Saturday, November 17, 2018

Changes at the religious Throne?

Looks like there will be a change over from His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo to the 71st Je Khenpo by end of this year. Most probably the most smoothest transfer of a spiritual responsibility and transition in the history of Central Monk Body. His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo Truelku Jigme Chhoedra has been ready to retire for quite some time. And the Venerable Dorji Lopon has been upholding the Dratsang responsibilities of the Je Khenpo including leading the Summer and Winter migration journey  between Punakha and Thimphu for quite sometime. 

My one hope and prayer is that His Holiness Truelku Jigme Chhoedra will continue to grace the Moelam Chhenmos in the Dzongkhags especially that of Haa where it all began.  And also give Teachings on many more aspects of life and living and spiritual ways of Lord Buddha. His Holiness is a genuine leader of humanity in spirit, knowledge, discipline and practice. A Supreme Leader amongst the greatest that blessed this world in matters of compassion, courage and dedication. 

For His Holiness, doing things right was of utmost importantance. I am sure His Holiness deeply respects the Je Khenpo Throne and the historic opportunity bestowed upon him to grace it for so many years. And yet His Holiness is one kind of a spiritual and worldly leader who would maintain a standard of personal human dignity that no post or honour could compromise. Indeed a rare genius of a spiritual Truelku who never got  compromised by the temporal powers or affluence.

Many years back, I had the honour of being in an audience granted by His Holiness at Punakha Dzong  to Haa Chhundu Tsogpa which sought to seek His Holiness to grace the next Moelam Chhenmo in Haa.  I was the Chairman of Chhudu Tsogpa but fellow colleagues  like Dasho( Dr) Gado Tshering and our all rounder indispensable PJ ( Pema Juney ) who had closer communications with His Holiness had arranged the audience. During the audience on the subject of Dharma, I humbly submitted my wishful thinking.

" Your Holiness, we hear about other religions now taking root within our Buddhist Kingdom. ( Those were times when  democracy and secularism had not arrived and Buddhism was State religion. Now it is different and I accept national realities of secular vision). One reason could be Dratsang's inability to spread the words of Dharma. Most of the successive Je Khenpos were elderly, travel was arduous for lack of motor road and in the past there were fewer people who could sponsor religious events of Wangs and Lungs. Now the nation is in much better shape and Your Holiness is in prime age with good health. Under the stewardship of Your Holiness, I feel we have arrived at a fresh dawn of Buddha Dharma ". His Holiness  smiled and though he responded kindly, I never imagined the leaps and bounds that came about throughout the Kingdom in the Teachings and Practices of Lord Buddha Dharma  under the reign of the 70th Je Khenpo.

There is now annual Moelam Chhenmos in all 20 Dzongkhags. In addition His Holiness conducted the Dechok Khorlo at Punakha and Kanju Reading at Kuensel Phodrong Thimphu. And this year the Moelam Chhenmo was performed by our own Dratsang at Rajgir the Seat of Buddha Teachings in India. For me this is all a Triple Gem achievements by His Holiness.
There must be many other equally sacred deeds unknown to me. I only have views from afar. But I hold dearly the few moments of Blessings from His Holiness in forms of great  thoughts and holy wisdoms shared. 

At home, when His Holiness came upon the Chhoetse Throne, even new admission into monkhood was restricted. The Royal  Government was not favourable to increasing monk numbers for some strange reasons. Today the scenario has been transformed. Now all are welcome to join the monkhood. And it is also easier to leave monkhood. There is less stigma. His Holiness has taken monkhood as a way of providing education for self and society development and not just devotion to Dharma itself. The number of Sheydras and Drupdreys flourished in the nation and the strengthening of Dzongkhag Dratsangs to serve the communities especially in times of griefs  are incredible strides made under the stewardship of His Holiness. 

To some rare individuals of great accomplishments the word " impossible " is not in their intent and goal. Like the sun, His Holiness lighted  up the whole Bhutanese national communities from central to all directions. His Holiness has been a glowing source of inspiration and affection. His Holiness is truly the  Love of the nation. May it be the good fortune of Bhutan and Bhutanese to have His Holiness amongst us in good health and in active Dharma Teaching Practices. Long Live His Holiness Truelku Jigme Chhoedra the 70th Je Khenpo of Bhutan.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Freedom Prisons in all 20 Dzongkags say Bhutanese Prime Minister from DNT Party.

