Sunday, 14 October 2012



Conspiracy against the BLS Minority-Protection System?

The majority has no right to remove any minority-protection system simply because minority protection is an inherent right of each individual minority and does not depend on the will of the majority or of a particular racist Lobby. Rama Sithanen, and Pr Singfat Chu by extension, may have the backing of the Church but the truth, as rightly pointed out by Me Yousuf Mohamed, Senior Counsel, is that any removal of minority protection for any minority community does have the potential to create social unrest in the country.  The minority-protecting Best Loser System (BLS) is the bedrock of our independence and stability.

Rama Sithanen, Archbishop Piat, Singfat Chu and Me Yousuf Mohamed

The Mauritian First Past The Post (FPTP) system does not yield just results, given that the population is not homogeneous, as it favours the majority community. The religious configuration of the Mauritian population is as follows : Hindus (49%), Christians (32%), Muslims (17%), Others 2%, while ethnically, the population is made up of Indian-Mauritians (68%), African-Mauritians (29%), Sino-Mauritians (2%), Euro-Mauritians (1%). Percentages are approximations.

The population is not evenly distributed and candidates are not elected by national votes but rather by votes at constituency levels, of which there are 20 (returning 3 candidates in each constituency) in Mauritius and 1 constituency in Rodrigues (returning 2 candidates). Moreover, there is no law which can decide what criteria a voter should use when casting his/her vote. A voter may decide to vote out of personal preference irrespective of the programme presented or vice versa. A voter may vote because the candidate is a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, an Indo-Mauritian, an Afro-Mauritian, etc. A voter may also vote because the candidate is black or white, man or woman.

Hindu majority and Independence
In general, therefore, FPTP yields skewed results in favour of the Hindu majority in that there tend to be more Hindu MPs compared to their percentage of the population. Strictly, Hindus have every right not to accept any form or reform which would dilute their majority even by one candidate.  They can easily argue that even though they are Hindus, there is nothing which prevents them from looking after the interests of all Mauritians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity. In fact, it would be unlawful to discriminate against anyone. PM Dr Ramgoolam may be a Hindu, but he is the PM of all Mauritians. The idea to add an arbitrary 20 MPs selected from unelected candidates in Party Lists, which favour large parties, allegedly on a PR basis to dilute the Hindu majority and to attack Muslims who justly regard themselves as a minority protected under the BLS is preposterous and should be rejected outright.

Before independence, based on the demands made by various communities in Mauritius, politicians trashed out and adopted a minority-protection system in London, called the Best Loser System (BLS), which can be said to have been a condition for independence, based on the Banwell recommendations as modified by Stonehouse and agreed upon by the three main political leaders Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Gaëtan Duval and Abdool Razack Mohamed. Most Muslims voted with most Hindus in favour of independence. For this system to operate, a candidate is required under the law to declare his/her community by way of life (Hindu, Muslim or Sino-Mauritian), or select the residual category General Population where the way of life does not apply. No minority-protection system can operate if the majority and minorities are not identified both in the population and amongst the candidates upon nominations. This is why a reasonably up to date census is important since it provides valuable demographic data. All modern countries use censuses to maintain social and political stability amongst their people. The BLS only allows the nominations of 8 unelected candidates from under-represented minorities, and it has been working well since independence in 1968. This system can also be extended to include women. BLS runs adjacent to FPTP. BLS is a reforming system in itself as it makes up where democracy as expressed via FPTP fails.

Rama Sithanen’s and Singfat Chu’s campaign against BLS
However, there has been a consistent campaign in a section of the population as well as in a section of the press against the fact that the Mauritian PM always tends to be a Hindu and, for some obscure reason, they tend to believe that the reforming BLS is at fault rather than the FPTP beast. People like former Finance Minister Rama Sithanen (January 2012 electoral reform report) and his acolyte Assoc. Pr Singfat Chu (Decisions Sciences) of the University of Singapore Business School want to respectively « subsume » and abolish the reforming BLS and replace it with a Proportional Representation system which will not touch the FPTP beast, but nominate an arbitrary extra 20 candidates amongst the unelected as MPs per the wishes of the leaders of large parties. Refer to Pr Chu’s articles published in Mauritius Times of 5th & 12th October 2012. This is the most ridiculous suggestion which anyone can propose, not to mention all the corruption which such a system carries in its entrails. It is beyond reason how any government could even entertain such suggestions.

