Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Seychelles Column - By Christopher Gill

Seychelles Communists Are Suffering From National Multiple Disorder 

The Seychelles Communists Party is exposing their serious state of mind disorder in the month of June. 
On June 5th, they claim that they are liberators. But the person they liberated themselves from, Sir James Mancham, a deposed President, sits besides them in public meetings, he is offered VIP status under their government and is pensioned. In public rallies, they proclaim quite arrogantly, “Se Nou Ki Lepep!”

Sir James Mancham 
That is the pitch for the days leading up to June 5th.

June 5th Fiasco

The focus of attention on June 5th, is Zomn Lib, a metal statute, designed proudly by Pauline Ferrari when she was a Youth Pioneer in the One Party State Dictatorship, when the Communists of Seychelles restricted overtly and openly basic human freedoms. This included the jailing of descendants, the exiling of many, and the acquisition of lands belonging to Seychellois. They argued that the acquisition of lands was necessary to redistribute land to the landless to correct historical injustices. That does not explain why they exiled so many Seychellois, and today, they do not have the right to vote as bona fide citizens of the land. Many as Dr. Jose Souyave, travel regularly to Seychelles, own business interests here, that are very substantial and pay more then their fair share of taxes, but cannot vote. It equates to taxation without representation, and the Communists, will be happy to know, that this very concept, is what led to the American Revolution in 1776, when the Colonists declared Independence from King George of the England.

Zonm Lib Statue - Representing oppression rather than freedom
Today, this is what June 5th, has given us, Taxation without representation, it has given us a party that calls themselves, Lepep, and they say “Se Nou Ki Lepep”. Fair enough, but that represents if at all only  48% of the population legitimately, at best based on historical comparisons. The remaining percentages are scammed through rigging of the Voters List. We know it has been alleged and not denied, that as much as 5,000 votes can be rigged, and this last election a tremendous effort was made to rig an extra 2,000.

The opposition should unite, and demand that the sham elections be cancelled and run another one with UN and Commonwealth conducting the elections. I am 100% sure, James Michel will lose by a large substantial margin. In the meantime, a BOYCOTT of the National Assembly must be maintained and respected by all parties.

“Se Nou Ki Lepep”

The gross inference of “Se Nou Ki Le Pep”, is that if you do not support the Communists party of Seychelles, you do not form part of the people of Seychelles. This mental voyage that the Communist party has taken neglects to reflect accurately on the state of the nation, if it was made up of only their supporters.

In actuality, the country would be made up of the royal family Adam’s and Savy’s. Most of them are Communists, but they are the millionaire type, earning great wealth off the lard of national assets.

Anyone want to mess with Glenny?    Or David?                          Or Little Rene (oops Francis)?

After that, there are the Faure’s, and Herminie’s who have become administrators. Beyond that, is a mass of bakka drinkers, and dust kicking  dancers who shake their ass at anything red, with a poor level of productivity and a high level of social welfare dependency.

Danny Faure. Cuban Trained Future Leader????

Future Leader???? God help Seychelles

To put it nicely, the country would seize if the opposition are excluded from the Seychelles population.

Change State of Mind on June 18th

By the time June 18th, the National Day of the 3rd Republic rolls around, it is evident to the President and the Cabinet, that they cannot face the challenges of National Bankruptcy, without the whole 100% of the population supporting program cuts, and efforts to increase national productivity.

By June 18th, it is apparent, each year, the Communists come down from their clouds of June 5th, and we start to witness the transformation of their multiple mental disorder as they appeal for reconciliation with the Nation.

Before June 18th, they embarrassingly send out songs on the radio to tell the people subliminally to : “Koste”, or “Unite”, or even “put your problems and national failures in a corner and forget about them” (Chicco- nice jingle but advise that can come only from a fool).

June 18th, A Cover Up For Failure

Our National Day has become a major effort to cover up our innate failures under the Communists. The parade is the same Communist parade show you would see in North Korea or Ukraine every year. The goose step is the same that Hitler used to march upon Europe in WWII.

Since we do not have enough soldiers anymore to make a parade, they toss in children into the march, Police, Fire Brigade, and some visiting military personnel that are in port from different countries.

This seems to cover up the failings of the defense forces well. Cars are washed and polished, and the President has a group of side cars to escort him alone. His wife has to take another vehicle to the parade. IMF should look into this highly autocratic expense and practice. 
The side cars were donated from Morocco and these units could have been consigned to the Police, where they are badly needed, but they stay in an air conditioned garage all year long instead; another sign of failing, but this time it is the Police of their duties to reduce crime and increase patrols. 

The Autocrat Speaks

This year, James Michel came out of his shell. With a divided opposition against him, and a faltering lead opposition not even threatening his bad ideas, even remotely, he was 100% himself.

It is in being himself that he allows us to DNA his autocrat style.

Michel called for another opposition, and not the one that exist now, the inference, being, he will replace the opposition. One does not get more autocratic then that, but he did. No leader in a democratic country can choose an opposition. That is a sham democracy, as Seychelles has become under Michel. It has come from his own mouth, not mine.

