the months have rolled by. As the number of enquiries have multiplied like successive sparks in a gunpowder trail, the manner of proceeding seems to have degenerated into what increasingly is being likened to ‘State repression’ by certain observers – with the President of the Bar Council Mr Antoine Domingue not mincing his words about likeliness to a police state or even dictatorship!

The BAI saga has uncovered a Pandora’s box that that has threatened the livelihoods of many families, while at the same time leaving in limbo many customers in, for example, the Bramer Asset scheme who, despite official ‘reassurances’, are still not convinced about the eventual outcomes. On the other hand, the forays into other matters, such as the Cooperative Society of Vacoas and, more recently, the agreement with Jin Fei regarding Domaine Les Pailles, are giving rise to contradictions that are unsettling the employees. Thus, they are querying why when it concerns a private company – BAI Group – government is taking over and guaranteeing employment to the staff, whereas for a State-owned one, there is no similar arrangement. What is the rationale for this differential treatment? Which, to anyone, sounds perfectly logical and reasonable.

As is bound to be, it is news that concerns government actions that always dominate the national headlines, and the platforms of access to such information are so varied and multifarious that its widespread dissemination impacts citizens directly. As a result, a sense of paranoia can so easily take hold, and completely overshadows whatever ‘good’ measures are being simultaneously taken by the very same government. Everything becomes tainted with the same suspicion that is driving the grand nettoyage agenda. Excesses either way, good or bad, eventually sour, however noble the initial intentions. Needless to say, they do no good to the image of the country, not to speak of that of the government and more specifically of certain of its branches and the officers concerned, like the Police.

As noted above, the methods being resorted to are not resonating with the expectations of the people, who are disturbed – even if spuriously — by the heavy-handedness involved. In the matter of the DPP Satyajit Boolell, several experts have pointed to the section (93) in the Constitution which provides for an accepted and civilized approach in any issue where clarifications or explanations from the holder of that office may be needed.

It does not include making unannounced and improper landings at unearthly hours, as has been the case – not only with regard to the DPP but also in other cases. What democracy or respect of democratic principles are we talking about then?

The Vire Mam is beginning to smell more of scores settling than actually putting things right, and of respecting institutions or the dignity of offices or their holders under the Constitution. But more fundamentally, it is simply about human dignity – can’t we see that?

No doubt the retort would be that the previous dispensation acted likewise: that’s precisely the point. Having demarcated itself electorally through the massive mandate, why does the new dispensation have to sink to the lower levels of batte redé?

Why not rise above and show that there is truly new blood around, which intends to rigorously follow and protect Constitutional and institutional propriety? Isn’t that more likely to gain points rather than showing that one can be even more violent?

And if guidance were needed, there is nothing like turning to and heeding those who walk the world stage with heads held high and whose track record leads them to tender freely their advice and views about the human condition.

One such is the Burmese freedom fighter Aung San Suu Ki, whose essay ‘Freedom from Fear’ that was reproduced in last week’s issue of this paper should act like a wake-up call to all of us, especially those in power. The following extracts are most relevant to our current situation:

‘The quintessential revolution is that of the spirit. Born of an intellectual conviction of the need for change in those mental attitudes and values which shape the course of a nation’s development. A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions… has little chance of genuine success. Without a revolution of the spirit, the forces which produced the iniquities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration. It is not enough merely to call for freedom, democracy and human rights. There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear.’ (italics added)

So, are we going to persist with the iniquities of the old order – ‘du pareil au même’ – and threat? Or will good sense take over in the name of enduring truths, resisting to be driven by ill will and a re-invention of the way of conducting the affairs of State? There is a saying that ‘it is never too late.’ Perhaps we could make that ‘it is never too early’ – for a 2.0 version of L’Alliance Lepep? Pausing awhile, taking stock of ground realities and feelings, and setting sail in fresh waters? Here’s really hoping for good sense to prevail.

* Published in print edition on 31 July 2015

An Appeal

Dear Reader

65 years ago Mauritius Times was founded with a resolve to fight for justice and fairness and the advancement of the public good. It has never deviated from this principle no matter how daunting the challenges and how costly the price it has had to pay at different times of our history.

With print journalism struggling to keep afloat due to falling advertising revenues and the wide availability of free sources of information, it is crucially important for the Mauritius Times to survive and prosper. We can only continue doing it with the support of our readers.

The best way you can support our efforts is to take a subscription or by making a recurring donation through a Standing Order to our non-profit Foundation.
Thank you.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *