L'Express (Port Louis)

Mauritius: What Have They Done to Be Bestowed With Such Honours?

opinion

Two or three weeks ago, I happened to glance at the news bulletin on MBC television more by mistake than by design. I was to witness a ceremony held at the presidential offices at Le Reduit. It was organised to bestow honours on various people nominated as recipients on the occasion of the anniversary of the independence of Mauritius.

I found myself pondering on a very philosophical question and an equally very pertinent observation. The question - "By what criteria are people selected to be recipients of such high distinction?" and the observation - "They must have really given sterling service to the country to deserve such high commendations especially those who receive the highest honours in the land."

In perusing a glossy magazine, I discovered that four of the past recipients of the (GCSK), Grand Commander of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean, the highest honours in the country, were senior ministers, closely followed by three other ministers with the second highest honours (GOSK), Grand Officer of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean. The question that begs to be asked is "What they have done to be bestowed with such honours? Whathave they really achieved?" Surely it is not as their roles as ministers because they get paid for it.

It must be for something wonderful for which the community should be eternally grateful. I am still racking my brain to think of a plausible reason, no luck so far. I would be grateful if somebody can provide me with answers. Paradoxically the very people who devote their life doing voluntary work for the less fortunate among us hardly get a look in. They are the ones that rightly deserve the top honours, not the token ones that are sometimes dished out. I searched the official government website to find out the procedure on how honours are dished out and who decides the names of the recipients. My investigation was to no avail.

Where is the transparency that we are told exists? Whatever happened to Equal Opportunities? Is it not time that the public is made aware of the nitty gritty of the procedure? Is it not time for the public to be allowed to make proposals of potential recipients of honours, supported of course by conclusive evidence?

I can think of a number of people who have made unstinted efforts to help those really in need and richly deserved to be acknowledged and rewarded for their voluntary work. Two names come to mind immediately: Mr. Ally Lazer and Mr. Cadress Runghen. No doubts, there are others who have been selfless in the endeavours to provide voluntary service to the community at large. They are the ones who deserve the top honours. Let us hope that one day we will have a Freedom of information act to enable us to understand the why and wherefore of decisions taken on our behalf.

In a previous article, I had mentioned the increasing number of foreigners coming to Mauritius and obtaining the Mauritian nationality through the IRS and ERS schemes. Now, apparently, there are "magouilles" (fiddles) coming to the surface to indicate that some foreigners are obtaining their permits fraudulently through other means. I hope that it is not just the tip of the iceberg, because otherwise, there is a risk that we will be submerged (pardon the pun).

By the way, this is not xenophobia there must be proper planning to ensure that foreigners who are allowed to reside here are integrated in the Mauritian community. Otherwise, there is the risk of a having a community within a community.

I understand in some parts of the island, the problem already exists. Let us hope that the authorities will be proactive and take appropriate measures before we are faced with an even bigger problem instead of reacting after with botched up legislation, like we have seen too often in the past.

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