Michel set out an elaborate snakes and ladder of conditions the opposition must meet for him to engage in discussion with them. That is very autocratic. In which democracy does a leader set out conditions for discussions? Dialogue does not have conditions set to it? Who is Michel to set conditions? Is he some kind of super Citizen? I suppose in his own mind, he is.
Michel playing snakes & ladders

Michel said again, he will destroy Xenophobic ideas in Seychelles once and for all. This is highly autocratic in that he is overtly restricting the free flow of ideas and information in the society, a violation of the Human Rights Charter of the Seychelles Constitution, on National Day.
Michel is not much of a scholar, and seems to misunderstand the opposition’s ideas on foreigners in Seychelles. It is not being foreigner in Seychelles that the opposition opposes, it is the selling of passports and the selling of  citizenship, which has been prolific under his autocrat rule that we find highly offensive and will never accept.

Michel selling our passport illegally to the likes of fugitive Krecjir and other criminals

So Michel not being a very good scholar, should be informed and be put on notice, ideas cannot be killed! That means, you cannot kill “Sesel Pou Seselwa”! You cannot shoot it. It is invincible and bullet proof. So put your AK-47 away.

Michel - The biggest gunner!

Similarly, you will be delighted to learn, that you cannot jail “Sesel Pou Seselwa”, by jailing a political leader. Did you not follow the South African Revolution and Nelson Mandela, Walter Susule story at University of Seychelles? If you did, it would have saved you a moment of intellectual self inflicted humiliation. I noticed the President of Tanzania was laughing throughout the speech, he must have found something very funny indeed.

After June 18th National Day

Conveniently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be back after June 18th National Day. After the side cars and luxury sedans and soldiers all put on a show to empower James Michel, the real boss will be back in town, calling the shots, under Parti le Pep: IMF.

No Water For Indian Ocean Games

In his June 18th National Day speech, James Michel called for a victory for Seychelles at the Indian Ocean Games to be hosted by Seychelles, herself. I salute all the players, and wish them luck. But this year we have a slight problem, we seem to not have enough water for residents, and the arrival of IOG teams will coincide with the Seychelles tourism peak season.

Where will we get water for everyone, Mr. Michel?
It seems that while you were giving talks around the World on “global warming”, and  “Sea Level Rise Foundation” as you rightly profess, you forgot in derelict fashion, one little detail at home: no provision for sufficient water for the people, and 85% leakage of pipes, which has nothing to do with global warming and nothing to do with the rise of sea levels!

End Game of National Personality Disorder

So for 11 months, Michel will say “Koste”, “Unitie”, “Leve Debourye”. Then next year, around June 5th, we will hear it all over again, “Se Nou Ki Lepep”…..Le Pep se Nou”!
Now, if you think you will propel a micro island state out of national  BANKRUPTCY with this type of split national personality disorder, you may be flying over the Cuckoo’s nest before your next IMF extended facility is extended to your government.

I suggest you seriously consider seeking medical attention to resolve these conflicting messages you are sending out to the people. You are confusing them and sending the potentially productive energy of a people, back into the barrel of bakka tubs for Five (5) more years!
Remember one thing Michel, before June 5th, 1977, it was Seychellois that built State House, it was Seychellois masons that built Liberty House, where the Ministry of Finance sits, it was Seychellois that built the Catholic Mission. We were waking up and hustling ( Leve Debouye) long before you pulled guns on us and imposed Communism on us as a people.

But I know, to Communists, it all makes sense… the results will not differ anytime now or in the near future. So bring on the IMF and drop the devaluation on our heads again!

Seselwa Unite!

Sesel Pou Seselwa!

May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois!
Christopher Gill

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Seychelles Column - By Christopher Gill

Seychelles Communists Cloud of Failure Over Paradise

Sometimes I hate to say things because, they turn out to be true. I don’t know where this canning ability came from, but it has been with me most of my life, even when I was a child. I learned early on that I had to put it to use for good and not allow it to become a tool for evil.

Red There Is No Water !

For years I have written about the grave water problems in Seychelles. PUC has been under financed for years and even decades, three to be exact.

After the last elections in 2006, the SPPF Communists brought in French advisors from Suez Group, who were close friends of the late Michel Tretout, ex-ambassador from France, disgraced Fabrike, a shareholder in Casino hypermarket project to make assessments that local engineers had already made, and charged us Sr. 125 Million for a Two (2) year contract.
Michel Tretout

That money which was part of a greater scam, could have gone to replacing 50 year old rusting pipes that are responsible for the 85% leakage and loss of water being transferred from sources, to treatment plant to dam and consumer.

The 85% leakage for a public utility agency is poor performance and consequently, the PUC does not meet the 18% acceptable leakage rate to qualify for international financial assistance. That is why the water leaks and road breaking and repairing go on and on and on and we get less water every year. PL Communists ignored the water problem for decades. Today, we pay the price for this gross failure.

Red Where Are The Dams For Water?

