A Photo in a Million

Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago

Guy Rozemont with his usual knack of firing the imagination of the masses foiled the anti-Hindus with their own weapons

This photo of the late Hon Guy Rozemont was taken immediately after the proclamation of the results of the 1953 elections.

At that time, cries of Hindu hegemony, annexation of Mauritius to India and screams about Mr Koenig’s bateau langouti were loudest but Guy Rozemont with his usual knack of firing the imagination of the masses foiled the anti-Hindus with their own weapons.

(Mauritius Times – Friday 6th April 1956)

 * * *

Une Concurrence Déloyale

Une cinquantaine de Rodriguais ont été importés pour concurrencer les milliers de chômeurs du pays. Un délégué est venu nous porter plainte, en nous disant qu’on lui avait offert du travail comme laboureur sur la propriété Sans Souci à Rs 5 la journée mais qu’il ne touche que Rs 2.00 à Rs 2.25 par journée de travail ; certains travailleurs ont à subvenir aux besoins d’une femme et de plusieurs enfants et ils n’ont pas de quoi acheter les provisions de la semaine avec les maigres gages qu’ils touchent, qu’ils sont logés dans des cahutes en très mauvais état, n’ont ni cuisine, ni salle de bains et que pénétrer dans un cabinet d’aisance c’est s’exposer à contracter des maladies transmissibles.

Nous avons écrit au Commissaire du travail le priant de déléguer son adjoint pour aller enquêter sur les lieux et prendre les dispositions nécessaires pour améliorer l’existence des laboureurs importés. La meilleure solution c’est de retourner à Rodrigues les travailleurs importés pour concurrencer les chômeurs du pays qui meurent de faim.

L’année dernière, les autorités ont expulsé une Mauricienne installée à Rodrigues, elle fut contrainte de vendre ses animaux, sa maison et ses plantations à vil prix parce qu’elle concurrençait ses sœurs, les travailleuses de Rodrigues.

Wilferid L’Etang
Vice Président du Parti Travailliste

(Mauritius Times – 13th April 1956)

 * * *

Mauritius Times’ representative writes to London Times

To the Editor of the Times
Sir,

The proposals for the new constitution in Mauritius contain two suggestions that are wholly bad. I refer to the proposal to retain up to 12 nominated members in the Legislative Council, and to the suggestion that Proportional Representation be adopted as the voting system. As a colony advances to self-government, the number of nominees in the Legislative Council should lessen. This is not the case in the Mauritian proposals. If, however, there are to be nominees, they should be appointed by the Governor after consultation with the leader of the majority party, or else represent definite scheduled interests. I refer as a precedent to the dispatch on the Malayan Constitution from Mr Malcolm MacDonald in 1954. Neither of these alternatives is met in Mauritius.

In the particular circumstances of Mauritius, Proportional Representation is the worst possible method of voting. It will emphasize in the Legislative Council the racial and religious differences among sections of the population. Instead of promoting national unity and racial harmony, Proportional Representation will accentuate and perpetuate racial and religious differences, to the detriment of the possible eventual emergence of a spirit of pan-Mauritian consciousness. It is true that Mauritius has a plural society, but so have Trinidad and Malaya, and no one has ever sought to impose Proportional Representation there. If this retrograde step is accepted, Mauritius will be the only colony with such a voting system.

Running throughout the constitutional proposals and the dispatch of the Governor of Mauritius, Sir Robert Scott, is the implication that Labour representation in the Legislative Council should be weakened; and Proportional Representation as the voting system will do so. This means that the proposals will confer sectional advantage on the minority by denying social and political justice to the majority.

Your Port Louis correspondent recently referred to the Mauritius Times as a “Hindu nationalist” weekly. May I say that it is nothing of the sort. My paper is an independent democratic weekly; any nationalism which appears therein is Mauritian nationalism. And with reference to your own recent leading article, it is untrue to say that the Hindus are in a large majority. The Hindus numbered, at the 1952 census, some 258,000; the non-Hindus, i.e. the Muslims, General Population and Sino-Mauritians, numbered some 243,000. A majority of 15,000 in half a million cannot be construed as large.

I am, sir, yours faithfully,

Peter Ibbotson
London Representative, Mauritius Times
100, Canonbie Road S.E. 23

* The Hindu majority is, in effect, large because the minorities are not likely all to combine against the majority.

Published in The Times – April 2, 1956

(Mauritius Times – 13th April 1956)

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