The flaws in Rama Sithanen’s January 2012 report have been highlighted in the press. In several comments, Pr Chu’s, who Sithanen mentions in his report, has been trying to support Sithanen flawed analyses and formulae but was unable to convince people. Now that electoral reform seems to have been put on the back burner, Pr Chu comes out with his guns blazing in Mauritius Times against BLS in an attempt to revive the anti-BLS campaign. In his article « We do not need BLS » (Mauritius Times 5 Oct 2012), Pr Singfat Chu begins by attacking Me Yousuf Mohamed, Senior Counsel, son of the late Sir Abdool Razack Mohamed who negotiated BLS prior to independence to protect Muslims’ representation, for stating that the removal of the BLS minority protecting system would provoke social unrest in the country.

While Sithanen uses a French title « Initiative Citoyenne pour une réforme électorale réalisable à Maurice » for his report in English, without explaining what he means by « initiative citoyenne », which is a French political concept emanating from the French discriminatory politics of laïcité, Pr Chu speaks of « Mauritianism », translated from the original French term « Mauricianisme » (like « Créolisme »), again without explaining what this means. « Initiative citoyenne » and « Mauricianisme » are two sides of the same coin. If Indo-Mauritians decide to remove the Dutch name Mauritius and replace it with CHOTA BHARAT, where would ‘mauricianisme’ go?

Flaws in Sithanen’s report
The flaws in Sithanen’s January 2012 report are summarised below:

1. Sithanen selected no sample and carried no survey of the Mauritian population for whose benefit his report is supposed to be dedicated. He was more concerned with « political actors », his own « PhD thesis », some people and organisations of « good background », ranging from PM Dr Ramgoolam, Chief Justice Bernard Sik Yuen to Lindsey Collen of Lalit and Cehl Meeah, MP and leader of FSM, and Pr Singfat Chu. Sithanen is projected as an ‘expert’ on electoral reform when his PhD was in Politics and only his student thesis was on electoral reform. As an Economist myself, well-versed in Politics, Sociology, Finance, Statistical Methods, my student thesis was on banking; this would hardly make me an ‘expert’ in banking!

2. While complaining that the Carcassonne Report is « too radical a departure », Rama Sithanen wastes a lot of time on past history, constituency boundaries and electoral systems in other countries, such as Spain, the UK and Lesotho. He demonstrates his obsession with the Sachs & Carcassonne Reports. Sithanen criticises Carcassone for using the Spanish model, saying that « Electoral systems that are successful in almost homogeneous societies like Spain might not necessarily work in plural countries like Mauritius » (p.3), but then goes on to look at the « Outcome of elections in Spain 1979-2011 » and says « The same phenomenon  could very well happen in Mauritius » (pp.12-3).

3. While Christian parties exist in many of the countries Sithanen refers to, he wants the Mauritian government to « avoid communal parties » (p.27), which I suppose he means community-based parties as he confuses them with communes. But the Mauritian Constitution guarantees freedom of association. How can Sithanen prevent, for example, the Fédération des Créoles Mauricien (FCM) of Jocelyn Grégoire from registering as a political party and putting forward candidates for election? Perhaps, he is targeting some other community!

