The end of a year always brings with it the sentiment of something new ahead. It’s the time for most of us to take a deep breath, maybe take a timeout and come back ready to face the coming year with the full force and energy we need. It’s a time for new beginnings, fresh starts and a renewed sense of hope.
Undoubtedly the biggest moment of 2014 for Mauritius was the outcome of the general elections. Called early by then Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, interesting alliances followed and a growing public distaste seemed to take place. Political alliances in Mauritius can be likened to that of marriages and divorces, which precisely what happened. The ruling Labour Party and Mouvement Militant Mauricen (MMM) joined forces and on the other side, the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien (MSM), Parti Mauricien Sociale Democrat (PMSD) and Muvman Liberater (ML) aligned.
The elections were not only a shock that they were called for early but in the results themselves that saw Navin Ramgoolam stripped of his title and the opposition alliance walking away with a firm majority in government too. Sir Anerood Jugnauth made a surprising come back to not only politics but power also when he was installed once more as the country’s Prime Minister.
The events that followed included the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) director general, Dan Callikan resigning, a tight lockdown on all state land recipients for the last five years and the more recent sacking of the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) director general.
Though all of the above mentioned events dominated the latter part of our year, we cannot forget the other happenings that Mauritius experienced. One of the more notable newsworthy items was that of the introduction of the biometric ID Cards. The intense conversion campaign kicked off in stages to allow different age groups to make the change to the new card. What was more notable however was that a certain part of the population was heavily against the entire system and fought to postpone its implementation. Though measures like fines and even prison sentences were put forward to encourage people to cooperate, the elections brought some reprise and have seen the deadline extended into 2015.
2014 in Mauritius was also not without some egg on the face of the former government who managed to lose the domain rights for its highly talked about government portal [www.gov.mu]. Alleged non-payment of the domain fees led to its suspension and then subsequent closure where the site was put up for auction due to its high volume of traffic it attracts.
Looking abroad, the world also saw its fair share of events through the year; some more sad than others while some still have us wondering how or why it could happen. The outbreak of Ebola into West Africa and it sudden prolific spread caused a great deal of death and panic in the greater worldwide community, more so when the disease looked like it was beginning to enter into other western parts of the world. From deadly disease outbreaks to airplanes going missing in mid air, 2014 has seen its fair share of global drama too. Both a Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia plane have gone missing with the Malaysian Airliner drama still as much of a mystery now as it was when it happened back in March. An even sadder fate awaited another of Malaysia Airlines airplanes when it was shot out of the sky over Ukraine after intense unrest in the region was getting out of hand.
Meanwhile other countries like India also went through some much-needed change after the election saw Narendra Modi elected as the new Prime Minister. Similarly in the United Kingdom, Scotland got its day to host a referendum that would decide on whether the country would stay part of the UK or would become independent. After the intense period of rallying and debates that dominated world news, the country eventually voted to remain part of the UK.
Sadly, rounding up world events for 2014 is also not without its share of violence either. The American town Ferguson in Missouri erupted into devastation after an altercation between a young black man and police officer resulted in the man being shot dead. Riots followed and police in the area battled to maintain order for days to come. Similarly we saw our share of terrorist activity across the world ranging from the Boko Haram in Nigeria to ISIS in the Middle East and even some odd occurrences of people in Canada and Australia causing upheaval in the parliament and in a hostage situation respectively.
Moving outer space too, 2014 was a momentous year for space travel and exploration when the Philae Lander made touchdown on a moving comet millions of miles away. The highly publicized event saw the world watching as the lander made contact with earth after the 10 year mission reached its peak.
Then coming back to earth but in virtual reality. A much-anticipated motion picture produced by Sony was cut short before it was able to premiere after a cyber attack halted its release. The attack, which is said to have come from North Korea, caused uproar and brought into question the whole idea of freedom of speech. The film, which centres on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has prompted the United States government to step in vowing that cyber crime, no matter where it originated from, should be seriously looked at.
Lastly, but by no means least, the love of the beautiful game of Football hit all television screens across the world bringing everything else to a halt pretty much. Termed as one of the most shocking tournaments to date in terms of results and team success, the world watched as Germany walked away with the title.
Reflecting back on the year we can see that it has seen much sadness and oppression. Though there have been moments of joy and glimpses of hope in the mix, it leaves us with the sentiment that 2015 needs to be a better year.
The future is our only chance of changing how events will pan out and this is only achieved when we take stock of the past and of course learn from it. There is always room for improvement when it comes to how we act and the decisions we take and perhaps it is time that, especially in Mauritius, we look toward bettering all our lives instead of focusing on greed and self preservation.
The world and our island will only be able to function properly when we collectively stand together and work towards improving the situation as a whole. Perhaps 2015 will be the advent of a new way of thinking and acting? Hope is my keyword for the upcoming year. Let us all hold on strongly to its power and work towards executing better policy and plans for society. Bring on 2015!