When silence is golden

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The Economic Development Board (EDB) missed a great opportunity to keep its mouth shut, particularly during an election campaign. It was in fact a unique opportunity as they will not have a second chance to modify the perception people already have.

While the EDB kept absolutely mum about some awful measures like selling our passports, today they came out to refute points that were never made. And so we are told that the board did not pay a penny to the prime minister’s brother-in- law, Sanjiv Ramdanee. But whoever said that they had? At no point in Top TV’s commendable programme was there mention that the EDB had paid Ramdanee. The EDB does not pay service providers. It pays back the client – in this case Serenity – for money spent while shooting the film in Mauritius. Even a moron can understand that. And I don’t think we are morons.

The EDB volunteers more useless information: All the money for accommodation – Rs28.9 million to be more precise – went to the hotels where the crew stayed during the shooting of the Serenity flop: “Trou-aux-Biches and Bcosy”. The EDB – independent as it is – considers it absolutely relevant to specify that Bcosy belongs to Labour Party member Ezra Jhuboo’s family! Why was that information so relevant in an ‘independent’ communiqué from an ‘independent’ institution? Why does it strangely sound like a literal translation of the prime minister’s speech on a caisse savon in Triolet?

“And the EDB is trying to justify this while pretending to be independent? A bit difficult, isn’t it? Particularly if it is playing the same game of hiding the real information and answering questions that were never asked.”

Now if the whole of Serenity team did stay in the hotels mentioned by the EDB, why did Maradiva thank on its Twitter account the “Serenity cast and crew for staying with [us] last year”? Why did the hotel release promotional material to Emirates’ inflight magazine saying that “Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway stayed there during (Sic) filming for (Sic) their neo noir thriller, Serenity”? If Maradiva did not get any money for putting up the “Serenity cast and crew” as they had bragged, do we take it that the hotel has turned into some sort of charity that we can all benefit from?

If the EDB really has nothing to hide and genuinely wants to attenuate the perception that they are errand boys of the Sun Trust, instead of parroting Pravind Jugnauth’s speeches at political rallies, how about disclosing the full figures? How about treating us like literate adults and letting us decide who benefited from Serenity and what the country got out of it? In a nutshell, how were the Rs760 millions spent? To start with, what was the exact figure spent? Is it Rs630 million as Minister of Culture Pradeep Roopun said in parliament or Rs735 million as he said again in parliament without blinking? On the basis of which sum was the 40% rebate calculated? Who exactly got what from that colossal sum of money? Why is this treated as a state secret?

As for Pravind Jugnauth, instead of frontally attacking Top FM’s director and accusing him of being a political agent, he might perhaps benefit by reflecting on how he and his family have treated this country for the last five years. From hijacking all our institutions by placing family members and political agents on their boards to giving juicy jobs and contracts to relatives; from spending taxpayers’ money without counting to offering astronomical salaries to those close to them; from passing the prime ministership from father to son like a family heirloom to having a full police force at their beck and call to translate all their wishes into instant commands; from closing down the BAI to saving a bankrupt hotel like Maradiva through a twist to the Invest Hotel Scheme; from the mother sitting in the United Nations General Assembly Hall at the expense of the state to flying a crony to New York at the cost of Rs800,000 just for the plane ticket; from Serenity to MARSgate… Everything suggests only one thing: That there is no difference between the country and the Jugnauths’ other properties. They have become one and the same thing. The whole country seems like a huge dining table where one big family is feasting on our carcass.

This is taking corruption to a whole new level. It has spread everywhere like a cancer! And the EDB is trying to justify this while pretending to be independent? A bit difficult, isn’t it? Particularly if it is playing the same game of hiding the real information and answering questions that were never asked.

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