Blog: MedPoint scandal - Polls of Le Matinal and l’Express on Ramgoolam and Bérenger
In his complaints to the Police CCID, PM Dr Navin Ramgoolam alleged that, by stating that he is the one who gave instructions to the Chief Government Valuer Yodhun Bissessur to carry out a second valuation of the disused Medpoint Clinic after he had met with its main shareholder Dr Krishan Malhotra, the Opposition Leader Paul Bérenger had defamed him and attempted to tarnish his “character”, “dignity” and “integrity” as PM and that his allegations are likely to provoke social unrest in the country. But the results from the online polls conducted by the two daily newspapers Le Matinal and l’Express seem to indicate otherwise.
Although polls are often suspect in terms of the way the questions are set and the methodology in selecting representative samples, in those two cases the questions are unquestionably well put. They are specific and direct, hence no bias in terms of leading questions, double-barrelled questions, and so on. Insofar as the representativeness of the two samples is concerned, no samples have been selected for the two exercises. It was up to online readers (the population) to participate and no IP address can vote twice as it will be rejected. Hence, there is randomness in those participants who have been following the MedPoint scandal and decided to vote, bearing in mind the population is much larger than the sample which voted although the population size is not known. Moreover, the two newspapers have framed the questions differently. While Le Matinal asked about what readers thought PM Ramgoolam did or did not do, l’Express asked whether readers believed Bérenger’s allegations. Ramgoolam did badly on both counts. Even the average results go hugely against him. The vast majority of readers believe that it was Ramgoolam who would have ordered the second valuation of MedPoint and consequently believe that Bérenger’s allegations are credible. Those results are very reliable indeed and are good indicators as they can be tested at high confidence levels.
Why, therefore, would the allegations of Bérenger against Ramgoolam be likely to cause social unrest as Ramgoolam alleged to the Police? Also, people do not believe Ramgoolam anyway. Should they too be investigated? Hence, Bérenger could not have defamed him in any manner whatsoever. It is the secretive and suspicious nature of the purchase of the MedPoint dormant clinic by the government, for example, the non-revealing of the responsible government politician/s who ordered the second valuation and the mystery surrounding who Dr Malhotra contacted in government to have the valuation of MedPoint revised upward from Rs75m to Rs145m which have the potential to cause social unrest in the country if those responsible do not resign, are not taken to justice and if any investigation turns out to be a whitewash.
The PM is deemed to have received regular progress reports on the developments relating to purchase of MedPoint which is to be converted to a National Geriatric Hospital and on the increased price for which it was being purchased, plus any justifications for such an increase of Rs45m. He is deemed to have asked the question why the unused medical equipment reportedly valued in the clinic’s books at around Rs2.1m in 2007-8 was being purchased at an increase price of around Rs20m. The PM is also deemed to know that it is generally government policy to purchase new rather than old and unused medical equipment to treat Mauritians, especially given that geriatrics need special types of equipment. As any responsible PM, he would have had several meetings on the project and, after the scandal broke out, he would have conducted an internal investigation to identify the parties involved and to find out whether the procedures have been properly followed. In people’s minds, the PM cannot plead ignorance since the buck stops with him. The PM is clearly affecting his credibility all by himself as those two independent polls clearly demonstrate.