“Gouverner pour le peuple – avec le peuple”
Dear Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Congratulations on your election victory, but there is something you need to know. Many of us didn’t vote for you. We voted against Ramgoolam. If you had been allied with him, you would surely have been humiliated instead of Bérenger. Do we have blind faith in you? No. It was not without reason that you were crushed 60-0 in 1995. In 2000, you were given another chance, but your party failed to live up to expectations and was replaced once more. Of course, the alternative turned out to be even worse. Will you do better this time? We hope so.
Occasionally, the BBC produces a news story for April Fool’s day; the last one, in 2008, was a report, complete with video of penguins escaping the Antarctic winter by flying to South America. In 2013, did they make a global fool of our Prime Minister? The story was deadly serious, the flash flood in Port Louis that claimed the lives of our precious citizens on 30th March. Curiously the BBC first reported the story on 31st March and then repeated it the next day. The BBC’s children’s website described the calamity in only 5 sentences, the last one being:
The Mauritian Prime Minister blamed climate change for the floods.
WHAT!?! While it is impossible for us to do a survey of primary school students around the world, we believe, perhaps with the exception of Mauritius, most would consider this statement utterly ridiculous. The line was repeated in the main news bulletin on BBC World, presumably to let the whole planet would know that we have an idiot in charge of our country. Even when there was unprecedented melting of the Greenland’s ice sheets in July 2012, the BBC’s report contained a caveat from a top climate scientist:
…as always we cannot attribute any individual extreme event to climate change… Continue reading
Our leaders recently denied a request for Greenpeace’s vessel – the Rainbow Warrior – to access Port Louis harbour during its tour of the Indian Ocean. Are they justified? Let us examine the objections reported to have come from Government House to find out. Continue reading
1. Tell me about your experience, from early beginnings up to now, in an Environmental Non-Governmental Organization (ENGO).
The NGO I work for is actually a charity that a friend and I founded at the end of 2008. Its goals include promoting human rights as well as protecting the environment, expressed as environmental stewardship and social justice. The two are fundamentally linked since the poor destroy the environment out of need and the rich destroy it out of greed. Moreover, the UN Human Rights Council has long been seeking to establish the human right to enjoy a healthy environment. My experience to date has been an exploration of what this actually means in the Mauritian context. Continue reading
[Extract of his speech at the annual dinner for economic actors – see last sentence]
Now let me turn to our economic prospects and our high aspirations.
We are living in troubled and testing times. Several questions arise. Will we be agile enough to meet the severe tests ahead? What kind of growth should we seek? Should it not be more inclusive? And more equitable? We are trying hard to move into niche markets but is this enough? What else must we do to escape the middle-income trap, to be amongst the best small economies, not just in Africa, but in the wider world where our main competitors are to be found?
We have seen the likes of Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland and others raising the bar to achieve GDP per capita, adjusted for purchasing power, more than twice the levels we have achieved despite our continued economic growth. Can we make the breakthrough? Are we prepared to do what it takes to do so? Continue reading
Quite intriguingly, Honda chose the redundant sugar factory – l’Aventure du Sucre – as the venue to launch three hybrid cars in Mauritius. This excellent museum portrays, in graphic detail, the inhuman exploitation of good people of colour by the “then” racist Franco-Mauritian elite. We attended to publicly ridicule the hybrid green-wash propaganda but were pleasantly surprised…
First, because our sparring partner from Yale, and arch supporter of the hybrid deception, Vedant Seeam was guest of honour. Second, because Mr Yoshiaki Nakamura had the perfect repost to our katana-like critique. In his presentation, the President of Honda Motor Southern Africa declared that Honda is committed to an avergage 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from its vehicles by 2020. How on earth did he expect hybrids to achieve that? we asked. He replied that hybrids are but a stepping stone to fossil-fuel free transport, whether it be all electric or hydrogen. Respect sir! Continue reading
But not according to Prime Minister Ramgoolam. To him, the new commercial centre represents another reason for holiday-makers to visit our shores: shopping tourism. We do not share his optimism.
So who will come shopping here? Wealthy Europeans? Why should they when they can have a much greater choice and better prices at Dubai airport, transit hub for Emirates? Travellers not only enjoy one of the world’s top ten airlines (far surpassing Air Mauritius which doesn’t even provide first class seats), they also benefit from being picked up closer to home from regional airports. What about the nouveau riche from South East Asia? Well, they are spoilt for choice with 2 duty free shopping islands in Malaysia (not to mention its world class shopping centres in Kuala Lumpur) and the superb Singapore airport right on their doorstep.
So, globally speaking, Bagatelle is a thing of little importance. Except for Mauritians, to whom it represents another step closer to European living standards. As long as you have a car. However, the MID working groups, criticised the development of out-of-town shopping centres as contradictory to the principles of sustainability for the following reasons: Continue reading