Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago – 3rd Year – No 93 – Friday 18th May 1956
On Monday will take place the by-election in Port Louis. It is an important by-election as it will give some indication of how the land lies.
It is the by-election for the seat of Guy Rozemont. It was the seat occupied by Rozemont for eight years. It was the seat so ably occupied by the President of the Labour Party. It is but proper that out of deference for the memory of Guy Rozemont this seat should go to a member of the Labour Party.
It would be a really sad day if it is otherwise. To vote any other than a Labourite is to betray the departed leader who had worked so hard to raise the prestige of the average man in Mauritius.
Dr Dupre is a retired government official and a member of the Executive Council of the Labour party. For very many years he was a radiologist of the government and in that capacity he had served the public. Before Dr Dupre took up his medical degree, he had worked as an artisan at Glasgow and there he learnt to handle a hammer. Dr Dupre has always shown understanding and sympathy for the working classes.
After all, when a person stands on behalf of a Party, one votes for the principles of the Party. The principles of the Party are the same the world over. Mr Brockway M.P. openly associated with our movement here and was convinced that the Mauritius Labour Party was running on right lines. We are ourselves convinced that it has a fairly large number of persons of ability and devotion and they are all working for the salvation of the country.
To send Dr Dupre would only mean that the public approves of the principles and leadership of the Party.
The Parti Mauricien has not come forward with a sound programme for the welfare of the poorer sections of the population. It has so far talked too roundly and has repeated in the press and in meetings things that are patent with the stand of the conservatives. Nothing that has so far been put forward as programme by the Party has convinced the people who can see through the game.
The by-election is a straight fight between the Labour Party and Le Parti Mauricien. The other candidates do not count for much and they will fail to attract the people.
We are now in the very throes of constitutional talks. The strength of the Labour Party will once more be demonstrated at the polls. Now that the proposals for proportional representation have been passed by the votes of the officials, it is the duty of the people to strengthen the hands of the Labour Party.
We shall therefore do our duty if on Monday the friends, readers and sympathisers of the Mauritius Times were to throw their weight on the side of this Party to reject at the polls what the officials and nominees have passed in the Legislative Council. Every well-wisher of this country should make it a duty to exercise his or her vote to make the ideals of the Party triumph.
We are confident that the vote in Council on Tuesday will give a new impetus to the by-election and the people will be able to undo what unrepresentative people have tried to do in council. It is a unique opportunity for the people to show solidarity and strength.
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Has P.R. Come To Stay?
The motion of the acting Colonial Secretary has been carried by 15 votes to 14. This slender majority of one vote has set the people thinking. And what a majority! The three ex-officio members had to vote on that all-important and so controversial issue. Is the verdict of the Council an echo of the voice of the people?
There have been long and hot debates on the constitutional proposals of the Secretary of State. What have the debates shown if not that the majority of the elected members of the council are against the proposals? But the voice of the real representatives of the people has to be drowned for the survival of democracy in this island!
When the council has to take a decision on a major issue, it becomes quite clear to what extent the composition of the present legislature is defective. It was to set matters right that a delegation went to London. And now that very defective legislature has come to the conclusion that matters should be set right in a particular way. Is it not a mockery of democracy?
If the Secretary of State and Government had made up their minds to give P.R., we think that the Council has been wasting its time discussing the proposals. And we are inclined to think that they had made up their minds. If they hadn’t, why should the officials have voted?
Now that Government has made it clear that it wants P.R., it remains to be seen what will be the move of the Secretary of State. We have been given the guarantee in London that nothing will be thrust upon us. Will the Secretary of State go against the will of the majority of the people? His is a very grave decision to take. In order to please a handful of men living in a neurotic state because of an imaginary fear, will the Secretary of State immolate the wish of the real representatives of the people?
Let the Parti Mauricien and those who sided with it hang out flags and let off fireworks. Some form of entertainment will help relieve their tension. Let them sing the song of victory if they like. But let them remember that they won’t have peace. They have murdered the fate of this generation and perhaps of generations to come. How an earth will they sleep the sleep of the just?
The Labour party has fought with dignity and with courage. It is not beaten because of its intrinsic weakness. It has been beaten, on the contrary, because its strength inspired an unforeseen coalition. The Labour Party can keep its head high as long as it stands for its ideals. We hope the party will refuse to acknowledge defeat and oppose P.R. to the bitter end.
And finally, a word about Mauritius Times. We have been honoured by being quoted at different stages of the debates. No matter what some honourable members think of us, we are determined to hit back. If they find us guilty, we hope they will have the fairness of finding us guilty under provocation.
* Published in print edition on 15 December 2017