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PNQ: At No Time, There Was An Attempt To Monitor Or Record The Internet Traffic Maintains The PM

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The Private Notice Question was about Sherry Singh’s was about allegations of instructions to allow sniffing, the total control of all our internet traffic to a foreign power.

The consequences of XLD’s PNQ – his microphone cut off!

The shortest Sitting in the history of the Mauritian Parliament on Tuesday 05 July! The Leader of the Opposition had barely started the lively part of his questioning. The PM was only able to say a few words in the first part of his denial: “At no time was there any installation or attempt by my office to install any equipment in any of the landing stations to allow the interception, monitoring or recording of Internet traffic to and from Mauritius. Several opposition members immediately cried high treason. The Speaker stopped the opposition leader dead in his tracks with his specific reference to “a phone call made on 15 April, at 10.18 am”. Sooroojdev Phokeer claimed that the PM had already responded to this part. He quoted “You are not allowed to insist on the question in light of the answer of the Hon PM on the basis of the wording of the PNQ…”. Standing Order 25 (5) states “A question which one Minister has refused to answer cannot be addressed to another Minister and a question answered by one Minister cannot be put to another”.  Xavier Luc Duval’s instance prompted the Speaker to say “I will switch off your mic”.

Retaliation and roaring of High Treason

Opposition members retaliated by shouting “treason” and holding up placards. This was followed by a series of expulsions, including Opposition Leader Xavier-Luc Duval, MMM leader Paul Bérenger and Purple MP Rajesh Bhagwan, PTr MP Mahen Gungapersad. Several other MPs were named including Shakeel Mohamed, Sik Yuen, Osman Mohamed, Ramphul, among others but also Fabrice David and Stéphanie Anquetil who refused to participate in the PMQT. The suspension was announced at one minute to the return of the parliamentarians to the parliamentary precinct, at 12.43pm, by the Speaker invoking Standing Orders.

Opposition

Arvind Boolell: “Never seen since 1987”

Opposition members held a joint press conference at the PMSD offices. While the Opposition Leader portrayed his disgust at being muzzled. He had three questions in reserve. As announced in the press conference, the first was: “Did he phone Sherry Singh on April 15, 2022, a Friday, at 10.18 a.m., before the Cabinet Meeting? Secondly, “Didn’t Mr Ballah, Head of Civil Service, phone Sherry Singh the day before with a request to allow a foreign party to conduct a survey of Mauritius Telecom’s equipment for the installation of an interceptor device?” and thirdly, “After Sherry Singh left, were there any further attempts to install sniffing equipment?

For Arvind Boolell, “Never seen such thing, I have been in parliament, since 1987. The sniffing Prime Minister has given us a cowardly and cowardly response. This confirms that Sherry Singh spoke the truth, we cannot have the charms of democracy in the face of this high treason by a Prime Minister. These are the consequences of this PNQ, this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said the PTr MLA while talking about the violations of democracy by the government. He insisted on a line of demarcation between power and institutions. The other opposition leaders and members all spoke in their own words about the high treason against democracy in the Republic of Mauritius.

Kailash Purryag, former Speaker of the National Assembly, said that Sooroojdev Phokeer’s refusal was not in accordance with the rules, which state that the Speaker should have allowed the Opposition Leader to complete his question before refusing it.

Joe Lesjongard and Manish Gobin

Joe Lesjongard and Manish Gobin defend the Speaker

“We deplore the attitude of the opposition. It was premeditated. They already had signs ready and they held them up in parliament. We already had that information,” said Joe Lesjongard, Minister of Energy and Utilities.

He went back to the opposition leader’s questions where “the Prime Minister’s answer was categorically No! He has by this answer assumed his responsibility to parliament and the people” he urged the opposition to make their evidence public to corner the Prime Minister and have an investigation launched instead of “making such accusations under the cover of parliamentary immunity for such accusations and making such theatrics”. Manish Gobin, Attorney General also agrees with his comrade Joe Lesjongard: “An investigation is based on evidence, not bluff. Let them prove it”. For Joe Lesjongard “the actions of a speaker cannot be discussed or commented on in this way. He is guided by the Standing Orders. The speaker is the master in the parliament, he has all the power. A parliamentarian has every right to ask him the reason for his decisions, which is his duty, but not by creating such a situation which is not acceptable in a parliament! The Speaker has the right to interrupt anyone in the House but he must back it up with precise Standing Orders.

On a question from the press about a possible stunt by the GM and the Speaker, Joe Lesjongard returned that ‘ball’ to the opposition. Manish Gobin reported that the opposition “is changing the language, they are now talking about Survey instead of instructions or facilities. They are playing politics. We also know how to play politics. Both ministers asked for patience on the matter of the allegations.

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