Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 25 February 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 25, 2011

Read l’express weekly 25 february,2011

From ideology to personality

Any entity which lasts for 75 years deserves our full respect.
When a political party lasts that long and is in
power, there is a lot to celebrate. Congratulations then
to the Labour Party on an anniversary celebrated in a
grand style but without too much wallowing in nostalgia or personality
cult. The tribute paid to the founding fathers of the party
was justifi ed and, on the whole, measured.
It is undeniable that the party has left an indelible footprint in
every aspect of the history of this country and it still is a major force
to be reckoned with in today’s Mauritius. But a celebration is not
restricted to reminiscing about the past. It is also about refl ecting on
the present and looking into the future. To claim that the present Labour
Party has not deviated from its original ideology is not entirely
supported by facts. The ideology on which the party was founded has
defi nitely moved towards more economic pragmatism, involving
a range of measures verging, some might say, on neo-liberalism.
Free market policies such as the removal of trade barriers, barriers
to the infl ow and outfl ow of capital, the Stimulus Package and the
Economic Restructuring and Competitiveness Programme, the fl at
corporate tax rate to mention only a few cannot, by any yard stick,
be qualifi ed as socialist in nature. To be fair, though, moderating its
left wing instincts, instead of indulging them, has allowed the party
to adapt to the period of history we are in. Face it. Rhetoric aside,
the model offered by political parties today is the same right across
the spectrum.
The main difference between parties now is not one of ideology
but of personality, an area in which Navin Ramgoolam has a defi –
nite advantage. This should not lead to any degree of complacency,
though, as there are a number of perceptions now associated with
the Labour Party and (perhaps particularly) its allies which its leader
would be wrong not to seize this occasion to refl ect upon. And
worry about. If I were Navin Ramgoolam, I’d worry about the perception
of cronyism, abuse of power and lack of ethics created by
some of the people close to me. I’d worry about the lack of accountability
which seems to be rampant around me. I’d worry about my
friends rather than my perceived enemies. I’d worry about some parasites
in my government and parastatals who are draining the state
coffers and standing in the front line for all the privileges, leaving
only frustration behind. I’d worry about those who are shamelessly
placing their friends and relatives on a number of boards creating a
breed of useless, professionally worthless, people who make a living
simply through sitting on various boards. I’d worry about the silence
of those who have something to get rather than about the verbosity
of those who have nothing to gain. I’d worry less about the press. A
healthy, even antagonistic, press is essential in any vibrant democracy.
An independent free press is one of the main differences between
us and Egypt, Tunisia and some parts of the Middle East. Anger
expressed in newspaper columns is less likely to be expressed in
Tahrir Square or the Place d’Armes. Come to think of it, it is partly
thanks to our big mouths that Navin Ramgoolam enjoys peace while
in power. You’re welcome. And many happy returns.

L’express Weekly, 18 February 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 18, 2011

L’express weekly 4 February 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 4, 2011

L’express Weekly,28 January 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 1, 2011

28.01.11

Incestuous Mauritius

The Prime minister’s fruitful visit to Reunion with the
agreements he has managed to secure could have grabbed
all the headlines this week. Instead, it was drowned
in the murky waters of what has been baptized “the
scandal of the century”.
And it’s all so incestuous. The minister of Finance, son of the
president of the Republic, proposes to sell his family clinic, which no
one has had any use for for the last ten years, to the government he
represents. His cousin, the minister of Health, agrees with him and
he is happy to sign the cheque to himself and his relatives in time.
The Capital Gains Tax which he reintroduced himself was, coincidentally,
not in force yet. In a unique press exercise called a “press
statement”, meaning the minister engages in a monologue and the
journalists shut up, and in a fashion reminiscent of the Tudor Court,
Her Royal Highness the minister of Health decreed that her cousin
had followed the procedures and that MedPoint was the best value
for money for the country.
Who cares whether the procedures were followed or not? In
banana republics, procedures can be bent backwards to achieve
almost anything. Who even cares whether it is the best value for money
or not? What is of concern to us is public morality and ethics. Is
signing a cheque to oneself on behalf of all of us ethical and morally
acceptable? Questions which will never be answered because Her
Royal Highness “decided” that they should not be asked.
And this disturbing trend did not start yesterday. The Sun Trust
was not built yesterday. The money for letting it out to the government
that the owners represented was not pocketed yesterday and
the contract which made the cancellation of the deal as profi table
as the deal itself was not drafted yesterday.
It is obvious that ethics do not exactly fi gure top of the list of many
politicians and that the language we speak is alien to them. It is equally
obvious that if the citizens themselves are unwilling to truly take their
gloves off and demand some decorum and a sense of ethics from
our leaders, we will continue to grow bananas for the rest of our days.
Until then, let’s congratulate ourselves for being the proud
owners of a dilapidated clinic resuscitated from bankruptcy and
oblivion, symptomatic perhaps of the state we will be in when we
need to use it. Let’s also take this opportunity to welcome Mr. Muni
Krishna Reddy to the helm of the State Bank, a position which we
will have to eat less rice and lentils to continue to pay for. We also
wish Mr. Harry Tirvengadum, yesterday’s advisor to Mr. Bunsgraz
on Air Mauritius matters, a peaceful life in the midst of his
family since it is clear now that he is too sick to ever be able to face
justice. His advice has been valuable, particularly to Mr. Bunsgraz
on whose behalf we allow ourselves to thank him. We will miss his
unforgettable voice which has been softly echoing in our ears since
we heard it on Radio Plus and we trust the integrity of the doctors
who signed his medical certifi cates. In the meantime, let’s have the
death penalty reintroduced for anyone who does not belong to the
above incestuous circle. Long live justice and transparency, the hallmarks
of this country!