4. Sithanen says « One of the important issues facing democratic plural societies is the inclusion of diverse racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural groups in the political process » (p.36), but makes no recommendation to create a Christian constitutional category since General Population is a mere residual category « regarded » as a fourth community. Perhaps, at around 33% of the population, Christians do not consider themselves a ‘minority’, but rather as a « second majority », a view effectively shared by Rama Sithanen, hence the implicit backing of his recommendations by Archbishop Maurice Piat (ref. Maurice Piat’s Pastoral speech on Ash Wednesday 22nd Feb 2012 in which he backed the abolition of the BLS).

5. Rama Sithanen admits that the FPTP system is defective, yet he uses its defective electoral results to carry out simulations upon which he relies (pp.86-95). In fact, he is relying on amplified defective results to make his recommendations which do not even flow logically as those recommendations could have been made without those results anyway.

6. Rama Sithanen proceeds to measure « unfairness in electoral systems » (p.81) through the use of what he calls the Least Squares Index (LSq) formula which looks similar to a Standard Deviation formula, with a mysterious ½ inside the root, without quoting any reference where he got the formula from. His thinking is very linear. Electoral models are non-linear and any minimization (of anomalies) must be done by using iterative numerical algorithms which he has not used. He has not identified either the dependent or the independent variable in each case. He has not used multiple regression analysis nor used environmental control variables which are vital in electoral calculations and forecasts.

7. In his appendix (p.101), using the d’Hondt’s highest average method formula (which favours large parties), Rama Sithanen produces a table allegedly showing how PR seats are allocated in ‘compensatory’ mode. Under d’Hondt’s method, each party’s total number of votes are repeatedly divided by a fixed series of numbers : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and so on. The party which returns the highest figure at each stage of the exercise is entitled to a seat. But Sithanen applies the formula wrongly.  He uses the percentage of votes (rather than the actual votes) which he divides by the number of seats (rather than a fixed series of numbers) plus one (p.102). Also, why plus one?

8. Although Sithanen produced six pages of bibliography, he formulates no function, makes no assumptions about a fair and representative electoral system and tested none, for which he would have had to use the Lagrangean formula to test for any contradiction.

Like Sithanen, Pr Singfat Chu also carried out simulations on defective FPTP data. But, as Sithanen has been challenged on his wrong analyses and misuse of formulae, Pr Chu now tries to mop up the mess by ignoring Sithanen’s alleged mysterious OLS measure of « unfairness in electoral systems », which is central to his analyses, and by referring to some dubious « online d’Hondt PR calculator », instead of the one wrongly defined by Sithanen.

The BLS system is a minority protection system designed to repair the inherent anomalies in the results of FPTP. Why attack BLS? Candidates who dislike the system should be allowed to opt out. No minority-protection system can exist if the minorities it is designed to protect are not identified and compared with the majority community. The majority has no right to remove any minority-protection system simply because minority protection is an inherent right of each individual minority and does not depend on the will of the majority. BLS is the bedrock of our independence and stability. However, Hindus cannot be blamed for being the majority in order to make way, for example, for Christians like Paul Bérenger, often wrongly described as a ‘non-Hindu’. Rama Sithanen, and Pr Singfat Chu by extension, may have the backing of the Church through Archbishop Piat but the truth, as rightly pointed out by Me Yousuf Mohamed SC, is that any removal of minority protection for any minority community does have the potential to create social unrest in the country.

M Rafic Soormally
14th October 2012

Mauritius Times

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rafic Soormally <>
To: Mauritius Times <>
Cc: "" <>; "" <>; "" <>; "" <>
Sent: Sunday, 21 October 2012, 15:36
Subject: Fw: Conspiracy against the BLS Minority-Protection System?

Mr Madhukar Ramlallah

Again, you have boycotted my response to the flawed and inciting articles you have published in Mauritius Times in which attacks against Muslims have become commonplace.

