Touria Prayag's Blog

The tail wagging the dog 16 January 2014

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on January 23, 2015

The distinctive aroma of reconciliation has
been wafting through from the Treasury
building after a week-long media orgy where
various publications had to grind out endless
stories about whether Finance Minister Xavier
Duval would stay with his coalition partner
or leave government. As the country limps
back into business as usual, all the speculations
are swatted with the line we so expected: The
minister of fi nance did not mean to challenge
or blackmail the prime minister and the latter
is very happy to work with the former and he
had no intention of wooing his ally’s members
into his party. The Labour Party Secretary
General Kalyanee Juggoo – after causing so
much damage and shooting her mouth off as
only she is capable of doing – seized the opportunity
to declare her love for Xavier Duval.
So, move along. Nothing to see here.
No one can match the prime minister’s and
his minister of fi nance’s repertoire of artful
brush-offs. However, these meticulously crafted
pseudo-denials do stand the test of credibility
because, if you analyze the events prior to
the meeting of the two leaders of the coalition
properly, there isn’t a single statement uttered
by Duval to suggest that he was leaving the
government. He smiled through the intense
courtship period by the opposition without
giving any inclination as to where his heart
stood. Basking in the euphoria of being desired,
he said nothing, did nothing. Why
should he? By keeping his mouth shut, he
entertained the ambiguity, nourished the
nascent hope of an even more unnatural possible
alliance and thus kept the opposition off
his back for the whole budget discussions.
What a feat!
Even in the Michael Sik Yuen episode,
Duval’s statements were measured and ambiguous
enough to accommodate a possible
face-saving brush-off if necessary. Rumours
that he may have asked for seven investitures
from the Remake remained just that – rumours.
If he did ask for that many, it meant he
wasn’t taking the whole issue seriously in the
fi rst place. The PMSD does not have seven
people to fi eld even if Duval included those
who were associated with the drug dealer
Cindy Legallant, those who are out on bail
and those who drink their cough mixture on
the rocks! So all in all, Duval came out of this
whole saga pretty much unscathed while the
opposition – shooting from the hip – lost its
shirt and showed the extent to which it was
prepared to go to get to power. Paul Bérenger
has to lie low for a long time before we forget
the despair he has displayed.
The most worrying part about this whole
episode is coming to terms with the realisation
– yet again – of how much power tiny parties
wield when coalitions become a hotchpotch of
the most insane combinations to steal our vote.
For a party with a generous 2% following, two
elected members, one best loser and one worst
loser, the party has not done too badly at all.
Two ministers and two private parliamentary
secretaries! As for the MSM with less than 4%
support, the 50-50 mandate they have managed
to negotiate is stunning. Half-way
through the mandate at best, we are likely to
witness the same scenario of the tail wagging
the dog.
So, how much decision-making power do
we as voters have and how much power do
those who negotiate on our behalf for their
own selfi sh interest have? How much of that
power do they give to the parties few of us vote
for? The answer to that question is a terrible
verdict on our democracy.


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