Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Renga At the Blackboard

To explain the mess proportional representation (PR) would throw Mauritius into after the Labour Party feared that the Governor would impose it. We’re in the first half of 1956 at the Port-Louis theatre or about two years before Seeneevassen passes away, Guy Rozemont had just died and the movement against PR is gaining steam. Dupré, the LP candidate, wins the by-election in the capital with 52% of the votes and this buries PR for good. So writes Sada Reddi in his 2000 biography of Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo, the longest-serving Finance Minster of independent Mauritius, its first President and who would have been 100 today. 

SVR has been unjustly painted as an incompetent Finance Minister (FM) of an incompetent government that had brought the country to its knees. The current economic contraction, forty years after the last one and when Ringadoo was Minister of Finance, will likely cast a more objective light on his performance. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Doctor Who Gave Elephant Dose to Mosquito Fired

Seriously, a mosquito checks into a hospital because it’s not happy with its trademark hum and without doing any examination the doctor gives it the same giant injection of god knows what she administered to a hippo a few hours earlier. This has sent the poor insect into a deep coma and caused an inquiry to be carried out. It turns out that the doctor does this to every patient, big and small, that visits the medical institution. The regular complimentary invitations to seminars organised by Big Pharma in posh locations may explain why an identical dose is applied each time. 

It’s not any different from the proposal of nominating 20 PR seats after each general election to correct any seat/vote share imbalance. Why would you use 20 MPs irrespective of whether you have a 60-2, 41-21 or 30-32? There’s no good reason especially when we know that this will create two types of political instability and blunt our democracy by preventing voters from keeping that many politicians out of parliament. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Pope’s Warning Turns One

Francis visited us exactly a year today and celebrated a wonderful mass in honour of Father Laval in Port-Louis. Later in the day he told a gathering of the civil society and the authorities to move away from the idolatrous economy we had been worshipping (understand by this speculative FDI, record inequality, national problems not solved, not enough regard for the environment and a degraded public health system because trickle down economics had made government run out of money).

Twelve months later, how much of this common sense has been heeded?

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Only Thing Left For Ramgoolam to Do

He scrapped our progressive and sustainable taxation system in 2006 for an ultra-regressive flat tax which has almost bankrupted Mauritius and created massive inequality

He then tried to add a dose of proportional representation – worst thing for a Labourite to do – to our excellent FPTP system in 2014 which would have created chronic political instability and throw accountability away. Let’s not forget his wicked scheme of a semi-presidential system which would have added another big layer of problem at the top of the country. Just think of shop-till-drop AGF with more powers in 2018 or the tussle in 2012.  

Which makes him pretty much like one of the anti-independence PMSD people who also spewed out some very racist slogans like the one above (We don’t want Hindus!) in the run-up to the 1967 general election. While Mr. Ramgoolam hasn’t made any such statements yet he did tell a very derogatory story about Hindus (katora) during the 2019 general election which made him lose the latter and his seat for the second straight time. So it would be a last natural and easy step for the 73-year-old plutocrat to end a disastrous political career. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Three Things to Make National Anthem Ring Truer

 1. Outlaw door-to-door religious proselytism. Freedom of religion includes freedom not be regularly harassed by groups of people of varying size trying to convert you. Religious belief should essentially be a private matter and a good indication of the absence of any hidden agendas is religious groups growing at roughly the same rate. This hasn’t been the case. Plus a citizen should not be allowed to change her religion before she’s 21.

2. Freeze foreign real estate speculation. Prices should be determined by local purchasing power of Mauritians and not by those of the wealthiest foreigners. Especially when we have a serious housing problem in the republic. We can add banning deproclamation of public beaches here.

3. Recall elections and a couple of other tools appended to our electoral system so we can get rid of lousy MPs between general elections. This will keep them on their toes, improving governance.