This time, it concerns my response to Assoc. Prof. Singfat Chu of the University of Singapore. You published his pieces against the Mauritian Best Loser System for which mainly the Muslim minority has been fighting for the preservation of this minority-protection system, as it was a condition for the independence of Mauritius. Since you are a Hindu, and Mauritius Times is regarded as a Hindu weekly paper, you have been splashing various articles against Muslims, written by the likes of Dev Virhsawmy and Surendra Bissoondoyal. Now, we find Pr Singfat Chu joining the fray to effectively make a case against the protection of the Muslim minority within the BLS system with the backing of the Mauritian Catholic Church and given that at around 32% of the population, Christians do not really consider themselves as a minority but rather as a « 2nd majority » desperate for power.

In Pr Chu’s very first article « We do not need BLS », Mauritius Times of 5th October 2012, he begins by attacking the Muslim Barrister Me Yusouf Mohamed, former politician whose late father Sir Abdool Razack Mohamed fought for and secured the protection of the Muslim Minority via the BLS before independence, who rightly stated that the removal of the BLS minority-protection system could cause social unrest in the country. You prepared the scene in order to publish the following Friday, 12th October 2012, Pr Singfat Chu’s very inaccurate and misleading 2,027-word article « Which electoral system for Mauritius? » in which he resorted to flawed calculations based on corrupt data in order to support the equally flawed calculations of Rama Sithanen, former Minister of Finance of Mauritius.

Because Mauritius Times is a Hindu paper, Pr Singfat Chu probably felt that it was an appropriate platform to influence the Hindu majority. The fact that you have boycotted my attached reply « Conspiracy against the BLS Minority-Protection System? » emailed to you on 14th October 2012, is clear indication that you are biased and offering the columns of your Mauritius Times for a continuous campaign against Muslims.

You should not continue to use the name « Mauritius » in « Mauritius Times » because your paper does not represent the views of Mauritians generally. You should rename it, perhaps as « Ramlallah’s Times », « Hindu Times » or « Anti-Muslim Times ». Maybe you should merge with an anti-Muslim daily. You are giving anti-Muslim campaigners a licence in the columns of your paper while boycotting rights of reply. But rest assured that it will not be long before I file an objection against your use of the name « Mauritius » in « Mauritius Times ». As a Mauritian, I have every right to file such complaint. However, although you are boycotting my rights of reply, you have no right to do so. You are a shame to independent journalism.

Yours sincerely

M Rafic Soormally

cc.        Assoc. Pr Singfat Chu, University of Singapore, Email :
            Ms Normah A Majid, HR Management Unit, UoS, Email :
            Prof Bernard Yeung, Dean, UoS, Email :
            Assoc. Prof Krishnan Trishi, Vice-Dean, UoS, Email :

  1. Articles of Pr Singfat Chu published in Mauritius Times of 5th & 12th October 2012
  2. My boycotted reply « Conspiracy against the BLS Minority-Protection System? » emailed to Mr Ramlallah on 14th October 2012.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rafic Soormally <>
To: Mauritius Times <>
Sent: Sunday, 14 October 2012, 14:15
Subject: Conspiracy against the BLS Minority-Protection System?

Mr Ramlallah

Please find attached my reply to Pr Singfat Chu's misleading, inaccurate and flawed articles against the BLS published in MTimes edition of 5th & 12th Oct 12.


Mr M Rafic Soormally


We* do not need BLS

Sino-Mauritian** Professor Singfat Chu

Professor Singfat Chu PDF Print E-mail

With the government having to decide on the fate of the BLS before the expiry of the 180-days deadline granted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, we need to contribute objectively to the debate. 

Sadly, Mr Yousuf Mohamed made several emotional and factually incorrect statements in the interview published last Friday (Sep 28). I condone anyone who makes statements like, “… Si vous voulez abolir, allez y, mais attention! Ce sera la pagaille, il y aura des bagarres… ». Not only is this emotional and a deterrent to any serious debate, but it is vacuous unless Mr Mohamed has a crystal ball which allows him to see the future. Could he be looking at the wrong side of the rainbow? 