The La Gogue Dam was built in the Mancham era, funded by the British, as was the Rochon Dam. Nothing has been done since to expand these dams or build new ones, and nothing has been done on Praslin to create a dam, though a natural dam exists. But the Communists use it to house a few terrapin turtles and some guppies, in case they ever need a voter. Smartest President in the world James Michel made the statement of they year last year when he quipped that "why build a dam when there is no rain water to put in it"! 

Rochon Dam                                La Gogue Dam

Red Says Buildings Do Not Drink Water!

For years I have said that large hotel projects will not benefit Seychelles and we will risk losing her charm and unique beauty as the concrete jungles go up and adequate water supply is not captured and stocked.

Communists the world over, love to cut ribbons and set foundation stones. In Seychelles, they are not an exception. They cut every ribbon, lay every single foundation stone. It is as if they are the only ones that can do anything. They do this to divert the public’s attention to their real failures that affect us all.

James Michel - loves plaques and ribbons

While they build and push construction, we not only have gone bankrupt as a state, but now in 2011, the grand failures of these poorly conceptualized  projects  now glares over the most beautiful islands in the world, in great failure and great sacrifice to the natural beauty of Seychelles, something we always knew we had to protect and even our Constitution recognizes this inseparable obligation of the people to nature.

1.     Shangri La Hotel on Long Island has been at a near stand still for over Two (2) years now. On occasion a little macadam is moved from the depot area on the left side to the right side. No water provision has been made for this project. Bungalows are not roofed and cement block skeletons grace this island in the St. Anne Marine Park, and there is no water source on the island to support such a foul idea.

2.     Eden Island is plunking along, but is showing signs of desperation, as the extended dry season sent the landscaper to the yards of Providence Industrial next door, looking for water tanks that were never installed. This project is single handedly responsible for the drying up of La Gogue Dam to low levels more then any other residential hotel project. La Gogue was at 45% capacity yesterday. In Thirty (30) days La Gogue will drop to 12% if no rain fall is registered and IOT may close, Seybrew may stop making beer, but Eden Island will still continue building? PUC should have Eden Island source its own water with its own desalination plants and its own storage, but how will it do that, when it is in front of a marine park?

Eden Island

3.     The Raffles Resort blunder has shown its grand failure now. Since it has opened, few guests have turned up. Those that have turned up have registered their complaints on travel blogs. As much as 450 workers are fed Four (4) times a day and the hotel is reportedly losing $600,000.00 per month. Locals line up along the road at night to drink beer, play music and watch the guests take a dip in publicly displayed dipping pools, as they try in vain to enjoy their evenings at the ill conceived concrete jungle monstrosity in the heart of Praslin.

 Raffles Hotel on Praslin - An abortion & ecological disaster on Praslin

It has been rumored that Prince Talal blames the marketing department for the folly. But no marketing effort will be able to retrieve this ill conceived hotel project that had green lights before designs were even presented to the Planning Authority. Another Communist basket case approval.

 Prince Talal

Praslin has struggled with water supply to accommodate the 450 -500 new workers, and demand drawn by Raffles. Yet Raffles has not contributed substantially to improving the water situation on Praslin.  It has all been a big free ride, so to speak. They have destroyed some water sources, other hotels used in the dry season, and tapped into rivers, without PUC prior approval.

Red The Barrels Are Everywhere!

As a direct consequence of PUC failure to deliver water effectively to Seychelles, blue, green, grey barrels are turning up every where, and anywhere, and ruining the natural beauty of the islands. The tanks have a look of desperation to them and send alarm bells out in the minds of visitors.

Water barrels anyone?

No water, but PUC trucks used for Party Lepep rally

The Communists actively encourage this practice, instead of coming up with proposals and tax rebates to place tanks under ground. State House itself will be graced with different color tanks in no time.

I visited a number of hotels this week, and found polyethylene pipes all over the place, as hoteliers battled to get secondary water sources. Seychelles has sufficient water supplies, we should never have been in this situation.

Red We Do Not Bathe !!

Countless families are going to sleep at night throughout Seychelles, without enough water to bathe. Some use bottles to bathe and keep up hygiene. Our children are reporting to hospital with flu and other related symptoms.
Only a dream in Seychelles

This is a signature failure of the SPPF PL Communists. The situation is not temporary as they will have us believe. It has been ongoing in parts of North Mahe for over One (1) year. In La Misere now, it is pushing Two (2) years, an area that always had water, but for the gross negligence of ASCON the contractor of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nayan.

Sheikh Khalifa to the rescue with 3 desalination plants so that Michel and the Sheikh can have a bath

Red Loves Desalination Plants

The Communists love desalination plants. In early 2000 decade, they bought a number of them before Rene retired and they were over invoiced. The technicians brought in said they would be costly to run and maintain. They were right. The existing desalination plants have been not functioning at 100% capacity, but perhaps 50% capacity or less, due to filter and pump maintenance issues.

At the run up to the Presidential Elections, sham elect President James Michel,  picked up the phone and called Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nayan, autocrat ruler of UAE and asked for help with more desalination plants.