First public pledge more Prisons and witch hunts  by DNT Party formed government. Great vengeance  goings for a Party but horror for a nation. For a while there was a light of hope for national unity  and moving on in unison with real national priorities. Now this new DNT pledge by the Prime Minister.

Why feel insecure DNT Party even after being declared the comfortable winner and taking the reign of governance? There is no call to eliminate  all semblance of  oppositions or difference of opinion in democracy unless the intent is to  murder the essence of the  lauded gift of democracy. Election is over but scores to settle a galore!

First public commitment to built additional  prisons in all 20 Dzongkhags instead of hospitals or schools. First public commitment to witch hunt fake account holders to fill  the new prisons instead of creating job  opportunities for jobless people. Revolutionary means of solving lack of employment opportunities.

Certainly not a national  government in objective. A Political Party Cabinet with national mandate to fulfill political vengeance or simply side tracking campaign pledges. I thought all one time DNT pledges were doable. Full employment is just a vision but improvements is real possiblility. Alas! The  Party is  set upon a campaign of election period vengeance the next 5 years. A sure path to national discord and social fear for national lifetime. 

Fake accounts and false propaganda posts surged during the elections. Could be political party inspired also rather than only  individual doings. DNT Party, too, cannot be totally innocent. But such things do not warrant national governance priority. These malicious wind of politics simmer down naturally if fair and positive  governance takes hold after the election.     

I did not believe this new DNT Party political vengeance mantra until a video was shared on the 1st declared priority of the new government.  And still I feel it is a joke in bad taste. However,  persecution has never guranteed the life lasting authotity of a dictator. Unfortunately terror regimes have destroyed societies and nations all over the world. Prayers may not help but still prayers must be offered for our tiny Druk Yul. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Management cloud at Thimphu National Referral Hospital.

The Bhutan Medical and Health Council ( BMHC ) determined that the negligences of 3 doctors and 3 nurses at the premier Thimphu Referral Hospital  caused death of a surgery patient. A young man in his 30s died after surgery due to lack of proper medical attention. Few months back the same hospital lost several newborns at a go. The blame was conveniently put on water supply quality as if new borns are given water to drink especially if born a little premature.   ( courtesy Kuensel ).

The negilgence is too common to be blamed on just respective individuals. The illness seems to run through out the system. There have been also rumours about cases of wrong diagnosis and even botched operations that ultimately caused death of patients. Well I guess certain percentages of fallouts occur even in best of hospitals. Not every patient can be cured. Death is part of heath services because healthy people do not seek medical treatment. Thats why death certificates are usually issued by Hospitals and recognised by concerned agencies including insurance companies. But the frequency is worrying. And negligence in such manner is alarming.

All 3 doctors and 3 nurses failed the same patient. That means other patients survived not because of attentions given by these same doctors and nurses. An indication of robotic attendance of duties as per roster but devoid of any professional sense of duty and responsibility. There has to be a more malignant root cause for such glaring shortcomings than just simply dereliction of duties by few professionals. I also wonder about the attitude of the surgeon who operated the patient,  towards his fellow professional colleagues whose follow up services are equally vital for the good health of the surgery patient.

Maybe the present system of management introduced by the last government should be re-examined.  Better go back to the original management ways. And appoint a worthy senior medical professional at the top in place  of political appointees. No disrespect to present President Dasho Lhab Dorji. I am sure he must be doing the best possible. But just as it is said that it takes a thief to catch a thief perhaps a professional Chief can alleviate this malady in medical services.

Another suggestion would be to route all VIP medical services through the management instead of direct contact with individual doctors. VIPs must be attended but by any qualied doctor not just specific doctor or nurse which could be creating a class category among similar able professionals.. That way work load is evenly distributed as well as social recognition. Also this will prevent doctors taking leave from regular duty on pretext of phatom VIP services.

