ARVIN BOOLELL

I am glad that our Parliament is a vestige of colonialism. I would have hated it if it were an academic tower. The people in their wisdom or foolishness elect their Representatives.

Gone are the days when there were nominees and the Council of Ministers was chaired by the Governor. Coercive laws were passed and the conclusion was foregone. Times have changed and our Constitution, the Supreme Law of our Land, has adequate safeguards.

Our Say and not our Way

There are circumstances where Government cannot always have its way otherwise the fabric of Parliamentary Democracy would be undermined. On Constitutional matters, for example the reform of our electoral system, is an opportunity for compromise. Unfortunately, due to the stubbornness and intransigence of the PM a no deal is better than a bad deal. I still believe the proposal made by Labour Party and MMM which emanates from the findings of a report entitled “Modernizing the Electoral System” is the way forward.

“On Constitutional matters, routine and non-controversial bills, members of parliament cannot always parrot party lines. Should an MP subordinate his conscience to the party whip on all bills?”

In India pertinent questions are put and remain unanswered? Mr Sashi Tharoor MP asked whether the schedule in the anti-defection clause could override the main provisions of the Constitution. The reply is not forthcoming.

Money Politics

In Mauritius money politics is pervasive and several MPs on Government bench owe their allegiance to deals they clinch.

The temptation to cross the floor is too strong and unflinching loyalty to political parties is not always heard of.

A good friend keen to stand as candidate for Labour Party and a potential Minister of Finance reminds me that when Parties in Government are in free fall their cronies will strip assets of troubled companies. This Government has a great inclination to strip assets of Insurance and Banking institutions. It has created a class of marauders and carpet baggers.

Free fall and Vulture politics

The free fall started on the day Government opted for Nationalisation and Expropriation of assets of BAI.

I do grant you BAI was not a blue-chip company. Even the bitter competitors of BAI were right to point out that matters could have been handled differently.

Many cronies close to Government are stripping the assets of SIFB because they believe that the Sugar cane industry is a sunset sector. I could not understand why professionals like Mr G Leung Shing who had been a member of SIFB for the last 25 years had remained silent?

The Culture of subordination amongst MPs is the outcome of vulture politics. MPs on Government bench will trade their conscience for personal gains. During the debate on the Electoral Reform one MP gave his solemn word that he would not parrot party lines and would vote according to his clear conscience. After his intervention he told me that he has to serve his own interests.

The petty Cash and SPV syndrome

I call it Rs 15 million petty cash syndrome. I don’t expect MPs Sorefan, Husnoo or Dayal to say otherwise. The Special Purpose Vehicle on the other hand is meant for those who are feathering their nests and swelling their war chests. Members on Government bench are operating in a win-win situation at the expense of tax payers.

A special Case

Notwithstanding the electronic display of the anatomical parts of one MP I certainly find it more entertaining to watch the theatrical display of Hon R Rutnah despite an omission or a wrong spelling here and there. His diatribes certainly leave nobody indifferent.

Who does not make a silly mistake during a flight of ideas? We all do it. There is no day of judgement. We learn by our mistakes.

On the other hand, there is no harm if parliament has a jester. We have to bring in the clown if there is no one.

Putting Profits before People

I was right to point out that Funding of Political Parties should be declared when the Bill on Declaration of Assets was the subject of Debate. 

When MPs put their own profits before people, they are undignified, have no moral and legal authority and are disqualified as representatives of the people. Does he or she have a right to be a member of Parliament?

Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman born in Dublin, a renowned author, orator, political theorist and philosopher, who, after moving to London in 1750, served as a member of parliament between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons with the Whig Party, would cringe in his tomb.

Madam Speaker

The Chair and members equally have to command respect.

It has to be earned and not thrust upon. If the Chair succumbs to the power of the Leader of the House or the Executive then Parliamentary Democracy is severely undermined. By allowing any member to get away despite a finding of Misconduct by the Chair the spirit of partisanship prevails.

Constituent Assembly

Parliament cannot afford to send any wrong signal. It does not take instructions from any political quarters. The Committee on Standing Orders has to be set up and time to update the revised recommendations made to consolidate Parliamentary Democracy. The demarcation line amongst Democratic Institutions has to be widened and the revision of Constitution has to be high on the Agenda. The setting up of a Constituent Assembly to revisit our Constitution is now.