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Friday, 28 December 2012 11:04

National Assembly – House of Scandals Featured

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The second session of the fifth National Assembly was adjourned on Tuesday 18 December 2012 after a day of rowdy exchanges of words on one of the numerous scandals which Parliament debated since 8 May 2012. The House stands adjourned until Tuesday 26 March 2013, after having discussed 23 Private Notice Questions during the year after 32 sittings started on 16 April 2012.
Out of the 23 PNQs, 20 depicted high scandals and scams, like Arms Trafficking and the Gros Derek affair, most of them gave way to hot debates in Parliament, at times very virulent, but all through without real answers with many of them still under enquiry, finally leading  to the perception that they were all meant for the gallery.
As Shakespeare puts it in Macbeth “It was like a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!”
News on Sunday revisits some of the scandals debated in Parliament in 2012.

Med Point
It all started on 8 May with the Med Point mega affair with the tender for the acquisition of a building for the setting up of a geriatric hospital was issued five days prior to the 2010 general election. In his reply the Prime Minister told Parliament that tender procedures started as from February 2010 with the preparation of the bidding documents for the acquisition of a building for the setting up of a Geriatric Hospital. Initial bid documents to float tenders for the acquisition of a building for the setting up of a National Geriatric Hospital were sent to the Central Procurement Board on 01 March 2010.

Tenders were accordingly floated through Press Notice on 30 April 2010. In accordance with directives issued by the Procurement Policy Office, the tender documents and the invitation for bids were posted on the public procurement portal hosted and maintained by the Procurement Policy Office. The deadline for submission of bids was 03 June 2010. It is common knowledge that the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of Med Point clinic are currently the subject of proceedings, both before the Supreme Court, the District Court and also of criminal investigation by the ICAC.

Roche Noires bungalow: Rolex and Ramdhany
On 15 May 2012, Paul Bérenger raised a case of larceny which has been reported to have been committed in a bungalow at Roches Noires, on Sunday 3 July 2011 at 01.30 hours. The Prime Minister told Parliament that at 09 20 hours on 03 July 2011, one Mr D. G. reported to Rivière du Rempart Police Station that at around 01 30 hours on the same day he was sleeping in a bungalow situated at Coastal Road, Roches Noires when an unknown person whom he can identify entered his room, threatened him with a knife, stole the sum of Rs20,000 and bolted away through a window.

In the course of the enquiry, Police questioned eleven persons, but they were allowed to go as no reasonable suspicion was raised against them after the questioning.  Anand Kumar Ramdhony was not one of the persons questioned in connection with the larceny in the bungalow. Mr Ramdhony was arrested following a case of larceny of a wristwatch reported lost at Plaine des Papayes Police Station by one Mrs M. F. B residing at NHDC, Bois Mangues. The Prime Minister confirmed that the bungalow where the larceny was committed belongs to him. “As I have stated publicly, as soon as I was informed of the larceny, I went on the spot to take stock of the situation and I advised Mr D. G. who was staying there to report the case to the Police,” he told Parliament.

Rosewood smuggling from Madagascar
On 22 May 2012, the alleged case of smuggling of rosewood in June 2011 from Madagascar was raised by the leader of the Opposition. Dr Ramgoolam told the House that ADSU had already received the intelligence of the illegal shipment of ‘Bois de Rose’ on six containers, not one. The Customs declaration dated 09 June 2011 relating to the containers showed the destination of the goods as Kenya, but on 12 June 2011 the documents were modified in order to show the destination as China. In fact, the Cargo manifest also indicated the final destination as China.

Light Railway 
On 5 June 2012 Paul Bérenger wanted to know from the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport and Shipping, Anil Bachoo, of the financing options in regard to the proposed Light Railway System Project. In his reply Anil Bachoo said that regarding the first phase they have made their offers and being given that this matter is being looked by the Due Diligence Committee, which is a Committee just like a Bid Evaluation Committee, it was not proper for him to reveal the quantum that they have asked.

Chagos Archipelago
On Tuesday 12 June 2012, Paul Bérenger wanted to know if Dr Navin Ramgoolam after his meeting with David Cameron proposes to meet Mr Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, in relation to the Chagos
“My mission to the UK last week was to have a bilateral meeting with Mr David Cameron, the British Prime Minister. While in the UK, the meeting with the British Prime Minister was held at 10, Downing Street.

On the British side, the hon. Henry Bellingham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr John Dennis, Head of Africa Desk at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Private Secretaries of Prime Minister David Cameron and hon. Henry Bellingham were also present. In attendance on the Mauritius side were the Secretary to the Cabinet, the Solicitor-General, our High Commissioner in London, and our Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. Both sides highlighted the long-standing ties between our two countries, and looked forward to the successful hosting of CHOGM in Mauritius in 2015. I observed, however, that the dispute on the Chagos issue remained a blot in an otherwise excellent relationship.

I reminded the British Prime Minister of the repeated undertakings by the United Kingdom that the Chagos Archipelago would be returned to Mauritius when no longer needed for defence purposes. I indicated that there is an excellent window of opportunity to redress the injustice caused by the excision of the Chagos Archipelago from the territory of Mauritius with the expiry of the UK-US arrangements on the use of the archipelago in 2016.

I informed the British Prime Minister that I intend, during a proposed visit to Washington, to put across our proposal that all three States sit together and come to an agreement on the sovereignty issue without causing any prejudice to the continued use of Diego Garcia as a military base to meet prevailing security needs. The British Prime Minister took note of this initiative vis-à-vis the United States.

Petroleum Gas Terminal
On 19 June 2012, the Minister of Industry, Consumer and Consumer Protection, Cader Sayed Hossen,had to answer a PNQ on the project for the construction of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Terminal in Port Louis, and to state the reasons for the choice of United Petroil Ltd., to partner with the State Trading Corporation.

