GIS - Mar 26, 2012: A bust of Sir Harilal Vaghjee was unveiled by the Prime Minister, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, on Thursday 22 March in presence of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Paul Bérenger, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Kailash Purryag, and other eminent personalities. The bust was unveiled in the Sir Harilal Vaghjee Memorial Hall.
Sir Harilal Vaghjee was the first Mauritian Speaker of the former Legislative Assembly and officiated from 1960 to 1979. In fact, on 23 March 1960, he was called upon to replace Sir Robert Stanley as Speaker of Legislative Assembly, and throughout his speakership, he commanded respect and affection from both sides of the House.
As Speaker he also chaired the local branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Association Internationale des Parlementaires de Langue Française. Appointed chairman of the Provisional Council of the University of Mauritius in 1965, he became Vice-Chancellor in 1972 and remained at the helm until 1974.
At ease in literature and music, which he loved, Sir Harilal Vaghjee achieved in both. A march which he composed was played by the Mauritius Police Band on the Opening of the 1979 session of the Legislative Assembly. He was knighted in 1970, he was also elevated to the dignity of Officier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1978. He died in London, where he had been under medical care, on 26 May 1979.
In his speech, the PM underlined Sir Harilal Vaghjee’s great sense of impartiality and his love for culture. He stated that Sir Harilal Vaghjee clearly reflects the idea that it is the man that makes the office. He added that Sir Harilal Vaghjee never bowed to political infringement and that it was particularly during the most important and difficult moments of the country that he assumed the post of Speaker.
The Leader of Opposition described Sir Harilal Vaghjee as a great intellectual with a great sense of humour and highlighted the main events of his professional and political life.
The Speaker stated that for him it was a great honour to have briefly interacted with a man of the calibre of Sir Harilal Vaghjee who had graced the chair and laid emphasis on his great sense of impartiality.
Sir Harilal Vaghjee was born on 10 January 1912 and was admitted at the Middle Temple on 16 November 1931. He was called to the Bar on 26 January 1937. On 21 September 1943, he was appointed magistrate and civil administrator of Rodrigues. In 1951, he succeeded Dr Edgar Laurent as vice-President of the Legislative Council; then on 2 July 1957, he was elected Deputy Speaker. On 17 September 1957, on the introduction of the ministerial system, he was appointed minister without portfolio.