While many ultraliberal ideologues have been trying to turn Mauritius into the "Singapore of the Indian Ocean", the L'HEBDO Sunday paper has finally succeeded in turning Mauritius into the "Kuwait of the Indian Ocean".
Last Sunday, 15 July 2007, that weekly paper confirmed the "news of the century" announced in its previous Sunday edition: there is oil in the Mauritian territorial waters, just waiting to be pumped up. They even announced the depth at which the oilfields can be found, 1000 meters; the oil revenue that Mauritius can expect: 12 billion rupees (6 from import substitution, and 6 from exports!). Like good journalists, they sought and published the reactions of important people who understand the implications of this "miracle": Francis Piat, the previous director of Shell Mauritius, and Joel de Rosnay, an applied scientific research specialist. These eminent personalities commented on the possibilities of setting up refineries and on the effects this would all have on the environment. But curiously the journalists of L'HEBDO haven't seen fit to seek a reaction from our Minister of Energy, or indeed from the Government itself.
This "news of the century" would have been smile-worthy just after the First of April, when newspapers are full of "news" of the same ilk. It is not surprising that none of the other newspapers have bothered to follow up on this amazing news item; but what is perhaps more intriguing is that the other newspapers of the same "Le Defi" group has not seen fit to mention or even comment on news of such magnitude.
This amazing oil story just serves to teach us how we have to be discerning (and even suspicious and sceptical) when we rely on the media to keep ourselves informed as to what is going on around us. "Opinions" in various editorials are dodgy enough, but when it comes to what poses as facts, then it is rather more serious.