Fool me once…

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For it to work, democracy needs a few essential ingredients: democrats in the National Assembly who have the interests of their country – rather than their own – at heart, independent men and women at the head of every institution, a principled and courageous citizenry and a strong opposition united in the interest of the country. None of these is abundant on our island.

I cannot help but draw a parallel between what is happening in the UK right now and what we are going through here. Over there, as soon as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the prorogation of parliament, public protests started flaring up across the country, denouncing his undemocratic move and sleight of hand. At the same time, a cross-party group of backbenchers rebelled and managed to take control of the House of Commons and push through a bill to extend Brexit to the beginning of next year. Some of the rebels were ex-ministers and Tory Party heavyweights who left their own party to save their country from the disaster they feel would result from a no-deal Brexit. None of them seems to have given a second thought to the open threat of losing the party whip. In fact, as a Conservative Party MP said: “If anything, those threats have made it more difficult for MPs to back down, because if you decide to back the government in that circumstance, you are effectively saying you value your career over your principles.” And the image of Tory MP Phillip Lee walking from the benches of his own party right across to sit next to the Lib Dems during the prime minister’s speech will remain memorable.

The saying 'fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me' is well deserved. Please give us more of the same!”

While free men and women are standing for principle and for what they genuinely think is right for the UK, our politicians are currently involved in the most abject game of what it is apt to call political harlotry: One turns his back on his own party on the promise of occupying the position of decorating the State House, smiling and reaping lifelong benefits at the expense of the taxpayer. For this, he is prepared to devote his time to waxing lyrical about the one likely to bestow the honour on him. Another ditches his high morals for a possible post of ambassador so that he can reunite with his wife and lead a great life paid for by us. Others are interested in being fielded in various constituencies. Many are men and women of simple desires who could use a nomination here and there to fill their bank accounts and travel for free.

As for those trust-deficient, uninspiring vanilla MPs still sitting in our National Assembly, you have all noticed how they have grinned their way through every bill presented, including those that are so blatantly an attack on our individual freedoms, defended and blindly voted for them in the hope of pleasing their leader and securing a second investiture.

What has made this possible of course is a lethargic, detached citizenry, more interested in remaining in the good books of politicians to get the crumbs falling off their regal meals than in driving change. This is enhanced by totally submissive institutions which have turned their once laudable mission into clearing the way for the one they owe their nomination to: A police force more interested in the well-being of ministers and in spying on political opponents and journalists than in curbing the rampant crime in the country. A servile MBC totally at the service of the prime minister. An IBA that sees no evil and hears no evil. A Mauritius Telecom using our own money for government propaganda. A Human Rights Commission and an Equal Opportunities Commission in a deep coma. An ICAC very useful in taking its time when investigating issues that might embarrass the party it serves. A Central Bank opening its vaults for the government. Religious leaders whose main mission has been diverted into promoting politicians rather than the word of God… And this is crowned by a disjointed, pathetic opposition busy shopping around for the highest offer, irrespective of policy! 

So, no, we are not a country where democracy extends beyond the ballot. There is no danger of people taking to the streets demanding their rights. We are not the UK. Heck, we are not even Hong Kong where citizens have won the day over a very repressive government. There is no revolution at the gates here. The saying 'fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me' is well deserved. Please give us more of the same!

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]


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