This is not the first time you lashed out at a journalist and hit below the belt after a legitimate question which embarrassed you. Not so long ago, you lashed out at another one of our colleagues and arrogantly declared that his very pertinent question did not deserve a reply. You also lost your cool when another colleague asked you about a tape where your voice could clearly be heard giving your assent to an illegal negotiation with Dawood Rawat through your stooge Sattar Hajee Abdoola. If you don’t want to answer difficult questions, you might want to consider giving us the list of questions you would like to hear us ask you. That would avoid us the terrible experience of being put down by you, encouraged by a group of sycophants who should be busy doing the jobs they are paid to do instead of spending their time clapping in unison on cue at every press conference.
This time you went even further and declared the question asked about your mother being included in the OFFICIAL delegation going to The Hague with your father – with all the financial implications and the perception of Banana Republic that entails – as ‘cheap’. The journalist did not question your mother’s right to accompany your father to The Hague and take the opportunity to do her shopping if she so wishes. She however has no business being in the hall with lawyers and experts in international law. And the taxpayer has no reason to pay for her expenses. Period!
In this context, I thought we perhaps have to agree on the definition of the word ‘cheap’. In my dictionary, a journalist asking a question about public funds and decorum is doing his job. That cannot be qualified as cheap.
On the other hand, here is a non-exhaustive list of what can be qualified as cheap:
- The monarchical way in which your father stepped down to hand over power to you, using his health as an excuse but staying on all the same, is cheap.
- Having a lady, no matter how much respect we have for her, sitting in the International Court of Justice next to experts in international law and judges is cheap.
- Giving as justification “Mo problem sa!” is cheap as that means mistaking the country for your own property.
- Rewriting history to re-invent one’s father’s role in the independence of this country when we all know that the latter was a magistrate in 1967 is cheap.
- Keeping obscene people taking salacious photos in the National Assembly onboard to avoid facing an election is cheap.
- Backpedalling on a law that would incriminate ministers who have changed the horsepower in their cars before selling them so that they sit behind you and giggle at your attempt to intimidate journalists is cheap.
- Having a disreputable, openly racist and misogynistic character as president of your party is cheap. And it might turn out to be very expensive one day.
- Refusing to let go of ministers accused of assault, swindling, fraud and sexual harassment just to avoid having to face your challenger in a by-election is cheap.
- Having MPs who have been found by a Commission on Drugs to be involved with the biggest drug lords in prison is cheap.
- Giving Rs15 million to a disgraced former police commissioner, now an MP, to avoid a by-election is cheap.
- Proposing a law to better control the director of public prosecutions is cheap.
- Allowing, even initiating, arbitrary arrests, and other illegal acts like locking up foreign nationals and interrogating them until the wee hours of the morning is cheap.
I could go on defining more acts that can be qualified as cheap but asking the right questions in the right forum is not one of them. You will have seen from the reactions on the net the support that the journalist has had. So I am asking the ‘cheap’ question again: In what capacity did Lady Jugnauth find her way in the OFFICIAL delegation in The Hague, what was her contribution to the debate and how much did we taxpayers fork out for that?
As taxpayers are currently involved in the painful exercise of filling out their tax returns, I am sure that they will have a special thought for that.
For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: [email protected]