«I want the salaries of La Sentinelle staff» :  «No, Minister Gayan!»

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Anil Gayan’s column appeared from January 2012 to May 2014.

Anil Gayan’s columns appeared from January 2012 to May 2014.

Letter from Minister Gayan

Dear Nad,

I notice that you keep writing as a journalist who is holier-than-thou and you are omniscient and you also seem to have no qualms about giving lectures and lessons.

That is fine as far as freedom of journalism is concerned but I am concerned about the vitriolic expressions you hurl at me and the ML week after week.

Since you and La Sentinelle pose as the guardians of good governance and morality I would be grateful if you could let me have all information about the salaries, perks, terms and conditions of the staff as well as all their academic qualifications.

I would appreciate a reply by return of mail and I hope you will be generous enough and gracious not to hide behind the cloak of a company which deals with private funds.

That argument does not and cannot hold in view of the high moral ground that you claim.

Kind regards,

Anil GAYAN

Minister

OUR REPLY

Dear Minister Gayan,

Re: Your email of 9th May above, under the presumptuous heading: “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION”.

Since Freedom of Information is a concept that usually embodies access to meaningful public information for citizens at large, your email and my reply thereto are being published.

I would therefore point out to you that:

(i) It is indeed the duty of an opinion leader to speak his mind openly, forcefully and without fear or favour. It is fortunate that you agree as you, yourself, must have been a tad «holier than thou», «vitriolic» and «omniscient» when you were writing your columns in l’express until the end of 2014 (see below for a few meaningful extracts), when it became clear that you were going to join politics and start practising anything but what you had been preaching. I am glad that you admit that democracy is about meritocracy, transparency and good governance, not about rewarding cronies, grovelers, yes-men and boot-lickers.

(ii) Your reasoning to the effect that «since La Sentinelle pose as the guardians of good governance and morality” (a truism!), we should therefore communicate to you “...all the information about the salaries, perks, terms and condition of staff, as well as their academic qualifications ” is rather preposterous!

For your kind information,

(a) I work for a private company where everyone’s salary is treated with the discretion it deserves. I therefore cannot and do not propose to make public any salary and conditions of work of my colleagues at La Sentinelle.

(b) I have, nonetheless, no problem revealing my own salary – since that is what you seem to be interested in. I earn Rs 142,000. There! Now, it’s public!

La Sentinelle Ltd regroups 650 employees and, as you know for having been paid from the same kitty, only some 195 of them are in the «media» section (printed press, magazines, editing and digital). The Director of Publications draws the top salary of the media section.

(c) We remain, like most of those who voted for the government you are part of, very eager to see a meaningful Freedom of Information Act being voted as promised on page 43, third  bullet point of your Electoral Manifesto entitled: «Gouverner pour le peuple, avec le  peuple». We would therefore appreciate if you could let us know when this piece of legislation will be rolled out as it is on the basis of those grand promises that your government and yourself were elected. We would also be interested to know when you intend, for the sake of transparency, to submit to the EOC/EOT to clear your name in relation to the flagrant nepotism you are being accused of.

Best always,

Nad SIVARAMEN

Director of Publications

A few quotes of Anil Gayan while he was writing the column

“Only in Mauritius” in l’express:

16 January 2012:

“What one needs is neutrality of all public officers who serve the Government of the day, of whatever political colour the Government is. This is the very essence of public service. Any other attempt is an attempt to attack the foundation of the public service.”

24 January 2012:

“The lack of transparency is unhealthy. Let us hope that at least those Directors who hold public office will rise to the occasion and force disclosure. By the way, the lady from the PMO had to wear the inescapable red sari for the occasion just like all male ministers who invariably wear red colour ties.”

27 January 2014:

“Mauritius can go on claiming that the Rule of Law exists and that there is equal opportunity for all. Rubbish one is tempted to say. We have missed opportunities to make this country a shining example of meritocracy and excellence. Mediocrity and non-observance of the legitimate rights of the deserving have reduced us to a system where what prevails and wins the day is ‘roderboutocracy’.”

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