Every time the authorities look us straight in the eye and talk about “independence”, “transparency”, “fairness” and “public interest” – words and expressions the taste and smell of which we no longer have much recollection of – I can’t help asking myself what it is in our demeanour, behaviour or language that suggests to them that we are morons. Or that we have all been hit by a bout of amnesia and forgotten all the repressive laws that made their way to our legislation – and continue to do so – thanks to the MSM governments.
Where does one start? With the Prevention of Terrorism Act that resulted in the double resignation of Former President Cassam Uteem and Late Vice-President Angidi Chettiar? Or go directly to the Public Gathering Act and the Newspapers and Periodicals Act? Should I dwell a bit on the amendments to the Information and Communication Technology Act that saw our compatriots who are critical of the government being dragged kicking and screaming to the Line Barracks for having ‘annoyed’ some self-important non-entity? And who has forgotten the aborted Prosecution Commission Bill and the Hoffman law?
So there is nothing in the track record of any MSM government to even slightly suggest that there is any motive behind the proposed law other than more restrictions of our already stifled freedoms and the lionisation of the supreme leader. With that in mind, let’s drop all pretense and accept those simple facts. Let’s also accept the other equally obvious fact that the proposed National Digital Ethics Committee will have as a main objective anything but ethics. You don’t need to have a crystal bowl to guess the size of the tongue of the candidates likely to be part of the committee or their main qualifications. As for the Technical Enforcement Unit, we all know that it will operate along very objective and independent lines, a bit like the speaker in the national assembly.
But what infuriates me in all this is not just that the freedom of expression enshrined in our constitution is being made a mockery of and that all the signs of a tyrannical and autocratic regime are now clear. It is not even the fact that we will have a series of chatwas who have become specialists in crawling and bootlicking decrypting our most sensitive traffic, checking our online work from home and online banking and spying on our most intimate lives when they could go and get a life of their own.
My worry is much bigger than that: at a time when economists are sounding the alarm bell that our public debt has now exceeded 100 – one hundred! – per cent, there is no plan to tighten the government’s large belt, re-engineer the economy and get us out the rut we are in. Instead, the government’s utmost priority is to throw even more money out of the window buying new hardware and software likely to cost billions of rupees to spy on us, profile us, control our thoughts and restrict our liberties! Which responsible government in the world does that?
Imagine also the impact this will have on our tourism sector – which has been on ventilator for nearly two years now. Which tourist will be interested to come here when they know they will be personally, financially and professionally naked before government cronies? Which businesses will set up here or stay with that knowledge in mind?
Forget about the freedom of speech, for me, a government with such priorities in such dire times, with such total disregard for the economic consequences of its acts is not fit to lead this country!