In our social environment,  there are also cases of as the proverb goes " the yak hauls the load and the yak herder howls off the triump of achievement ". Credit must go to all those doctors and staffs who keep the hospital running efficiently not just to few who attend to VIPs or perform in public eyes.  The National Referral Hospital  seems to be afflicted with low morale which is usually associated with dis-satisfaction with work environment, unequal opportunity and lack of recognition of hard work.  Not about monetary benefits such as salary that most people, I think, wrongly also associate with teaching quality or teacher retention. Money is important but in my career as a CEO, inspiration and  motivation have lots to do with management fairness and due recognition of individual  endeavours. Not just how much you can pay. Also one person upmanship does not build a successul and dedicated team.   And most task are of team work nature especially in the hospital. Its not like a court room where one judge is liable for a good or bad verdict. 

Sorry about such unfortunate failures. But we must keep in mind that there are also many, many success stories at the Thimphu Referral Hospital but not highlighted. Afterall, butchers killing cows do not make news except for holier than thou pretenders of piety in public. And likewise, doctors curing patients, too, are taken for granted as it is their profession though by saving a life a doctor would have  prevented the  bereavement of a family and perhaps changed for better the fortune of a family, too. Thus actually saving multiple of lives through curing  one patient.

Thank you doctors and nurses and all related but working behind the scenes at Thimphu Referral Hospital. Your services are appreciated but our expectations are also higher because of your success ratio.  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The war within. Silent takeover of Haa by Indian Army with RBA as the conduit.

Every time I think of Haa my birth place, the image of IMTRAT an arm of Indian Army clouds my vision. And it has become deeply painful since the GOI interference in 2013 General Election, the cancellation of Southern Bhutan highway construction and Indian Army  invasion last year at Doklam. Wondering about situations  of Bhutan, hereafter.

Haa Dzong itself was handed over to Indian military  to house the headquarter of IMTRAT in early 1960s. A temporary measure that turned to permanent occupation.  However,  most of the area in the periphery had initially remained under the jurisdiction of Haa Dzongkhag Administration. But gradually over the years, more area were surrendered to the Indian Army including large areas of apple orchards and wheat fields which fall under the category of crown properties and also some community lands. The last major surrender was done during the sunset tenure of Gooenlyon Lam Dorji as Chief of Operations of Royal Bhutan Army.  I rue the national decision to register Dha- Chhab- sey Pang and surrounding areas in the name of RBA. The Royal Bhutan Army has become  the conduit of Indian Army takeover of more territories in Haa. The whole  beautiful nature shaped stadium like  Dha-chhab-sey Pang is under Indian Army control.

This beautiful flat stretch of land  along Haa river used to be traditional community recreational and  grazing area  mainly of Wangtsa village and also used for  major national events in Haa Valley including archery tournaments. Thats where the  2nd King HM Jigme Wangchuk , 3rd King as HRH Paro Penlop, Hon'ble  Gongzim Sonam Tobgay and his son as Hon'ble  Haa Drung Jigme Palden Dorji ( later 1st PM of Bhutan  ) played archery match with Haa Paazabs mostly from Wangtsa village. It is part of  immense historic heritage of national joy and celebration.

In the absence of Bhutanese jurisdiction over this Dha-Chhab-Sey Pang area, the otherwise grand National Day of 2017 was celebrated at the complex of Lhakhang Karpo. The Lhakhang complex is alright for regular Tsechu but too inadequate in space for such grand  national event as was the 2017 National Day celebrations. But what to do? Even the presence of two Druk  Kings failed to warrant the use of  the traditional nature designed stadium adorned by the Haa Chu for National Day celebration. Many Haaps ended up at Lhakhang Karpo witnessing national day celebrations on video screens installed behind the Lhakhang. And many more in front of cable tv at homes.    

Maybe the traditional significance did not strike the royal attention. His Majesty the 3rd King had warned me of the generation gap he feared would happen. I a high school student could only submit that then the Crown Prince be also engaged in official duties part time whilst still schooling. That was done.  But Bhutan could never fully bridge the sudden huge vaccum of wisdom and experience left by unexpected early death of the King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. In governance, power is replaceable as Bhutan has done already three times in a short span of 10 years democracy.  Not wisdom and experience.       