Sheikh Khalifa - Michel's best friend

Sheikh Khalifa, always the willing friend of Michel for obvious reasons, sent out Three (3) new plants being installed, to restore capacity of production to what the existing plants should produce if they were maintained properly. Sheikh Khalifa could have sent some pump parts and membrane filters by DHL , and it would have had the same effect in capacity for water production.

As this water crisis cuts into our lives, families will suffer greatly. The economy will suffer greatly, our image as a destination will suffer, and in the end, we will all collectively, pay the price for 34 years of failed policy to address the water demands of Seychelles.

Joel Morgan - The Minister responsible for water and also for the Delo Kaka disaster

Start digging for water under James Michel, the sham elect President!
Back to the stone age…… before the days of our proud Corsaire descendants who came to these shores, with the can do attitude  and created a community with our pirate ancestors  and slaves alike, from all shores and they all  said: “we will do what we must… to survive”!

Seselwa Unite!

Sesel Pou Seselwa!

May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois!

Christopher Gill

ETN interviews Joel Morgan - Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs, Environment, Energy & Transport


eTN speaks with Seychelles Minister Hon. Joel Morgan


eTN speaks with Seychelles Minister Hon. Joel Morgan
Joel Morgan

(eTN) - On occasion, an opportunity arises to interview high-ranking officials during my many trips across Eastern Africa or to the Indian Ocean islands, and recently, during a visit to the Seychelles, the Hon. Joel Morgan consented to be interviewed for eTN’s Executive Talk, discussing a range of issues, including the "Problem from Hell," aka ocean terrorism, aka Somali piracy, where the Minster expressed strong views, which should be embraced by more and clearly saying that defeating piracy is a matter of national survival for the Seychelles.
eTN: Mr. Minister, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about a range of issues of interest to eTN’s readers. Do explain your role in government, as there is often a lot more behind the title of a ministry than meets the eye, as after all, you hold a wide brief in terms of the portfolio - Home Affairs, Environment, Energy, and Transport.
MINISTER MORGAN: To me it is very exciting in terms of the work that I do, and I personally love it. I find it very, very stimulating to be involved in so many areas and to have a chance to make a difference in so many key areas. For instance, in my work responsible as Minister of Environment I have a chance to steer the whole environmental management sector of our country, and I can make sure that there is continued protection of what we all hold so dear in our hearts and what is basically the mainstay of our tourism-oriented economy, and that is the environment. We are, in fact, moving forward to protect our pristine natural environment even more, with the soon-to-be-made declaration that 51 percent of our territory will become a legally-protected area. Already we lead the world in this regard with 47.2 percent of our territory being protected as marine national parks and terrestrial national parks.In this ministerial capacity, I also deal with all issues of climate change, which is crucially important to a small island state like the Seychelles. It presents a huge challenge to our country in terms of our water resources [author’s comment: the Seychelles depend overwhelmingly on rain for their water consumption, and the changes in rain patterns only recently made it necessary to double their desalination capacity from 2.5 million gallons to 5 million gallons production, courtesy of a gift by Abu Dhabi] but the mitigation of climate change impact on our coastal zones is another big area of concern; sea level rise, subsequent storm flooding, and tsunamis – the latter not connected to climate change but a real concern to us – are very key issues, considering that the largest part of our 86,000 strong population live along the coastal areas. Nature conservation is part of this portfolio’s brief, both marine as well as terrestrial conservation. Here the work that I do, the decisions taken here with other colleagues in government, do make a visible difference about development of some areas and the preservation of others. This all has a significant impact on the future or our country, on our children’s future, and our country’s environment, to maintain it for future generations, so I enjoy being in the midst of it today and being able to make a positive impact.
Another key sector of my responsibility is transport, a key to our economy in both the maritime and aviation sectors. The maritime sector is hugely important for our economy, for imports and exports as we depend a lot on importation of goods but also for our fishing industry. A lot of maritime traffic in our waters is connected with fishing, bringing fish to Port Victoria for processing, and then re-exportation. Being able to set transportation policies for our country and helping shape the future of such an important part of our lives, our economy, is a very exciting aspect of my work here. To improve access to the rest of the world, we are re-developing Port Victoria and also our main fishing port for better maritime services, and to move on to air-transport, we are also in an advanced stage to re-develop our international airport. This is a key for our tourism industry, which depends almost entirely on the airlines bringing in our tourist visitors but also allows our own people mobility, and we are a very mobile people with as many as 35,000 trips undertaken by Seychellois going abroad. Being in the middle of the Indian Ocean, so far away from everywhere else, means we depend on good air access and that we have improved a lot in the most recent past through an open air access policy.
I deal often directly with airlines when we negotiate bilateral agreements, and we had great success in bringing more airlines to Seychelles and others now flying a lot more often than was the case in the past. Emirates will soon be coming here twice a day, Qatar Airways is now going daily, Etihad will start with four flights in November, and our own national airline, Air Seychelles, remains a key partner for our tourism industry and to ensure constant access to key markets and destinations. The immediate plans are to start a codeshare arrangement into the Far East with China to open that market with direct access and, thereafter, negotiating similar access to Korea and Japan.