Has BLS made a significant difference to the representation of communities in our National Assembly? Let’s examine the statistics. In the 10 general elections held between 1967 and 2010, the communal split among the 620 (=10 x 62) “First Past the Post” elects has been 368 : 156 : 85 : 11. After the application of BLS which brought in another 67 elects, the respective split became 371 : 203 : 102 : 11. Clearly, one community has never obtained any BLS seat but Mr Mohamed incorrectly states that it is among the two that have benefitted the most from BLS! 

The above splits which translate into 59.4% : 25.2% : 13.7% : 1.8% pre-BLS and 54.1% : 29.4% : 14.8% : 1.6% post-BLS indicates that BLS has hardly made a significant difference in the representation of communities. Beyond statistics, has BLS ever made a difference in the deliberations in the National Assembly? Has anyone dissented from party stand and voted along community line? The fact is BLS has benefited individuals rather than communities! And it is these very individuals who are now unsurprisingly among the most vocal to maintain it.

I concur that BLS provided assurance at the time of Independence but in 44 years of existence, it has yet to make any significant difference to the representation of communities or in the articulation of “communal” opinions at the National Assembly. There is no little reason to fear its retirement. Moreover, some constituencies are deliberately carved to favour the election of minorities. I submit that there is greater shortfall potential in the representation of communities in “equalizing” constituencies across the country than in removing BLS. 
If an electoral reform takes place in the form of a mixed Proportional system comprising FPTP*** and Party List elects, fair and even enhanced minority representation will take place as long as parties place say 6 minority candidates in the top 8-10 positions in their party lists. Beyond fair community representation, party lists can bring in more women and representatives of interest groups e.g. handicapped, unions, etc.

In conclusion, I concur with Mr Yousuf Mohamed that, “…Nous sommes tous des Mauriciens malgré le Best Loser System.” But I invite him to reflect and just envision how Mauritianism****, which we have been striving for since Independence, can leapfrog without BLS. 

*           Who is "We"?

**      Sino-Mauritians are usually Catholics or Buddhists or both!  They attend Church and benefit from its privileges and worship Buddha at home!

***        First Past The Post
****      Catholic Church Nationalist Black Creole ethnic centered ideology

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Par:-  Lindsay Rivière

On 14/10/2012

Alors que les évolutions semblaient se préciser rapidement en 2012 pour un large « rethinking » du système électoral et du futur modèle de république, un fl ou pesant se réinstalle. Les deux acteurs déterminants du jeu, le Premier ministre et le leader de l’opposition, peu à peu

se retrouvent tous deux étonnamment sur la défensive, leur capacité à entraîner leurs parties respectifs dans leurs projets compromise, leurs stratégies politiques sur ces questions mises en doute dans leurs propres camps, les tactiques adoptées pour parvenir à leurs fins discrètement questionnées, autant en interne qu’en externe. Les choses se compliquent pour Navin Ramgoolam et Paul Bérenger.

Cette situation est relativement inedited pour les deux hommes, habitués à canaliser le débat et à remporter l’argument sans grande diffi culté. Elle pourrait bien, à terme, paralyser le jeu politique. De quoi s’agit-il ?
Pour la première fois, cette semaine, Navin Ramgoolam a fait valoir les vigoureuses oppositions internes au Parti travailliste (PTr) contre ses positions personnelles, à la fois sur la représentation proportionnelle (source de suspicion depuis 1963 en milieu hindou travailliste), sur le « Best Loser System » (sujet sensible en milieu musulman) et sur le modèle de présidence exécutive proposé. Ramgoolam n’a pas pour habitude de communiquer les frustrations de son entourage. Soit il le fait aujourd’hui pour se donner devant Bérenger une justifi cation pour traîner la jambe et diluer éventuellement les réformes. Soit il veut convaincre l’opinion publique de sa détermination à imposer la modernité aux récalcitrants. Ou alors, le PM est vraiment face à un os dur à faire avaler au PTr et joue donc son autorité.