The saving grace in Haa is the present fishery farm area known as NjaChu which traditionally belonged to the  Baa- gye-na and Lha-yulkha  villages. It was initially converted to Imtrat Firing Range in the 1960s. But firing range was discontinued  after Deity Chha- na- Dorji was rumoured to have appeared in human form to confront the Imtrat Commandant on one solitary dusky evening during the commandant's  evening walk  and directed him to stop the  firing as it was a disturbance. This saved the ground from further Imtrat advance. Today major part of Ngachu ground is occupied by cold water fishery farm. So it remains in Bhutanese hand. 

Since last few years, I have noticed Imtrat / Dantak carrying out some sort of development work at the DumChho Tse- Kha. Indian Army helicopters on occassions also use it as a helipad. But till now,  it is a common multi- purpose ground for all. The DumChho villagers use it as an recreational area plus ofcourse for grazing.  They also have an archery range  there. Cows still graze in the meadow and during Haa Tsechu, it is   filled with joyful gatherings of many families with luncheon picnics. But I fear that gradually the Indian Army will attempt to takeover this multi purpose recreational area of the  villagers and their cows. And as is the practice,  RBA will claim this beautiful spacious riverside meadow and then surrender the same to the Indian Army control and usage.

I do not protest Imtrat/ Dantak presence in Bhutan for the ways of our Kings and ChhoeChangs are beyond me. But I fear further expansion and consolidation of one foreign power over Druk Yul.

Indian Army seeks exclusivity and unlimitted domain. At one time,  Imtrat attempted to change highway alignment from Dunchho bridge junction to deny througfare to Haa public. That was stopped by housewives of Dunchho village. Then Imtrat went on to construct an Entrance Gate to their establishment to monitor public passage. That too was stopped through community protest. This year after several years of holding  open  seasonal camps for their troops in the community forest hills , the Indian Army starting fenching off permanent troop camps at Wangtsa community water source. Fortunately, RBA intervened after the villagers protested. It turned out that the  Indian Army was acting on their own without any limitation from Royal Bhutan Army and His Majesty the King. The Bhutanese democratic government has no authority over Indian Army doings in Bhutan. And simple villagers think that Indian Army has the King's approval until it became a matter of survival related to water source.

I am just praying that the present Chief of Operations of Bhutan Army would desist the  demand for Dumchho Tsekha land  by the Indian Army. General Batoo Tshering  is not from Haa but has deep respects for Ap Chhundu out of personal experience. Very often in the history of Haa, it has been non-Haap officials who demonstrated genuine concerns for Haa. Dasho Dzongdag Tshering Wangda who hails from Shemgang did more for Haa than all Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers from Haa put together. It was unfortunate that Dasho was not even given three years tenure in Haa. I guess central power in Thimphu chickened out under pressure from Indian Army command.

Dasho Dzongdag Sherab Dorji who upgraded  Haa town with better inter road and parking facilities and constructed farm roads long before democracy and Political Party pledges era was from Wangdue. And present Dasho Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji who has brought back cultural and spiritual roles of Haa Dzong Utse, improved residency facilities of the few monks quartered within  the " Imtrat  Dzong " Utse and even managed to install the HM Kupar at the entrance of Imtrat colony is from Paro. My heart melted with pride and joy on December 17th, 2017 when I saw the King's portrait on the huge  board that had displayed for a long time an Indian Army Poster.  Presently, I gather from BBS tv coverage that Dasho Dzongdag is doing his best to promote home-stead tourism in Haa. He has also endeavoured to expand the Summer Festival to promote tourism in Haa. I have  met him once two years ago and found him to be an astute diplomat turned  administrator with a sincere community development heart cushioned in national pride.

There is the need of much more tourism development  activities to carry out at Haa Dzongkhag including opening up all restricted areas to tourist trekking routes. The DNT Party formed royal government must wisely seek Royal support to overcome Indian Army objection against opening more trekking routes in northern hills of Haa Dzongkhag? I guess  a Home Minister with declared  emphasis on religion and culture only,  would not on his own be able to take charge of real home authority versus Indian Army and Indian  Embassy within the Kingdom. Actually apart from Late Dasho Lam Penjor and Prime Minister JYT, no PM or Ministers or Army Chiefs appointed by the King or elected by the people could defend their administrative turf against Indian Army, DANTAK and Indian Embassy. Most were too dearly attached to self befits from their political posts. So now how much leverage of authority the present  Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bhutan can  exercise in opening up our own regions to tourism development depends upon how serious the two  are in their campaign pledge of " Narrowing the Gap ".  In this particular case of Haa  the " Gap " is not between rich and poor Bhutanese in Haa but between the authoritarian imposition of Indian Army jurisdiction  and livelihood rights of much deprived Haa people.