But my work as Transport Minister does not end there, I am also responsible for national transportation, public transport on and across the islands, where we have overcome past problems and modernized our bus fleets, added a lot more vehicles, responded to demands for new scheduled, new routes, and now offer reliable and affordable public transport to our citizens and our visitors, too.
Energy is another part of my portfolio, and here we are again set to become a global leader in the way we will introduce sustainable energy uses in the future when we implement our new policies. We want to move progressively away from the use of fossil fuels and tap into renewable energy sources like solar, ideal on our island with so much sunshine across the year. This is a passion of mine, a personal passion. We will start with the island of La Digue, which we intend to remodel into an island of pure sustainable and renewable energy use. There we are looking at wind energy, solar energy for lighting and hot water production, and going further by introducing and eventually only using hybrid or electric vehicles for transportation, replacing conventional diesel and petrol engines.
eTN: But the oxcarts on La Digue will remain?
MINISTER MORGAN: Yes, the La Digue oxcarts will remain in place. We intend to champion the use of renewable energy sources globally and will shortly install, with the help and financial support from our friends in the UAE, an 8.5 MW wind turbine plant, which should come on line by the end of this year and is then followed by a solar installation feeding electricity during day hours into the national grid. But we are not stopping there. We are pursuing a policy to encourage our households to install solar water heating and solar panels to get their own electricity from and will, with the help of international finance institutions, create a fund to give grants to Seychellois willing to convert to fully renewable energy use for their homes.
eTN: Have you already mandated the use of energy-saving bulbs to save electricity?
MINISTER MORGAN: We, in fact, did this a while ago already through incentives to consumers to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs by handing out replacement energy savers while at the same time removing all taxes and duties on the import of such energy savers to promote a "greener Seychelles." That went hand in hand with promoting the use of LPG gas cookers to reduce electricity use during peak hours, and there, too, we took out taxes and duties for equipment to make it affordable for our people, for hotels and resorts, and restaurants.
All these measures are aimed to keep Seychelles green and reduce our carbon footprint in coming years; we want to spearhead it globally where we can to show that here, where climate change will have its first big impact, we are doing what it takes and what we can to play our part in the global fight against climate change. And holding the portfolios of both energy and environment also made another project easier for which I pushed very hard, as we are now starting to move from pure landfills for rubbish disposal to converting part of it into energy, which again will produce electricity in the future.
And the last key area of my responsibility, which I have taken on since last year and which is very challenging, is Home Affairs, comprising national security, police, prisons, border control and immigration, civil service, and, of course, the issue of piracy, which overlaps with Foreign Affairs and Defense.
eTN: You have at times been described as the "anti-piracy minister;" do you think this media slogan does your work any justice?
MINISTER MORGAN: I think is does do my work justice, yes I do. I am dedicating a lot of my time, nationally and internationally, to this problem and to combat it. I am doing it because it threatens my country, it is putting my country at risk, and the President has given me this responsibility. I am giving it my heart and soul to bring on board the international community, to sensitize our partners, to mobilize and galvanize support for Seychelles. Our President, in fact, championed the fight against piracy, and he was the first and remains at the forefront of our active diplomacy around the world to build a coalition with our partners to fight this menace. Piracy today is the single biggest threat to the entire region, and, in fact, not just to our region but to the entire international trade, which passes through our waters, our region using ships to import and export goods from around the world.
eTN: A major naval coalition was, of course, formed a few years ago to combat ocean terrorism, which is the phrase I use to describe the menace...
MINISTER MORGAN: I entirely agree with that!
eTN continues: ...which is perpetrated by a very small section of Somalis and their financiers and middle men, which has led to the unjustified broad condemnation of the Somali people as a whole. What has the naval coalition done for the Seychelles to secure your waters, to protect your economic exclusion zone, and what significant material support like naval and aerial assets, training, and other measures have friendly countries given to Seychelles to allow the country to also mount its own defense?
MINISTER MORGAN: Our partners have been very positive in the help they have provided to Seychelles, because they have seen that we are very proactive in our stand and reaction. We have taken and continue to take a very strong stand against piracy and to protect our national integrity and our rights, the rights of shipping to peacefully use the sea lanes, and as a result of President Michel’s leadership and his policies, the global community has come together and helps us, supports us. Our closest friends and allies have responded to our needs very well. For instance, the UAE have donated 5 naval assets to us, 5 ships our coast guard uses to patrol our waters alongside the naval coalition vessels to improve safe passage and security for ships. Previously, the UAE also donated an aircraft to us for surveillance, doing daily flights to gather information and direct surface vessels. India has just donated a new Dornier surveillance aircraft to Seychelles and has underwritten the use of another one until the new aircraft comes off the assembly line for delivery, also allowing for training of our own personnel. This aircraft is actually armed and contains state-of-the-art equipment assisting us in pinpointing positions and comes to the aid of vessels in distress. In addition, India has donated to us 2 big navy vessels, which we use alongside the others to patrol and safeguard our waters, our fishermen, and our islands.
