Blog: Freedom stops at My Nose
When we listen to what is said on radio on current issues, when we read some newspapers and hear statements of some politicians, the impression we get is that the country is on the brink of disintegration. It makes me wonder whether some journalists read, understand, mean what they write and gauge the impact on the common reader. The same applies to politicians and some radio journalists.
In the pre-independence era, highly educated journalists and politicians commanding a vast audience were successful in poisoning and intoxicating the minds of people on the issue of freedom. It was our good fortune that most of them made honorable amends and participated in nation building.
Independence brought a constitution which guaranteed the freedom of expression and human rights and democracy. People have used fully their democratic rights and freedom. They have regularly changed governments through the ballot box. An interesting feature of our democracy is that the ruling party has organised elections to lose all seats. All parties today claim to be national parties with the objective of serving the people.
But I have seen nothing like what is taking place today. A vast campaign based on misinformation, half truth, perceptions and blowing out of proportion "faits divers", with the intention of destabilising the government and diverting the attention from real issues.
Today when global recovery is faltering, when not only recession is being predicted, but there is a real danger of economic contraction in the US and Europe posing a real risk to our economic development and our future, what are the real issues we are talking about in this country?
A simple issue like the Medpoint scandal made six ministers resign and the junior partner of the government MSM crossed the floor to join the opposition. They are seeing only scandals and corruptions everywhere. Instead of congratulating ICAC for initiating an investigation on the Medpoint transaction, even the President of the Republic is on record with "Icac pe fané". A whole propaganda is going on saying that both ICAC and police are politically motivated.
We must feel proud that our institutions, against all odds, are functioning. ICAC has arrested the former Minister of Health, the former Minister of Finance and several high officials and charged them of either gratification for a third party or conflict of interest.
On a complaint made by the Prime Minister against the leader of the opposition for spreading false news, the Leader of the Opposition had personally given statements to the police and ICAC. He revealed that Dr. Joomaye, a member of his party is the person who had told him that former Minister Soodhun was the source of his information. Both Dr. Joomaye and Soodhun have been arrested and released on bail. As all those who have been arrested by ICAC. It is now for the DPP to decide whether to prosecute them or not, and for the court to decide whether they are guilty or not. Everybody says that they have full faith in the independence of our judiciary.
Since the MSM has left the government, its leaders are accusing ICAC of partiality because ICAC has not questioned Minister Rajesh Jeetah and DPM Rashid Beebeejaun under warning. Rajesh Jeetah has made his position very clear in a radio debate with former Minister Maya Hanoomanjee. As Minister of Health before her, he had initiated government policy of having a geriatric hospital. Tender documents were prepared and tenders floated.
Unfortunately the bidder who won the tender did not comply with tender specifications, the price was doubled on revaluation and the Finance Minister personally approved the allocation of funds. The bidder happened to be the brother-in-law of the then Finance Minister, Pravind Jugnauth. As Siddharta Hawoldar, senior lawyer has put it: nobody however powerful is above the law.
Then why is the media and the politicians poisoning and intoxicating the minds of the population? Do they have a hidden agenda?
Dr. Beebeejaun has invested in a company which had invested in the Medpoint clinic as a tiny shareholder. No small shareholder runs the company; the management and the directors do so. By speaking half truth, some are trying just to say that the ministers are corrupt.
The latest issues are the blowing up of the private statement of PPS Khamajeet, the appointment of Balraj Naroo as CEB Board president and the approval given by Minister Faugoo for the sale of two small portions of Rose Belle sugar estate lands. What's new and so horrible that Khamajeet had said which all politicians do not say some time or other? Supporters expect their representatives to help them get jobs. His reply was just a comfort. How can MPs influence the PSC? It is just a myth. They are just guilty of entertaining the myth in a bid to retain their supporters. Broadcast of his private conversations was an invasion of privacy. We should beware we are all in danger of being victims.
Is it conceivable that teachers, clerks, politicians, nurses – the bulk of civil service – are appointed on the recommendation and under the influence of politicians from the ruling parties? Then how come known supporters from opposition get appointed by the PSC thus creating frustration among supporters of ruling parties?
Politicians do make recommendations and canvass for their supporters among members of appointment committees of parastatal bodies and appointment committees of ministries who had PSC delegated powers to appoint minor grades. Nobody will appoint anybody if they do not possess the required qualifications. Does equal opportunity and justice mean that supporters of ruling parties should be excluded from jobs? We do not have a perfect system. But we have a civil service which is impartial, loyal to the government of the day and delivers within the set parameters. Anybody who feels that he is a victim can go to court and challenge the PSC. On a number of cases, the court has reversed the decision of the PSC.
I still remember the case of former Minister Ashock Jugnauth. He had given jobs to minor grade workers. He lost his seat on being condemned by the Supreme Court and the Privy Council on a charge of corruption and electoral bribery. Pravind Jugnauth, with the help of Labour, defeated him, both in a by-election and the general election. Does he remember what he has said on his uncle Ashock during the campaign? Is he afraid of a similar campaign against him and suffering a similar fate and being condemned and rejected by the public?
I do not understand the misinformation campaign against Satish Faugoo. First the media announced that there will be shortage of potatoes in January and now highlighting his approval of the sale of a small portion of land. I believe all this campaign is just a conspiracy to paralyse the government machinery, discourage the ministers, and slow down decision-making thus affecting the development of the country.
In the end, the problem is simple. Some people do not see the vast programme of modernisation taking place around the country. They do not see the roads, hospitals, schools shopping centers, high rise buildings coming off the grounds. There is still a continuous rate of growth in our economy. Jobs are still being created. Unlike the Euro zone debt crisis, our debt is still manageable and under control.
Freedom of expression being guaranteed, does this mean that some have the freedom to hurt the country and the interests of the people. I would just say that their freedom stops at my nose.