I guess they too dare not risk losing their posts midway. However,  the hon'ble Prime Minister Lotay Tshering had sought for just 5 years of political leadership. Perhaps he might just risk it. The Palden Drukpai ChhoChang at times have demonstrated out of box formula to save Bhutan. The Prime Minister  did receive his Druk Thuesey Medal on 17th December, 2017 at Haa in the presence of Miri Phuen- Sum which is known away from Haa as Risum Goenpos or Triple Gem. The power of Triple Gem is real not imagined. I witnessed it during Doklam invasion by Indian Army when I went to Haa to pray to the Miri Phuen Sum and Goen Tsebarme and seek guidance.  

It was Prime Minister Jigme Yoeser Thinlay who pushed for tourism development in Haa. The DPT formed royal government instituted the Haa Summer Festival. It was not to counter the over garish Indian Army annual Mela at Haa.  Summer Festival of Haa is purely a tourism promotion festival highlighting the tradition and culture aspects of Haa and it does reveal true nature of Haa as a simple honest hardworking society. There is no tradition of masters and slaves in Haa. We are equal prideful group of clan who must venture out of Haa to sustain our home families in Haa.

Sumner festival is so much about Haa but  ironically, most officials of Haa origin do not attend the Summer Festival though many including  Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay from Haa give prominence to Imtrat Mela by their continuous presence.  Thus in my opinion, the most gracious high ranking officials of Haa origin  are those who neither helped nor harmed Haaps. Therefore, I do not mourn the dearth of cabinet seat for  Haa this time for reasons of securing tangible benefit for Haa Dzongkhag from such positioned persons from Haa.   But still, I wish a Haap had a cabinet seat in this DNT formed  government. A Minister or Prime Minister from Haa may not be of  help to  Haa Dzongkhag development  but their personal successes are inspirations to the dreams of young generations of Haaps.  From the bottom of my heart, I comprehend the enormity of joy and pride of the Merak Sakteng Community in their 1st Ministership. Congratulations!!!

Haa people like myself feel aggrieved with the expansion and consolidation of Indian Army authority in Haa.  But feel quite  powerless to even express regrets about such. I had to think over so much just to pen this article.  Both RBA and National Land Commission whose cooperation the Indian Army need to extend their domination are under direct authority of His Majesty the King. So we dare not question their actions least these are done under Royal Command. The respect for His Majesty the King is sacrosanct.   But I personally cannot believe that at this wordly stage, our Kings would give preference to Indian Army over rural community and national interests. Thus I decided to make a reference to attract national attention in case a remedy is forthcoming. Hope not penalty. But what to do. Someone among Bhutanese must voice out the national discomfort.

Chhab-Su-Chey!  Chhab-Su- Chey!
Jharo Dongchen Gyalpo dhang Drukpai  ChhoeChang Kenchho  Sum! 
Chhab- Su- Chey! Chhab-Su- Chhey!
Jaagar marmi Jaa lu zhhu!
Jaami marmi Jaa-na zhhu!

Nga-cha-ra Drukpai Mitser  
Dhang-Fu Pha-ma zimpai Gyal-Wangtse ( sovereign dignity ) 
Dhataa Bhutsa rangla thobpai Moelom shhugye!
Ngoen Jaa Druk Boe gi Tsonglam Tashi Delek!
Jaa-Druk-Jaana thuenlam nyamrup-
dranym zoyie  Moenlam shhugye !
Jaana Jaagar Thuendrel jinlap
Druk Palden Densa gnuelju shhugye! 

Thuji zee! Thuji Zee! Mewang Nga dhang
Khesar Gyalpo Wangchuck  Chhog !
Druk Gyal Khap rang gi Wangtse Wang!
Druk Mitser Saachha sokchog zey!
Jaagar Wangtse Jaalu zim!
Gyalju Tendrel Zangpoi Moelam Shhog !
Palden ChhoChang Kencho Sum!
Chhab- Su- Chhey! Chab- Su- Chhey!

