Paul Lismore


Rédigé par Paul Lismore le Vendredi 6 Décembre 2019

Our wonderful politicians always use the adjective "august" when they refer to our National Assembly. For those who labour under the misapprehension that they might be referring to a calendar month, let me explain that 'august' in this context means " dignified", "noble", "glorious", " majestic", "stately".

So, for something so resplendent, glorious, and grand, one would expect the "Honourable" ones to select someone appropriate to chair their sittings and to ensure that proceedings are held in a disciplined and objective manner.

Especially as we are all painfully aware of the grotesque way the previous incumbent chaired matters as she could apparently see with only one eye and hear only one side.

What have they done this time? If you think the choice of Maya Hanoomanjee was another bad decision from la cuisine, the decision to appoint Sooroojdeo Phokeer (GOSK siouplai...) is like the proverbial meal cooked with rotten meat and vegetables well past their sell by date.

Let me quote from the National Assembly and what it says about the Speaker, with this headline:

Honourable Sooroojdev PHOKEER, GOSK
Elected Speaker as from 21 November 2019
It goes on to say that " The Speakership is the most important office in the House.... One of the most important qualities of a Speaker is impartiality. He must be above party politics. Once elected to the Chair, he owes his loyalty to the dignity of Parliament."

We all know that Phokeer played a very prominent role in the last electoral campaign, and acted well beyond the call of duty in constituency number 10 especially, although he also canvassed hard in other constituencies for the MSM.

Let us give him the benefit of the doubt and swallow the notion the he will now be above party politics and will show his loyalty to the dignity of Parliament and not to the party he has been supporting for many decades.

It is axiomatic that before you appoint someone to an important post, you check his/her background and see whether any past misdemeanours will bring the recruiting institution into disrepute or not. It is the A in any ABC of any sensible recruitment policy.

If you still appoint someone to a hugely sensitive post, despite being fully aware of his antecedents, then that makes you a corrupt, arrogant bastard who just does not care about public perception and the dignity of the office. This, unfortunately, is what has happened with the appointment of Phokeer as Speaker by Prime Minister Pravin Jugnauth, and the ratification of that choice by the "Honourable" members of the Legislative Assembly.

Pravin Jugnauth cannot plead ignorance and claim that he was not aware of Phokeer's past. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius in 2003-2005, during the time when Prime Minister Berenger unceremoniously unseated Phokeer from his cushy ambassadorial chair in sunny Cairo, and put him on the next flight back to Mauritius.

Why did Berenger do this? Because several confidential reports were sent to the Government (i.e. including Deputy Prime Minister Jugnauth and President Jugnauth too...) detailing Phokeer's abuse of his privileges and of the immunity given to senior diplomatic staff abroad. There were allegations of abuse and misuse of his duty free privileges, and some concern over some rather pernicious relationships with young boys. And he was also claiming far more rent than he was actually paying and pocketing the difference, which of course was all at the expense of the Mauritian taxpayer...

Now, what do you think happened to this serviteur du pays when he was forced to return to Mauritius?

A police investigation? An inquiry by the newly formed ICAC, then under the leadership of the current idiot in charge of ICAC? Our wonderful 'free and independent' press making it front page news? Eoula! No! This is Mauritius, our etat de droit! Phokeer was immediately recruited by Brylcreem Boy Bodha as "Advisor" to the Ministry of Agriculture, presumably to cultivate some green shoots of recovery in our failing Agricultural sector....

In 2015, with the vrai sanzman they promised us, SAJ as Prime Minister appointed Phokeer as our ambassador to the USA, where he apparently took a particular dislike to the dreadlocks of a junior member of staff...

But let us get back to the incidents of 2004, when Phokeer was recalled by Berenger from Cairo. Why has Berenger kept quiet about this during all that time? Why is he making some noise now, but not loud enough for us to hear from him exactly what Phokeer did for Berenger to sack him as ambassador to Egypt? Why did Berenger remain quiet when Phokeer was subsequently appointed as our ambassador to the USA in 2015? Why did Berenger the Prime Minister approve Bodha's recruitment of Phokeer as his adviser in 2004 after being kicked out of Egypt?

As for Arvind Boolell, he seems to be like the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights of a fast approaching car. He has been worse than useless as leader of the opposition and his claim to be the next leader of the PTr seems to be dissipating with every day he spends in his new role.

He should have objected to the appointment of Phokeer after what Berenger had told him, and he should have refused to attend the Coronation of President Baigan, because of the weird manner the nomination was made. What message does he think he is giving by being the only opposition member to have attended that function designed for arse lickers, attention seekers, greedy bastards after free food, and ugly little things looking for the appropriate setting for their annoying selfies? Not a very convincing start as leader of the opposition, and I fear that even a mediocre Pravin Jugnauth will make mince meat out of him...

So, do the "Honourable" members of our "august" National Assembly simply continue to pretend that Phokeer is the right person for the Speaker's job, despite his dishonourable past? The chances are, yes they will. Otherwise, Berenger and others would have made a lot more noise about this, and their friends and soucerres in the press would have happily voiced their 'outrage' too.

As for the poor youngsters in Mauritius with a criminal record because of having once enjoyed the same spliff that so many of our politicians have also enjoyed, tough! Nou dan ene etat de droit, et nou ena ban saints o pouvoir...

Vendredi 6 Décembre 2019

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