Touria Prayag's Blog

l’express Weekly 23 March 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on March 23, 2012

The margoz republic

If ever there were a prize for the best performance of how to turn a
crisis into a disaster, then the two nominees would defi nitely be the
attorney general and the president of the republic. And, judging from
the comments in the room that fateful Wednesday, the jury is still out
about who deserves it most.

The opening of the conference on ‘The media: where do we draw the
line?’ at the Intercontinental Hotel was a moment of great embarrassment
for the country. First, the attorney general walks in later than the president
in breach of all required protocol. He then addresses everyone in the room
except the one he should have addressed fi rst: the president of the republic.
After enumerating all the excesses of the Jugnauth government as far as
stymying media freedom was concerned, he dashes out of the room before
the latter even begins to deliver his speech!

The president of the republic, on the other hand, goes into a prepared
diatribe against the government – his government since he is a still sitting
president – and openly criticizes its media policy in very virulent terms:
“The MBC has become an instrument of political propaganda in the
hands of and under the control of the government,” he said, to an audience
of stupefi ed international lawyers and media professionals.
The question here is not about opinions and who has the right to
hold them. We are not saying that the president is wrong to hold the
same opinions everyone else arguably holds. The MBC has always taken
its marching orders from government house. SAJ will perhaps recall
his humorous utterance when faced with the criticism that his speech
was being aired on all the channels available at the same time: “Pa mo fot
sa. Mo innocent ladan!” (It is not my fault. I am an innocent bystander).

The question is not about Yatin Varma not being allowed to think that a
president who deserves decorum should begin by showing some. We
all know that the president has already gone into the political arena and
that whether he is waiting for his new luxury car, his birthday or some
other event of similar ‘national’ interest before he leaves, his days in
the State House are numbered. The issue really is that, irrespective of
what we think about the person, we owe respect to the position he holds
and so does he. And, an international forum is certainly not meant for
settling scores between those holding the highest offi ces in the state.

The image of the banana republic thus portrayed was immediately picked
up by the main speaker, Geoffrey Robertson, who, tongue-in-cheek, referred
to the Newspaper and Periodicals Act enacted in 1984, “by the then prime
minister, now president and who, I hear, may become prime minister again!”
A banana republic is too sweet a term for us. Perhaps we should call
ourselves, “The margoz republic”. And for those who still have enough
appetite for another helping of margoz, just look at our representatives.
The race for recruiting MPs is full swing and everyone is at it. One might
perhaps wonder whether our political parties have not turned into sects!
The more you recruit, the higher you climb. Between those courting
and those enjoying the courtship, one MP sums up the situation for us:
“ We flirt around but we won’t sleep with anyone else!” Anyone for some
more margoz?


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