P.S. Please join me in  recitation, if you will, this national prayers. Dzongkha lettering  welcome. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Home Ministry is not just culture and religion.

O O mine 18th century Bhutan. Culture and Religion the goals of new government Home Ministry!  Sounds we are in for more discipline and disharmony. Maybe we could slow down on more dictates about dzongkhag , gho, kira, kamni and rachu and beliefs.  There is so much overflowing progression in these supposed needs, wants and dictates. How about concentrating some ministerial efforts on building social harmony, freedom of expression and secularism, tackling drug and alcohol social impacts and doing away with some draconian social laws?   Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs is not just " Culture and Religion ".  There is a whole national society that thirst for understanding and a helping hand. Not religious and culture lessons and dictates. And certainly not imprismsonment for 19 year old boy student having consensual sex with 17 year old girl student. Why act so holy and inclusive when deeds and intent speak differently?  A Minister who speaks only of religion and culture is a cult minister not a Home Minister. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Casualities at the top of political Parties.

Dasho Neten Zangmo's offer of  resignation from Presidency of BKP Party was a foregone conclusion. All past Presidents of unsuccessful elections have resigned. But in her case, many false hearts must also share the blame along with her. So many in social media and her own social circle paid too much  lip service homage to her decade long tenure at the ACC. All turned out to be superficial in essence. And in her make believe world, she thought all she had to do was declare her intention to be the Prime Minister of anti corruption image.  I genuinely expected her to do better than she behaved at the Primary Party presidential debate. I wish her well, hereafter.

Anyway,  the entertaining trophy of Primary election  debate still belongs to BKP Samtse candidate another constitutional post holder. Now Bhutanese public cannot be blamed having misgivings about poor selections in few constitutional post holders. And ofcourse the super trophy of silence for final round election debate goes to North Paro DNT candidate. North Paro voters especially the Bondey side underscored the essence of Bhutanese democracy. They have chosen silent representation in the Parliament. I am sure that DPT candidate of North Paro is not just heart broken but structure felled unless he comes around to appreciate the honest wisdom of the voters. But ofcourse MP Ugyen Tshering will not be silent for he has found his voice again. 

Democracy has lots of humour both sweet and sour tales. But it is worth our time and imagination. I honour and admire all who give a shot at personal prospects in life at both the general and local elections. Sorry that one tends to remember only the winners of today. But the rich experience will be for all  the braves to reap. And so is the associated risks of jobs at hand and related investments of time and money.

Good bye 2018 election fever. Thank you ECB. And BBS Team thank you for that nerve wrecking 20- 20 display national  tease. Woh ! Haha ha !  BBS almost changed the fate of democracy in Bhutan.

From tomorow, we dedicate to a new government with a new cabinet. Bhutan as a nation has to win in unity. . And may the fresh cabinet team headed by Prime Minister His Excellency Lotay Tshering be guided well by our People's King and blessed by Druk Chhoe Chongs. The people have chosen and for once in the beginning the Tsawa Sum must be prepared to give adequate  space and offer prayers for the success of the Bhutanese 3rd democratic government.      

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Post of Speaker and the incongruities.

In political heirachy in Bhutan, the Speaker is next to Prime Minister. And yet the post is not necessarily the coveted  choice of the political eligibles. Most prefer a cabinet berth at a Ministry.

The Speaker can only do common good deeds for the nation. Not for a group or an individual. And such post does not augur well for many who seek a different kind of power and influence. There is hardly any room or opportunity to do self serving deeds. No room to manipulate or find means to do favours. Corruption and corrupt practices are not what makes a Speaker powerful in Bhutan. Being faithful to the Office and truly non partisan and directing the Parliament to the national course constitutes the legacy of a Speaker.

Unlike other government Ministers, a Speaker does not glow with power and affluence during the tenure. However, it is the Speaker who will be remembered long after all others have faded away. The two former Speakers have put the interest of the nation and the well being of the people in the forefront. I wish the third Speaker all the best.  

The Speaker of Parlianent in Bhutan is as much the pillar of democracy as is the Chief Justice  the central foundation of Judiciary and Justice in Bhutan. Parliament and Judiciary are key features of a vibrant democratic nation. And the Speaker  and the Chief Justice are the souls of Parliament and Judiciary. Therefore, we all have a duty to respect them and uphold their uncompromised dignity of the Office.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why does Bhutanese society want change every 5 years?