The UAE is also assisting us in building a totally new major coast guard base for our ships and as a control and command center complemented by a radar surveillance system covering all our key islands to allow for early detection of any threat to our national waters and our national security, be it pirates or other groups.
China is delivering to us 2 Y12 aircraft, also fully and state-of-the-art equipped, which will very much expand our reach and allow for constant around-the-clock airborne monitoring, surveillance, and directions for NavFor and Seychellois surface ships.
eTN: Is it a matter of national survival for the Seychelles to defeat the ocean terrorists?
MINISTER MORGAN: It is a matter of national survival for some of the key aspects of our national economy, tourism, fishing, and trade. We depend heavily on ships moving freely across our waters, into our port, and transiting with their cargos to Asia, to Africa, and beyond.
eTN: I was pleased to see a large cruise liner calling on Port Victoria today, and I understand this is now a very rare event compared with the old days when Port Victoria was a "must visit" destination for any cruise ship sailing the Indian Ocean. Security assessments have changed the classic Indian Ocean cruises from or to the Seychelles via Mombasa, Zanzibar, Mauritius, and South Africa, and all the exotic places in between, and the cruise companies are very afraid of one of their cruise liners coming under attack or even being captured, especially in view of several pirate groups being closely linked with militants like Al Shabab, sharing proceeds, and in case of a cruise ship capture, likely sharing the hostages.
MINISTER MORGAN: I agree with you there, about the links and the sharing of proceeds.
eTN: What options does the Seychelles government have to secure the sea lanes to bring the cruises back, to return 10 of millions of US dollars in tourism and related revenues to the Indian Ocean ports from Victoria to Mombasa and along the Eastern coastline of Africa. Is it possible to "shadow" the passenger cruisers from when they enter critical waters to the time they reach port?
MINISTER MORGAN: This is not viable, the area is vast is huge, which the different forces patrol and the naval assets are spread out already, so allocating additional surface assets is not possible. However, what has proven to be very, very effective and which has been pioneered here in the Seychelles, is the "vessel protection detachment," which is putting trained and armed personnel on board of these ships until they reach safe waters again. We started this with fishing boats, our own boats, but also the Spanish and the French, and it has proven an effective deterrent against pirates capturing any of those boats so protected. After analyzing the results, we are now pushing for more such detachments to be placed on ships because the deterrent does work - not one of the ships so protected was captured by pirates.
We are now talking to cruise lines and are telling them that as they are losing a lot of market and revenue by avoiding our area, avoiding calling on the Seychelles, that with the right measures this is doable. Yes, there is an ongoing risk, but it can be minimized, reduced to almost zero, with the right precautions.
eTN: It is our understanding that you have UAVs based at the Mahe International Airport, none of which are presently armed. They could be armed?
MINISTER MORGAN: Yes, they could be armed.
eTN: Do you have any plans in that direction to increase your deterrent and ability to respond to incidents or prevent incidents, increase the risks for pirates to actually come out from their own territorial waters and try it on?
MINISTER MORGAN: The UAVs belong to the Unites States Army, and they are here under an agreement we have with the United States of America to operate missions for anti-piracy surveillance. They principally gather intelligence information, which they feed back to the US and share with us here in the Seychelles and NavFor members about locations of suspected pirate motherships and skiffs. The agreements we have in place right now with them does not provide for the arming of the UAVs at this point in time.
But what Seychelles now has is our own aerial assets, aircraft which are armed like the Dornier we have from India, and the new one we are getting from them. And under our own rules of engagement, we can and will use armed force against pirates when our own aircraft are involved in surveillance or coming to the assistance of vessels in distress and when the crew deems it necessary to either deter or neutralize the threat posed by such pirates.
eTN: This week the Seychelles Regatta takes place using catamarans, not the "tall ships." It is a big business elsewhere in the world and before ocean terrorism became an issue, many round-the-world regattas stopped over in the Seychelles, bringing visitors and revenue. Will you in the future actively promote a return of the big regattas to Seychelles and will you be able to secure them from the air?
MINISTER MORGAN: We would like to see a return of these ships to our waters, however, at present, with the limited assets we still have at our disposal, ensuring the complete safety of yachts and their crews would be difficult to assure right now, but for the future, we want to be in total control of our waters and are working towards that objective.
eTN: You mentioned you have your own rules of engagement here in the Seychelles. Under these rules you have staged several successful rescue missions for which you must be congratulated, of course. It must have taken some courage to actually give your commanders on site the go and leave it to them to act as they were trained to do. You used your new naval and aerial assets well and were widely praised for your robust response, but you were also criticized, including by a few members of the naval coalition calling it a "risky strategy." One particular source of criticism suggested it would cause a hardening of actions by pirates when they have captives on board after seizing a vessel. Will you in the face of such critiques continue with your robust handling of pirates when they are encountered on the ocean?
