Tony LINGIAH
From the United Kingdom

‘The function of the state is creating and preserving internal peace, law and order universally recognised and respected.’ (Memorandum of Social Welfare in the Colonies 1948).

I quote from the above to situate myself by way of introduction, as I was around at the time this was written and although apolitical throughout my life and international career, I feel compelled to write the following addressed primarily to the Prime Minister. The reason for this piece is in support of the sentiments of many like-minded citizens… from current Pilots (and also Pilots who have left the national airline to work for other well established airlines) to fishermen and common citizens around the island, to raise awareness surrounding the case concerning CAPTAIN PATRICK HOFMAN, who has worked and trained pilots for Air Mauritius for several years.

I have never met this gentleman, but I am sure that he has kept me safe in the air on my frequent trips to the island when I used to fly with the national airline and safely landing me to my waiting family.

The information being used for this letter is derived from what is available in the public domain and international news agencies. For the sake of brevity, I will summarise the pertinent points….

His employment was terminated by MK overnight due to sickness – which had been medically certified. We will all agree that all pilots must be in optimum physical and psychological health to take charge of an aircraft carrying passengers over different airspaces and time zones, to ensure the maximum safety of those in the air and on the ground.

The integrity of the named pilot is not in question as he has been in MK’s employment for several years and has contributed immensely to the growth and reputation of the national carrier. He has also been involved in training and supporting junior staff sharing his expertise and advanced skills.

Immediately and without notice, he was visited by Police Officers followed by Immigration Officers ordering him to leave the country on the next available flight, wherever that might be despite Mauritius being his normal place of residence.
His residency permit was revoked immediately by the Prime Minister’s Office without due consideration to his legal rights, his property, thus not respecting the Geneva Convention.
Without the support of the media and local people he would have been exited from the island and would have surely been handcuffed if he resisted. From the information available, he was able to access legal representation and an execution of stay was implemented immediately by the Court.

His involvement in representing MK Pilot’s at syndicate level must have further exacerbated the situation as the culture of the Executive Board is perceived to be of an authoritarian and paternalistic nature.

The distress caused reverberation in the flying community at national and international level. The feeling was also echoed by the local population from all walks of life who show solidarity with Captain Hofman and wish for the matter to be resolved with fairness and in a responsible manner.

The various authorities are engaging in a waiting game and have been economical with the truth in this case. As citizens it is in the public interest that the truth is established.
While Mauritius plays host to rich long distance villa owner’s who are given residency status but who may only use the facility for short periods, this individual has made a long term commitment to the growth of MK – when he could easily have chosen to work for other international airlines. In addition to his professional contribution he has engaged with his local community.

It is not my intention to be critical or negative and hope it is not too presumptuous of me to humbly request that the Prime Minister promotes an ethos of understanding, compassion and fairness in this case. I believe that the following questions are pertinent, and as an elderly apolitical citizen, who believes in human rights and fairness, would implore the Prime Minister to consider:-

Are all the objective facts available to you?
Who is the lead person in this case and who influences who in the process?
What is the ultimate objective in revoking his residence status?
On what grounds was he dismissed from his job as a Captain for MK?
What would be the reaction of the Government if the Mauritian Diaspora was suddenly asked to leave their respective adopted countries in this manner?
In the spirit of mutual understanding and respect for your ultimate decision I implore you, Mr Prime Minister, to personally review this case. The European media have an interest in this case and with the speed of social communication, the eventual decision you make can have positive or negative implications for the future image of Mauritius.

28th January 2018