 Il y a plusieurs raisons pour lesquelles le PTr pourrait ne pas s’enthousiasmer des propositions de réforme électorale et de nouvelle république de son leader. C’est la peur (davantage que le désir de justice) qui motive le plus tout changement de comportement politique. Or, le PTr aujourd’hui n’a pas peur de l’opposition MMM. Sauf en cas de lourde défaite (mais, valeur du jour, improbable), comme en 1982 et 2000, le PTr n’a aucun intérêt direct à favoriser un Parlement élargi qui rééquilibrerait le jeu, au profi t de l’opposition. Avec les circonscriptions actuelles, le PTr se coule (comme dans un gant) dans un système électoral FPTP qui lui convient parfaitement. Il encourage donc le PM à « ne pas prendre de risques ».
Le parti est tout aussi conscient que la proposition de présidence exécutive de Ramgoolam fait peut-être l’affaire personnelle de celui-ci mais ne fait pas forcément l’affaire de l’ensemble du Parti travailliste. Président exécutif au Réduit, travaillant à sa gloire personnelle, faisant les alliances qu’il souhaiterait dans ce but, Ramgoolam échapperait peu à peu au PTr. Ses liens actuels avec celui-ci se relâcheraient. Tout le « networking » sociopolitique du régime en place serait compromis et beaucoup de parasites en souffriraient.
L’une des raisons (moins connues du grand public) qui motivent Ramgoolam dans sa quête d’un pouvoir légitimé directement par le peuple est qu’il en a plus qu’assez d’avoir à personnellement s’esquinter à 65 ans pour faire en permanence campagne aux quatre coins de l’île pour faire élire une majorité de députés rouges/bleus (souvent des nonvaleurs et des candidats médiocres avec pour seule qualifi cation leur « profi l » sociologique) sur lesquels reposera son pouvoir et dont il dépendra pour gouverner. Navin Ramgoolam se sert du parti mais le parti se sert tout autant de lui et chaque élu rouge exploite à fond l’image populaire du PM. L’idée d’un Ramgoolam président, prenant de la hauteur dans une deuxième République, cajolant en permanence Bérenger, s’éloignant par la force des choses du parti, abandonnant le BLS, exaspérant les musulmans et laissant les rouges se battre sans la locomotive Ramgoolam dans leurs régions, terrorise certains au PTr. Lesréticences pourraient donc s’amplifi er au fil des mois.

En face, Paul Bérenger est également « on the back foot ». Aux yeux d’une bonne partie de l’opinion publique, le « remake » avec un MSM qu’il accusait hier de tous les péchés de la terre, est un « non-starter ». Ses tactiques de louvoiement permanent face aux enjeux ont exaspéré. Son manque d’engagement dans des causes chères à la jeunesse et ses propositions équivoques ont largement déçu. Sa crédibilité publique n’a peut-être jamais été autant entamée. Seule la crainte qu’il inspire le sauve de sévères critiques publiques de ses propres amis. Face à la mauvaise humeur populaire, Bérenger a choisi de se faire plus discret. Mais a-t-il encore l’autorité politique susceptible d’entraîner l’ensemble de l’opinionpublique MMM dans ses calculs ?

Pour véritablement reprendre la main, et Navin Ramgoolam et Paul Bérenger ont besoin de frapper les esprits par une grande victoire électorale aux municipales. En y allant crânement, le PM tuerait dans l’oeuf toute velléité de contestation interne et établirait une autorité sans faille lui permettant d’imposer ses propositions. Bérenger, lui, soulignerait que, malgré ses déboires, il demeure incontournable, peut se faire tout pardoner et établirait au grand jour que sa stratégie de « remake » tant critiquée est une vraie option jouable et gagnable. Peut-être est-ce là, dans l’affi rmation de nouveaux rapports de force, davantage que dans le strict respect des échéances, que le pays retrouvera ses meilleures chances d’électionsmunicipales et régionales en décembre.

 Lindsay Rivière

On 14/10/2012

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