Sik Yuen and party discipline

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Was Michael Sik Yuen right or was he wrong to give the sack to Robert Desvaux in spite of his leader’s expressed wishes? The Prime minister put it down to the fact that «a minister should be able to run his ministry».

PMSD renegade Lindsay Morvan adds that «it’s a minister who answers to Parliament, not a political nominee». They may both have a point but that point is not relevant in the current debate. The fact of the matter is that Michael Sik Yuen is a member of the PMSD, was granted a ticket to run for elections by his party’s leader, Xavier Duval and was eventually appointed minister as part of the PMSD quota with regard to the allocation of ministerial portfolios.

It’s important to keep in mind the fact that Sik Yuen entered Parliament on false pretences- i.e by claiming he belonged to the General Population group for the purposes of the Best Loser System and then conveniently converted to being a member of the Sino Mauritian community when the time came to appoint a «Sino Mauritian» minister. Irrelevant though this may be to the current debate, it explains Sik Yuen’s ruthlessness in politics and suggests that he will go far to further his ambitions.

Xavier Duval, clearly fed-up with what he plainly believes is his minister’s unreasonable behaviour told the MBC on Wednesday that he had agreed to Sik Yuen giving the sack to Tourism Authority (TA) Chairman Alain Wong «because the minister couldn’t get on with him». «Then a few days later, he comes back to see me even though he didn’t have an appointment and he wanted this time to fire Robert Desvaux, again because he didn’t get along with Desvaux».

We know the rest - Duval said no, Sik Yuen ignored him and sacked Desvaux on the spot. («He even sent a rider to Mr. Desvaux’s house to hand over the revocation letter. Just two lines and not even a thank you. After all the good work Robert Desvaux has done», lamented Duval)

Ramgoolam stressed that Sik Yuen «is the minister», suggesting that as such Sik Yuen is free to do what he wants with his ministry. Yet Ramgoolam, Prime minister though he is, is not Sik Yuen’s leader.

The principle of party discipline requires of Michael Sik Yuen that he toes the party line, however unfair such a thing might seem to him. And yet the minister of Tourism chose to disobey his leader in a spectacular fashion. And even after Xavier Duval has asked the minister to step down (It’s now Duval who is encroaching on the PM’s prerogative, giving the latter a taste of his own medicine) Sik Yuen has chosen to defy his party and has gone in hiding, the better to sulk in peace.

There are no two-ways about it if Sik Yuen doesn’t want to resign as minister, he should at the very least resign as member of the PMSD. Obviously this will lead to another crisis - will Sik Yuen join the Labour party and stay on as minister? If he does, and he is ruthless enough to do so, then Duval will have to decide for how long he will continue to be Ramgoolam’s doormat.


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