MINISTER MORGAN: Most definitely we will continue with our line of robust responses. In fact, we will not only continue, but intensify, our responses and actions. Our message to the Somali pirates is very clear: you come into our waters, you come to threaten us, our territory, our citizens, our livelihood, our economy – the consequences will be deadly.
eTN: Why, in your opinion, then are certain members of the naval coalition so loath to engage the ocean terrorists as decisively as you do? A few have stopped pondering and diddling about and equally started to engage them robustly, too, but generally with the vast superiority of assets and equipment, for monitoring and surveillance they have, they let the Chandlers be taken hostage standing by watching as London did not give the commander on site the approval to move in and prevent it. Doesn’t that show that the naval coalition needs to sit down and agree on a new set of robust rules of engagement, leaving the decisions to their commanders on site rather than making political decisions in the European capitals?
MINISTER MORGAN: I believe so, in fact, I have been propagating a change of the rules of engagement by the different partners in the naval coalition and amongst naval detaches directly deployed to the area to safeguard the shipping of that particular country. We must stop pondering and must move on to action. Had we done that a year ago already, I firmly believe that the Somali pirates would have seen a really strong deterrent and it would have had a big impact on the level of attacks we have seen since then. They would have known very clearly, if they take innocent people hostage at open sea, then they would face deadly consequences. The fact that this has not happened yet has been like an open door...
eTN: Has it encouraged the ocean terrorists?
MINISTER MORGAN: Of course it has, of course, it has been like an open door for them, and even if they are captured at sea, caught in a skiff, they are disarmed and put ashore in Somalia, they are back on the ocean within a week. Here in Seychelles, we have evidence that people we have captured were involved in previous hijackings, got caught and were released back to Somalia and went back out to sea again.
eTN: Uganda, where I come from, has the most troops based in Somalia under the AU’s peace keeping force, and our President has on several occasions demanded that Somalia has to be under a total sea and air blockade to have the mission succeed first before embarking on the economic reconstruction of Somalia, create jobs for young people instead of see them join Al Shabab or the pirates. Do you think a naval and air blockade would help you in your fight on the ocean when the militants and pirates are actually uprooted from their safe havens on land?
MINISTER MORGAN: We need to be smart how we tackle the problem of Somalia and the problem of piracy. It is clear that the state of anarchy in Somalia has to be brought under control, and the structures of government have to come in to stabilize the country, to have governance, to have infrastructure rebuilt to have the economy restart, create employment and opportunities, although this is a long-term process.
The immediate problem we have is dealing with terrorism from Al Shabab within Somalia and its links with Al Qaida, which have now been proven and, of course, also the problem of piracy, which in my mind is also linked to financing Al Shabab. I am convinced that one way or another the proceeds or part of the proceeds from piracy, the ransom payments, not only go to the businessmen who are behind the piracy, but they are also paying Al Shabab for various favours, for protection, for their rackets and their scams. What we need to do is to stop the flow of arms into Somalia. This is big money! Big international companies, which supposedly offer security services within Somalia are in my opinion involved in the arms trade into Somalia...
eTN: In arms trafficking?
MINISTER MORGAN: In arms trafficking, both small and big arms. I think the international community, especially the countries of the EU, the United States and other countries like Russia, for instance, need to tackle this problem, take it very seriously, as well as the UN, of course. They all need to clamp down on the supply of arms into Somalia. The second thing which needs to happen is that international institutions involved in combating financial crimes need to go after the money flow, after the people who finance piracy. Because piracy has become a business. It has become a business for people anywhere, they sit in Europe, they sit in all four corners of the globe. They are putting money into financing piracy because it provides huge returns. It is no longer just a question of pirates getting into skiffs, going on the ocean to hijack ships for ransom, it has become an "organized crime."
eTN: The capabilities exist to do this, there are global agreements to disrupt and end the financing of terrorism...
MINISTER MORGAN: Yes, this is just another face of terrorism! The money which ends up in the hands of financiers of piracy is used to traffic narcotics, to traffic arms, to traffic humans – it fuels the international terrorism process. We must not be naïve and say these are just people making money, yes, they are making money, they are profiteering from piracy, but they are using such money to pay for other things, as organized crime syndicates.
eTN: So you think those syndicates and godfathers have a clear agenda?
MINISTER MORGAN: Evidently they do, and whoever believes otherwise must be naïve!
eTN: In recent months, pirates have landed and been arrested in Tanzania and other parts of Eastern Africa, even Indian Ocean island it has been reported. Those in Tanzania were spotted and arrested as they came ashore trying to commandeer fuel and supplies. The Seychelles with 115 islands and the extensive geographical spread across the Indian Ocean is a vast area to secure. Can you assure the public that your islands are safe and you have put all measures in place to ensure no pirates are going to land on your shores, your islands, and that your own people and the tourist visitors are safe?
MINISTER MORGAN: I can assure you that our people and visitors are safe. We have in place all required plans and taken measures to effectively and efficiently tackle any attempted landing by any pirates on our inhabited islands, and even on uninhabited islands we now have measures in place to prevent such. I am not saying it is impossible, please let that be very clear, but we have done everything humanly possible to prevent such an incident from happening in the Seychelles, and we are confident we have the ability to deal with such situations.
