In the wake of the Commission of Inquiry report on drugs

In the wake of the Commission of Inquiry report on drugs

In the wake of the Commission of Inquiry report on drugs: Is the Prime Minister acting as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

The commitment to set up a Commission of Inquiry on Drugs was among the twelve pledges taken by the defunct L’Alliance Lepep, led by the Mouvement Socialiste Militant(MSM) prior to the 2014 general elections. The Commission was set up and Government chose retired and well respected Puisne Judge Paul Lam Shang Leen as Chairperson, assisted by two assessors namely Sam Lauthan and Dr Doomun. The incumbent Prime Minister and his predecessor together with other members of what remains of the ruling alliance have been shouting on roof tops since three years about this supposed achievement of theirs. Following a remarkable work, the Commission submitted its report which was made public on 27 July 2018.

The report turned up some startling truths and the immediate casualties  were MSM Deputy Speaker and Minister, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry and Roubina Jadoo-Jaunboccus respectively, who were forced to resign following certain findings of the commission. The Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, held a press conference on the very day the report was made public to announce the resignations and to comment on the publication of the report and its implementation. He made the report appear to be a feather in his cap. He gave an additional certificate of competence to Lam Shang Leen by appointing the latter to investigate into the disappearance of drugs at the Line Barracks. However, on the other hand he announced that his disgraced MSM members of parliament were flexing their legal muscles to challenge the report of the Commission of Inquiry. These two approaches stand in stark contrast and question the real intention of the Prime Minister.

Roubina Jadoo-Jaunboccus at first retained the services of Yusuf Mohamed, Senior Counsel to lodge a Judicial Review to contest certain findings of the report, Mohamed being the father of the leader of the Labour Party Parliamentary Group. Thereafter, she had a change of mind or she was convinced to have so  and retained the services of a more politically correct Counsel. Without in any way challenging the competence of the latter, one cannot remain indifferent to the fact that he has been Counsel for the Prime Minister and has been appointed as legal adviser in a number of parastatal organizations, appointments which have been made politically. He has also appeared as counsel for some other MSM notorieties. There is no shadow of doubt as to his proximity to the Government of the day. One is, therefore, convinced that Jadoo-Jaunboccus has the blessings of the MSM establishment. This is contradictory as the Prime Minister and leader of the MSM does not lose an occasion to pat his own back on the report of the commission of inquiry and his apparent fight against the scourge of drug trafficking. One remains really perplexed as to where the Prime Minister really stands .

In  an interview Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, while still being an MSM member of parliament, and the MSM polit-bureau, widely criticized the report of the commission and went to the extent of stating that the chairperson of the Commission is a Labour Party agent. He seems to forget that the choice of the chairperson was that of his Government and the report is that of the commission, comprising of two other members. It goes without saying that the Government screened the three persons through the  National Secret Service, prior to their appointments. The Prime Minister hid under the blanket of silence in the face of such a serious allegation against Lam Shang Leen. The silence is being interpreted as a steadfast backing.

Ravi Rutnah,Barrister for Teeluckdharry and also Government member of parliament requested by way of letter dated 22 August, 2018 to Navin Beekharry, Director General of ICAC to start an investigation on Paul Lam Shang Leen. The letter requests mainly for disqualification from immunity of the chairperson as provided for under section 12 of the Commission of Inquiry Act 1944. Anyone with little legal acumen will know that this is not the forum to challenge immunity. The Director General of ICAC is being asked by Rutnah to act ultra vires, strip Lam Shang Leen of his statutory immunity and thereafter investigate on him. This is the epitome of intellectual dishonesty. He further stated that Lam Shang Leen was and still is professionally associated to a Chambers closely linked with members of the Bar close to the Mauritius Labour Party, who have campaigned against Sanjeev Teeluckdharry and in favour of Navin Ramgoolam .It is known that Lam Shang Leen is somewhat associated with the Chambers of Joy Beeharry. The latter was a Labour Party candidate in 2000 and remained close to the party until around 2011. He, thereafter, took his distance for reasons best known to himself. I am sure the Labour Party can vouch that he was neither directly nor indirectly involved with its electoral campaign leading to the 2014 general elections. In any event, Pravind Jugnauth again remained mute in the face of these allegations from his Government’s Deputy Chairman of Committees. Does the Prime Minister fear his parliamentarians and does not have the guts to call them to order or is he giving them tactical support to tarnish the reputation of the chairperson of the commission and discredit the report.

The Prime Minister is on the one hand praising the report of the commission of inquiry and using it as a trump card for electoral purposes and on the other hand he is remaining silent in the face of continuous attacks from his own parliamentarians against the same commission and its chairperson.  His silence is being widely interpreted as acquiescence. Is he publicly supporting Paul Lam Shang Leen and privately, his parliamentarians? One cannot but conclude that the Honourable Prime Minister is acting as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

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