According to Plato, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” Since Independence, the abuse of power has been an ever-growing phenomenon, although how that equates with ancestral values – that leaders talk about so often – is hard to fathom. To a greater or lesser extent, members of every government have stretched their tentacles throughout the public sector, and even tried to limit the powers of the fourth estate, the media. Incidentally, the other estates are the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, although historically they referred to the clergy, the nobility and the commoners. The power of the clergy here has mutated into the influence of sectarian lobbies, while the nobility – the knights and landowners – are either dying out or have been left with the karo kann and several development sites. Except for the odd election, the commoners seem voiceless.
The judiciary has emerged least scathed by the grasps of the executive, even if doubts exist from time to time. The legislature has become paralysed by members’ fears of losing office or hopes of appointment, although Britain may show how change can happen – if MPs decide to seize control of the Commons as a result of the Brexit fiasco. Mount Olympos has always rather enjoyed the dry humour of the Angles and Saxons but feels they would have done better to leave farce to the French. By the way, farce entertains audiences through highly unlikely situations and deliberate absurdity, often in a room with many entrances. And exits. Currently many of the actors wear yellow vests – or black shirts and hoods.
A common problem in modern democracies is a lack of checks and balances on how a PM behaves, so that he assumes the status of a god, much to the annoyance of you-know-who. The demi-gods – other ministers, MPs, advisers et al – are no better. How can a civilisation, whose golden age dates date back some 2,400 years, have been so much more successful than now in delivering ethical behaviour, integrity, real values and accountability?
While a few imperfections may have been noted in colonial rule, increasingly since then there’s interference in everything. Leaders apparently believe they can get away with it with impunity – perhaps they think it’s an acquired right. And they’re egged on by a plague of ticks sucking away at the body politic. Few have much confidence in the supposedly independent institutions meant to be impartial. The police force, the ICAC, the BOM, the GRA, the MBC – to name but a few – are all tainted. The PSC may have improved but, when the authority to recruit is delegated, the results are plain for all to see. Women walking in the street are sometimes harassed but less likely to suffer from attouchements than local authorities. Why do politicos feel entitled to interfere in public sector appointments, who should head local councils, to whom contracts should be rewarded and in hundreds of other ways?
Many Admirables are as corrupt as their masters. Fancy someone offering a two million rupee bribe to try and secure a job in the civil service! Such work may be very attractive – particularly if official working time is reduced to an hour a day – but that’s no excuse. At least meddling no longer goes unchallenged, thanks to social media and a press desperately trying to keep up by exposing scandals (and non-scandals) first. As Agalega’s already swamped with newcomers, all those deserving banishment will have to be dumped on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, although that may submerge the archipelago faster than global warming. Meanwhile, Mount Olympos plans to distribute extra doses of ambrosia in the coming days in the hope that some spirit or other can come up with alternative remedies.