eTN: You mentioned earlier on that you are also responsible for transport, in particular air transport. Is the government, your ministry, giving any incentives to foreign airlines like 5th freedom rights to have them come to the Seychelles, to fly more often into Mahe? Emirates are now at 12 flights a week, soon going to double daily, Qatar Airways coming daily and Etihad planning to start with 4 flights a week from November. And, of course, the inevitable question on Air Seychelles, will the airline be privatized as has long been speculated or will it for the time being remain in the hands of government as a strategic national asset..
MINISTER MORGAN: We are presently studying the issue of 5th freedom traffic, mainly because we had requests from certain airlines to be granted such rights as part of renewals of existing bilateral air service agreements. We have to look at that very, very carefully, because we cannot compromise and endanger the viability and financial ability of our national airline, Air Seychelles. We believe in fair competition here, we believe in an open air access policy here in the Seychelles, but we still have to be very careful about giving 5th freedom rights to other airlines.
Air Seychelles is our backbone, our kingpin as far as air connections are concerned for our tourism industry, so we must be careful not to put our own national airline at risk. This is why we are taking our time to comprehensively study the implications of 5th freedom rights for other airlines, for the routes they want those rights for, and I believe we are right in taking our time to look at all aspects and implications. As to Air Seychelles and privatization, at this point in time, we have no plans to privatize or divest of our national airline.
Air Seychelles, as far as government is concerned, can seek out or go into strategic partnerships with suitable other airlines, and this can involve even a strategic investment in Air Seychelles, but we have no plans to divest ourselves from our national airline. For us, Air Seychelles is so important to our economy, so we cannot say you are privatized, go fend for yourself financially, and otherwise, this is not possible. Air Seychelles is a strategic asset to us just the same way as our public utility corporation is a strategic asset which, too, we will not divest of or privatize.
eTN: How far would a "strategic investment" go, 24 percent?
MINISTER MORGAN: It would be a minority investment, of course, because government wants to maintain a majority stake in Air Seychelles for reasons of having the national interest prevail.
eTN: The Seychelles Tourist Board, after restructuring and re-organization, has put "Brand Seychelles" on the map, on the global map...
MINISTER MORGAN: Yes they have, they have done an excellent job...
eTN: Are the government’s structural changes and reforms working, and what more is needed to build the Seychelles of tomorrow, considering the example of the tourist board and the experience drawn from that major reform?
MINISTER MORGAN: I think the way for the Seychelles of tomorrow, the way President Michel has explained his vision for Seychelles in his re-election manifesto, in his program, is an expansion of economic activity in our country. Basically, Seychellois, alone or even with partners from overseas, need to become the main actors in the development or our country. Government will provide conducive policies, will facilitate through appropriate mechanisms, will act as an enhancer of what the country’s private sector is involved in, and will provide infrastructure. What we want to see, and taking the example of the tourist board, the people of Seychelles take ownership of the future development of their country, and we will be there to help, facilitate, and support, and they are doing that already in many sectors of the economy.
eTN: You talk of the President’s vision; President Michel was just re-elected for another 5-year term with a very convincing majority giving him the mandate to carry on with economic and social change. The Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) is maybe a good example to further that thought. STA is being expanded considerably, is being given a completely new campus, to train young Seychellois to get jobs and start a career in the tourism industry. Are you planning similar initiatives for other sectors of the economy like fishing or trade to empower your young citizens, give them the skills and abilities to build a future for themselves?
MINISTER MORGAN: We are doing this with the Concessionary Credit Agency and the Development Bank of Seychelles, we are, for instance, helping the food production sector, the farmers, the fishermen, and we are doing a huge amount for the small business sector in all forms like repairs and maintenance contractors, cleaning contracts in our districts, the people involved in graphic art, music. The entire private sector’s small busineses, including catering, take aways, or the craft sector, you name it, and government is putting in place, the President and his team are putting in place the right structures and so we can tell our people about the opportunities which now exist in the private sector, here is available financing, go for it.
eTN: Minister, in closing, you have been described to me as a rising star in politics, very well respected, and one person said even admired. Is the sky the limit for you?
MINISTER MORGAN: I am a very humble person; I dedicate myself to my President and to my country. I made a decision many years back to work for my country, in all humility.
I am not ambitious in the sense that I aspire to higher political calling and office, and I would rather let my work and action speak for themselves.
Would sometime in the distant future come the possibility for higher office, I would consider that with all the humility, but what drives me is not that, I am not driven by power or an agenda of self advancement, but I am driven by an agenda to work for my country based on service. This comes from my heart.
eTN: Thank you for your time Minister, on behalf of the entire team at eTurboNews.
MINISTER MORGAN: And I thank you and eTurboNews for the support you extend to the Seychelles – it is hugely important what you put out there and has a huge readership, and it is fair and balanced in their views and presents a picture of Seychelles as it really is. I personally believe in fair and balanced reporting and for that I am very grateful indeed.