Boskalis
On 26 June 2012 in regard to the Boskalis affair, Paul Berenger asked the Prime Minister why the Independent Commission Against Corruption has handed over the case to the Police after 4 years? The Prime Minister explained that on 24 July 2008, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), on its own, initiated an investigation against Mr Mohammed Siddick Chady following the publication of an article where allegations were made to the effect that a sum of USD 25,000 had been transferred by Boskalis International, a dredging company based in The Netherlands in favour of Mr M. S. Chady, then Chairperson of the Mauritius Ports Authority. On 13 April 2012, ICAC referred the investigation on the Boskalis case to the Commissioner of Police after seeking the advice of the DPP.

Usurpation of identity at Central Prisons
On Tuesday 3 July 2012, in regard to the case in which Woman Police Constable N. R. and Mr S. S were arrested, the Prime Minister said “WPC N.R. was arrested on 31 May 2012 and brought before the District Court of Rose Hill on 01 June 2012. Provisional charges have been lodged against her as follows -
(i) “Aiding and Abetting” in the commission of a misdemeanour to wit: Usurping Public Function in breach of Section 182 coupled with Section 38(3) of the Criminal Code Act, and (ii) “Forgery by Public Officer” in breach of Section 106(c) of the Criminal Code Act.

Arms Trafficking
Friday 27 July 2012, the question was raised on ‘recent reported cases of attempts to use Mauritius for trafficking of arms, following an interim report from the Conflict Awareness Project.’ “Regarding the recent reported cases of attempts by foreign nationals to use a number of countries including Mauritius for trafficking of arms, wherein I stressed in no uncertain terms that the Mauritian Government is taking a very serious view of this matter and shall undertake whatever action necessary to prevent Mauritius and its institutions from being used for any illicit purposes. We will spare no effort to unflinchingly maintain our standing as a jurisdiction of sound repute, The Prime Minister told the National Assembly.

Electoral Reform Bill
On Tuesday 23 October 2012, the PNQ addressed to the Prime Minister was in regard to National Assembly Elections, in the matter of the requirement for prospective candidates thereto to identify themselves as members of one of the four categories of the Mauritian population, before the Human Rights Committee, acting under article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the reasons for the failure of the State to provide the Committee with an adequate justification as to why community affiliation has not been the subject of a census since 1972.

New ID Card
On 30 October 2012, Paul Bérenger questioned the Minister of Information and Communication Technology on the project for the introduction of a new National Identity Card;

Property Scam
Paul Bérenger came with a PNQ on the alleged property scam by Comaprim/ Zoobair & Osman Properties Ltd. involving the sale off-plan of luxury villas on Pas Géométriques and of the Centrepoint Complex. The Prime Minister said that “as a strategic move to develop the economy, Government instituted a scheme to allow a non-citizen who is registered as an investor with the Board of Investment to purchase an immovable property, a right to immovable property or part of a building for business purposes.I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that Police started enquiry into a case of “conspiracy to defraud” against Mr Mohammad Zoobair Dawood Timol and Mr Ousman Dawood Timol on 29 October 2010. Police enquiry is ongoing. “

MITD recruitment
On Saturday 17 November 2012, in reply to Paul Bérenger, Dr Bunwaree informed the House that one Mrs Y. M. had been employed as Instructor (Information Technology) from 01 July 2010 to 11 June 2012. Following the representations received, it was established after enquiries conducted by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) that she possessed fake certificates. It had also been found that she had been convicted by the District Court for having produced fake documents to the Public Service Commission. 

The contract of Mr N. C, instructor, was terminated in January 2012, following information received that Mr N. C had been arrested on 24 January 2012, for the offence of breach of protection order sought by his wife against him, a matter pertaining to his personal family life. But regarding a case of alleged sexual relationship with one of his students reported in November 2011, the MITD conducted an enquiry in December 2011, chaired by the-then Director himself and he convened all the people he thought right and he also gave Mr N.C. a hearing on the matter. An enquiry was also conducted at the level of the CDU and no report had subsequently been received from the CDU. It must be highlighted that the minor student denied the allegation and no statement was made by her to the Police. The Board of the MITD subsequently approved the reinstatement of Mr N. C.

PRB Report
On Monday 19 November, the leader of the Opposition wanted to know how the PRB Report was approved by Government when the recommendations thereof widen the gap between the highest and the lowest paid civil servants, indicating the requests submitted by the Unions in relation thereto, including if they have proposed an interim wage increase. The Prime Minister indicated that Government, decided to extend the scope of eventual corrective measures not only to errors and omissions but also to alleged anomalies. This decision was communicated to the representatives of the Trade Unions. It was further agreed that the Committee set up to look into Errors and Omissions and alleged anomalies should submit its Report by the end of February 2013.

Bangaleea affair
On Tuesday 20 November Paul Bérenger’s question focused Hemant Bangaleea, arrested on18 November 2012, on the provisional charges of swindling, forgery and instructions to commit murder. The Prime Minister, gave details of the transactions of Hemant Bangaleea, and reported how one Nitesh Ramdhary was attacked by two unknown persons at Balaclava.

Gros Derek
On Monday 26 November, the leader of the Opposition wanted to know from the Prime Minister whether in regard to the Gros Derek case, if the Anti Drug & Smuggling Unit, the National Security Service, the National Coast Guard, the Mauritius Revenue Authority or the Financial Intelligence Unit had detected the existence of the Gros Derek drug ring over the recent years and, if so, the actions taken.The Prime Minister stated that the Gros Derek drug ring has, in fact, been under close but discreet surveillance for quite some time as there was strong suspicion that the sea route was being used for drug trafficking.



Indradev Curpen

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