Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 17 December 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on December 17, 2010

Pdf weekly 16

Grand corruption:
a glimmer of hope?

Anti-Corruption Day, celebrated last week, triggered
vigorous debate about the level of corruption in this
country. If some indulged in self-satisfaction about
Mauritius being ranked second in Africa, 80% of our
online survey respondents expressed the view that even the middling
score we received is undeservedly too good. Who can blame
them: the only people who have ever been convicted are the petty
corrupt. Not a single high profile case has been successfully prosecuted
and two come to mind: the MCB/NPF and the Air Mauritius
cases. In both, there is prima facie evidence. And in both,
supposedly bad health gets in the way of justice.
The announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions
of the resumption of the case against Tirvengadum was received
with welcome relief. Relief that maybe there is but one justice for
all in this country. The single thing to retain about Raj Bunsgraz’s
fly-by passage at Air Mauritius is the way he unwittingly, some
would say serendipitously for the cause of justice, woke up sleeping
dogs, albeit allegedly sick ones. He paid a heavy price for it. Tirvengadum’s
miraculously sudden recovery from a progressively
degenerative disease is a unique chance this country has of reversing
a perception which is rife that there exist double standards in
the justice system of this country, one for the rich, powerful and
famous, and another one for the common people. The former
can afford to pay the hefty fees of an armada of celebrity lawyers
to ensure that they are able to walk out (and in some famously
theatrical cases, be pushed out on a stretcher) of the court room
free, their alleged crimes unpunished, whilst the full force of the
justice system is meted out to the latter for what is often petty
corruption in comparison. All eyes, and hopes, are now therefore
pinned on the medical profession and the judiciary. What they
decide to do in the case against Tirvengadum might raise this
country’s Corruption Index score closer to the enviable level of
Singapore overnight. There is, therefore, a glimmer of hope.
We have no doubt that, in the interest of justice, the court requires
a very high standard of evidence to exempt suspects from
attending trial. However, in high profile cases, perception is as important
as reality and in this case, people may rightly or wrongly,
have the perception that some private doctors may do anything
for money and public service doctors take orders from their ministry
and are answerable to the government of the day so they
may not be really perceived as being independent.
To show total transparency and reassure the population that
there is no jiggering, the DPP might decide to call on a panel of
eminent foreign doctors, who can be trusted to act without fear
or favour, to offer their expert judgment on Tirvengadum’s fitness
to face trial. For the record, in the Kaya case, we had recourse to
foreign expertise and the population felt all the better for it.
In a country where the perception of corruption is so high and
where we often have good reason to have faith in the integrity and
competence of select foreigners, such a respected medical panel
would send a strong signal to the nation that the powers that be
really mean business in exposing and punishing acts of corruption,
big or small, regardless of the standing of the perpetrators.

 

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