Touria Prayag's Blog

Public people, private lives

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on January 19, 2013

When Bill Clinton’s story with Monica Lewinski went public, the press in the US had a field day. It is their culture that, as an American journalist summed it up in our pages a few weeks ago, “In America, if you are a public figure, your life is open to scrutiny.” When the Anglo-Saxon press unveiled François Mitterrand’s double life, the French, on the other hand, were outraged at what they considered an invasion of the private life of a public figure. Over here, we have always had the sense that what goes
on in people’s lives or in the lives of those who are willing to trade their favours is none of our business whether these people are private or public figures. It still is not.

So, let’s first get rid of the fallacy that the debate which has been raging on here and which has earned us a gagging order is about private lives or some sort of morbid curiosity. It is even less a debate about feminism. If some newborn feminists see in it a way to interrupt their boredom, good for them. But it is not a feminist issue.

Then, let’s all be grateful for one thing here: the fact that government coalitions do break up. How else would all the dirt and the shady deals the powerful connive to clinch behind our backs ever get out of their secretive offices? Now that the MSM and the Labour party are no longer in bed together, we are slowly but surely learning things we were never supposed to be privy to.

Of course, no one is gullible enough to believe that anything that is happening now on either side of our ‘august assembly’ is done in the interest of anyone but that of the little selves we have elected to supposedly protect our interests. No one believes that there is an ounce of altruism in the action of the cheap movie we are being subjected to. Nobody believes that the alleged juicy contracts being denounced were suddenly discovered by Pravind Jugnauth on his way to the police headquarters. No one believes that the allegations of pedophilia only came to his knowledge the day he gave the interview to Top FM. And we believe even less that it is principle which has driven Sheila Bappoo to hot foot her way to the CCID to denounce Pravind Jugnauth for the allegations he made against her. There has been no love lost between her and the Jugnauths since the day Jugnauth senior, with his usual ‘elegance’ called her ‘poutou rassi’ (untranslatable). So we are witnessing an awful lot of acrimony, vindictiveness and score settling.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that some very serious allegations have been made and apparently supported by disconcertingly detailed evidence. Allegations involving the misuse of public funds; allegations of favouritism; allegations of pedophilia which no society can casually dismiss. And, Pravind Jugnauth was unwittingly – thank goodness for human obtuseness – given the opportunity to bring everything out into the public domain. We are absolutely not interested in why or who or when. While trying to bear in mind the motivations behind the allegations being made and, while we agree that minors should never have been roped into a debate they have nothing to do with, one simple question begs an answer: are these allegations founded or not? If they are, should the press be deprived of its obligation to its readers – that of informing them.

Any methods used to stand in the way of that are unacceptable in any democracy.


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