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Mauritius Media at a Glance: 15 August 2007


Quote: " ou les preoccupations financieres des actionnaires de presse comptent davantage que l'interet public": the Chief Editor of Le Mauricien sees that this could be a definite possibility in the newspapers of the Rupert Murdoch press empire. In any case that is what he wrote in his 15 August editorial, where he was dealing with the "slave labour in the Mauritian EPZ" campaign in the british press.

If the same thing were to be suggested for his own newspaper, he would probably leap right out of his trousers and be mortally offended. There is in general in journalistic circles in Mauritius, the sad illusion that reporters, columnists, and editors are totally independent souls who are free to write what they want, decide the editorial line of their newspaper, regardless of the interests and wishes of the directors and share-holders of their company. Those press employees may even argue that they write with the national interest, whatever that might be, at heart.

At the L'Express newspaper, the ordinary journalists will deny completely that there is such a thing as a MCB-Philip Forget- Beachcomber- Malenn Oodiah- Empowerment Fund- L'Estrac axis (dedicated to Sithanen economic policies) that determines the overall content of their newspaper.

But anybody who has read carefully the L'Express paper in the past month or so, will have noticed that that paper has given itself as immediate mission, the glorification of the Empowerment Fund set up by Sithanen and run by L'Estrac, the ideological defence of the "historical bourgeoisie" behind the MCB, and the support for the specific section of that bourgeoisie in the tourist hotel industry. This campaign has so far taken the form of one virulent article by Philip Forget, occasional editorials, and a series of columns by Oodiah, all attacking frontally the ideas put forward by Cader Syed Hossen, of the Labour Party Democratisation Committee. We will all remember how alarmed the Sithanen camp followers were after the Minister threatened to resign following open resistance to his economic policies, precisely from the Syed Hossen/ Nita Deerpalsing tendancy. This time there seems to be a Sithanen Support Committee at the L'Express paper in charge of publicly attacking any wing within the Social Alliance government that may slow down, even slightly, the ultra-liberal tsunami of Sithanen.

While doing his little job, Oodiah even tries to paint the historical bourgeoisie as the true architects of modern Mauritius, developing infrastructure, and effectively fighting poverty. He simply forgets to mention the fact that the money that his employers at the New Mauritius Hotel group put into their "Corporate Social Responsibility" funds, comes from the super-profits made by the group from the same depreciation of the rupee that has produced massive widespread poverty and hardship.

But then Malenn Oodiah takes great care to let people know that he writes a lot of good sense; with rare modesty he calls his column "BON SENS". Just as well, otherwise readers could easily jump to the conclusion that he writes a load of tripe.