LALIT sent a letter to the Prime Minister last Thursday, 2nd June with a formal proposal to amend the Constitution so as to introduce Mauritian Kreol as one of the languages of the National Assembly. The letter contains detailed arguments on why conditions are ideal for such a change right now.
153 Main Road,
GRNW, Port Louis
208 2132, 208 5551
Republic of Mauritius
1 June, 2011
We would like once again to put forward to you, as Prime Minister, a very reasonable proposal: the introduction of Mauritian Kreol as one of the languages of the National Assembly.
This is a demand which you have in the past agreed to consider.
It is a measure which three other Parliamentary parties (the MMM, the FSM and the PMSD) have now publicly supported. It is a demand for which there is now overwhelming public enthusiasm. And it is something which LALIT, as you are no doubt aware, has, since its inception in 1976, been fighting for.
You have a window of opportunity during which you are assured of the necessary majority for the Constitutional Amendment we propose, as follows:
That Section 49 of the Constitution be amended from reading: “The official language of the Assembly shall be English, but any member may address the Chair in French,” as it now reads to, in future, after an amendment, reading: “The official languages of the Assembly shall be English and Mauritian Kreol, but any member may address the Chair in French or Bhojpuri.” Mauritian Kreol is spoken most of the time by 70% of the people, Bhojpuri by 12%, and both or one together with another language some 11%, which brings us to the figure of 93% for Kreol and Bhojpuri. (Taken from Census Figures.)
We also suggest that Section 33(d) of the Constitution would then become redundant, literacy qualifications being, as you will agree, anathema to democracy. The Constitution, at present, reads, “A person … shall not be qualified [as a Parliamentary candidate] unless, he – 33(d) is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of the Assembly.” This section should thus simply be revoked.
We come with this demand at this exact moment in history, because:
a) The Government has last week formally adopted an orthography for Mauritian Kreol, so any problem people used to believe would be posed for Hansard reporting no longer exists;
b) The question of the TV broadcasts of the National Assembly is being considered, at present, by Government, and it would be appropriate if the language issue were already resolved, so that people can understand any proceedings broadcast to the nation.
c) This change would represent a democratization of the National Assembly, in terms both of removing a limitation on candidature, on the one hand, and allowing the people to understand proceedings, including important ones like the Budget, on the other.
Copy to the Press.
LALIT 153 Main Road, GRNW, Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius www.lalitmauritius.org 230 208 5551