Kitchen Politics is a new feature we will be offering in Weekly every month. The interview is conducted in the host's kitchen while s/he is presenting a recipe of his/her choice. The aim is to have a good interview and a good recipe, which we relay in Weekly the same week. For the Youtube version, please visit the following sites: https://youtu.be/6FMmbzGB6i0 and https://youtu.be/3gsni3dSdGU.
Our first guest in Kitchen Politics is Jean Claude de l'Estrac, former journalist, former minister and former secretary general of the Indian Ocean Commission. And, as you will find out, he is also a great chef. An interview around a delicious dish, peppered with humour and subtlety.
The fish you are cooking for us today was not fished in the sea around the Wakashio, I hope, was it?
No, it was fished in the sea in the north but apparently we can eat Wakashio fish, according to some experts. It must be a new variety of fish.
Yes, it would seem. A variety which comes with its own oil as a package.
The 'expert' who claimed that one can eat Wakashio fish is a Scottish expert, who said that in Weekly. He also said that what we call a tragedy here is just 'an incident'. Do you agree with that?
I think he is more Scottish than expert. I would not like to try and test the merit of his reasoning. We are drowning in a large pool of experts and we also need to look for the definition of 'expert'. It does not seem logical to me that the fish in that area is not contaminated. We have seen dead fish, we have seen dead tortoises, withered mangroves... so this indicates that it is toxic. Maybe with time, the fish will become safe again but for the time being, I wouldn't advise anyone to eat it. I know hotel owners in the area who are very worried and who now have to go elsewhere to buy fish while there was a time when the fish in the south was much sought after. People from around the island used to go to the south to buy Mahebourg fish and crab. Today, I doubt that people will queue up for the same privilege. At least not for the time being.
You are chiselling the fish so expertly and quickly. Do you think the government was as quick in dealing with the Wakashio tragedy?
You know, a Chinese philosopher once said that preparing a good fish dish is like running a whole nation. You need seasoning and a lot of accompaniments if one is to be successful. I don't know if our government is there yet.
Well, I am putting the question to you. Is it?
No, it is at a very bad point. I am not telling you anything new nor am I the only one thinking that.
Thinking what exactly?
That things are going very badly for it.
For the government or for the prime minister?
The difference that this time things are bad for the prime minister himself. Up till now, like for the management of Covid, things seemed to be going well for him as we were under the impression that he was active, reactive and he communicated at the right time. Considering the series of scandals we have witnessed, he was spared even by the opposition itself, which every time identified and attacked a particular minister rather than attacking him directly.
"At what point was the prime minister of this country warned about this accident and the imminent catastrophe and what did he do personally. Not what the Port Authority or the National Coast Guard did. The prime minister of this country."
Why did the opposition spare him? Was it done on purpose or is it a weak opposition that cannot attack frontally?
It attacks but it aims at the wrong target. However, in the Wakashio affair, more than in any other scandal we have seen in the last few months, it is the prime minister's personal responsibility that is engaged.
What are we exactly reproaching him with?
We can't reproach him with the shipwreck. That is the responsibility of the captain who, I hope, will stay in prison for a long time. It is his responsibility and that of his crew. The main thing we reproach the prime minister with is his procrastination and perhaps the inefficiency of his services. What we also reproach him personally with is that he did not step up to the plate in time to avoid the worst. We would not have avoided the shipwreck but we would have avoided the ecological disaster announced. So his personal responsibility is engaged and he has not explained himself yet.
He did give some explanation, didn't he?
All the explanations he has given so far are incomplete, insufficient and do not answer the main question.
Which is: At what point was the prime minister of this country warned about this accident and the imminent catastrophe and what did he do personally. Not what the Port Authority or the National Coast Guard did. That is another thing. The prime minister of this country, once warned that the country is facing a clear risk, what did he do? What was his action? What was his reaction?
Or rather inaction... To come back to our cooking...
In the Chinese cuisine, as in all other cuisines, one first eats with one's eyes...
"The minister of finance is probably trained in theory but he has no management experience in anything."
Yes, the dish has to look nice.
Yes. And to present something that looks nice, there is a mix of colours and shapes.
That's what our Lakwizin has missed, isn't it?
(Laughs) One needs patience and experience and practice.
Why, do you think the government lacks experience and practice?
But of course. There are hardly two or three ministers in government today who have any ministerial experience. The minister of finance is probably trained in theory but he has no management experience in anything. Now we will fry the fish in oil.
Talking about oil, do you think the Wakashio oil will stay in our waters for a long time?
I am not an expert and experts do not agree with each other but in my opinion, it will be there for a while.
Time will tell as for the time being nobody knows. However, there already is something extremely negative, which is the image of the country that has been tarnished.
In the end, there was more cooking than politics!
All the better. Apparently, the mere mention of the kitchen evokes politics.
Exactly! Lakwizinn! And finally, you didn't even have to ask for the prime minister's resignation, did you?
That time will come. Everything in its own good time!
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