If it was a joke, it was rather funny. A very proud and satisfied prime minister looked at his subjects contentedly and declared, “Another promise made is being delivered on. The problem of traffic jams will be solved at last,” he added last week during the signing ceremony of the contract with the Singpore-based SMRT Corporation. Who would have thought our prime minister had such a good sense of humour!
I don’t know about you but I personally don’t remember the promise, let alone delivering on it. I do on the other hand remember Pravind Jugnauth, when he was seeking our vote, telling us what a disastrous project the then light rail transit system was and that the only reason the previous government was embarking on it was because there were ‘a lot of commissions’ involved. That statement was followed by a seemingly knowing grin. I also remember a letter sent to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing to him for help to avoid what was then called ‘a disaster’. And I distinctly recall the cheaper alternatives offered by the one who had promised to be the prime minister for five years – flyovers, more roads etc. Maybe we were asleep when Jugnauth made the Metro Express promise he is so proud of having delivered on.
I am sure you can see how our traffic situation has miraculously changed. Everyone is sitting happily in a very modern transport system waving at the happy motorists outside who are cruising through our roads and getting to work on time. A very happy nation indeed.
And this is not the only promise Jugnauth has delivered on. You all recall how repressive the Penalty Point System was. Awful, wasn’t it? So the government promised to banish it and it did. Cameras were switched off, the police found a better use for their time making sure politicians are safe and their babies are well looked after. And we were free to kill each other on the roads. Five hundred and seventy-five deaths later, they delivered on another promise they made to us while we were asleep: coming up with fines for traffic offences we had never heard of: You can’t use your phone even when it’s hand free. When you are talking to someone on the phone, as opposed to when he is sitting next to you in the car, you are involved in emotions which prevent you from concentrating on the road. In fact, you can’t even use your phone when you are parked somewhere because when your engine is running, you are likely to kill people on the road even when the car is stationary. And the trigger-happy cops started tripping over themselves to fill the government’s empty coffers.
One other promise no one could have forgotten is the grand commitment not to make speeches at religious ceremonies. We took that to mean the end of all religious lobbies that thrive on division and the support of vote-thirsty politicians. Then we saw the prime minister deliver on that very important promise: not only did these lobbies have even more funds and encouragement, but the Jugnauths went one step further and started attending functions of openly sectarian groups, a far cry from the promise of nation building we were promised. As the government became more desperate, they started to approach the Pentecostal church for support and considered doing them favours too. They even went as far as instrumentalizing Jocelyn Grégoire by the government’s propaganda organ – the MBC. And Father Grégoire, who remembers that there is an island in the Indian Ocean called Mauritius every time he smells the whiff of an election in the air, suddenly discovered how great this government is and what a fantastic prime minister we have. So for the promise of steering clear from religion and religious lobbies, the promise was delivered to the same degree as the others.
And remember the biggest promise made to you during the campaign: putting an end to nepotism and rooting out corruption in all its forms. Now hold your breath before you start counting: Sheila and Naila Hanoomanjee, Namrata Teeluckdharry, Vijaya Sumputh, Wenda Sawmynaden, Koonjoo’s nephew, Soodhun’s son, Sudesh Rughoobur’s family, Sandhya Boygah, Raj Dayal, Anwar Husnoo… and today, lucky Ken Arian with a small jackpot of Rs520,000! Isn’t that another promise delivered on?
And don’t lose faith. Between now and the next general election, there will be more promises delivered on. But perhaps the prime minister will be too humble to brag about them!
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