From Gasa Dzongkhag in the  highland with the least voter numbers to Samtse the most populated Southern Dzongkhag, people voted for change. If given an opportunity, looks like most Bhutanese would desire changes in governing authority each year not every 5 years.

Looking at the election result, it seems that those in Western and Lhotsampa populated Dzongkhags are more regionally divisive or ethnically united than people beyond Pelela. However, this might not necessarily be indicative of the actual nature of the people. The gravity of the force of push and pull of campaign strategies  could also have  been a big factor as to how voters behaved. 

The 2018 election was again somehow projected as us against them, poor versus rich, pro- Monarchy versus anti- Monarchy. 
The end result is quite dramatic. The PDP Party which kept referring to its core dedication to the King was defeated in the Primary. And DPT Party which has been tagged as anti-monarchy lost out in the final round. The DNT Party has a President with established royalist credentials and presumed to be backed by elite groups and yet people opted for the anti- establishment tone and socialist pledges of DNT Party. In a way this response demonstrares thst the  Bhutanese society is more socialist than capitalist or royalist.

The active combination of DNT and PDP in the final round proved decisive in swinging several constituencies in DNT favour. But the tell tale sign is the endurance and depth of DPT Party foundation which withstood  all that the majority of Ngalongs, Lhotsampas, DNT plus PDP combined team and  some more could throw at it. The end result was 55% voters for DNT that leaves 45% of voters  for DPT all over the Kingdom. The variation in constituency number seems large but actual vote difference is only 10%. That means DPT too enjoys wide support especially in the light of very high voter turn out of over 71%. The divide is very distinct. Against the backdrop of this stark reality, I had humbly made a plea and pray for a National Coalition Government. We have to make attempts now to unite and  not divide further. However, DNT the Party at the centre stage seems to be indicating  that on its own the Party  can succeed in bringing the nation together. Superficially yes in terms of law and order but in essence very doubtful. And the other three political Parties have maintained a ghostly public silence.     

So where does the results of two stages of General Elections leave the politics of the Bhutanese nation?

1. The powers that be as in backers of different Parties do not want a strong democratic leader.  The corner stone goal seems to be deny a second term to any Prime Minister. In fact the royal patented constitution does not permit more than two terms of PM post by an individual. Further the limit of maximum 65 years of birth age in active politics prevents entrenchment of political power in an individual. Haha ! Mr. Mahathir the 92 years old present  Prime Minister of Malaysia would be circumbulating Memorial Chorten with a bead string in his hand if he happened to be a Bhutanese political leader.  But jokes a aside, power do corrupt even pious hermits if held for long duration.  

2. Bhutan does not need  a challenger to the Throne in any form. I also believe the Kingdom is too small for two power centres. The King has to remain the number one authority for continued stability in a Kingdom. Otherwise like in Thailand both the King and the Prime Minister will be looking for Army support.

3.  Changing Political Party and thereby the Prime Minister at every election may also indicate a dis-satisfaction in the royal prescribed democracy. The Indian type of democracy without monarchy was called for by Southern Bhutanese in their uprising of 1989-90. The Institution of Monarchy on its own had initiated democratic changes  from 1952 with a people elected cum royal appointed National Assembly Body. The Wangchuck Dynasty  completed the gradual democratic process in 2008 with the introduction of constitutional King democracy.

But the trend in vote for change is undeniable and it  also clearly indicated that the Throne is not a crucial  election issue as far as the general voters are concerned. An indication that people want more substantive changes but under the Wangchuck Dynasty. Corrections not overhaul.

Today during every General Election, the Kingdom seems to be caught in a quagmire of anxieties for the King who has to preserve the good  health of the nation and the Monarchy versus the Political Parties, the  deep distrust or fear among Sharchop communities and possibly foreign enhanced insecurity and resentment  amongst Lhotsampa communities. The political web of complexities needs to be untangled. .  

People in general are not unhappy with services and service facilities. They appreciate FCB and new fair  price farm shops,  helicopter emergency services, the farm roads and power tillers, the marketting service for farm products, the mobile networks, clean drinking water supplies and electricity in homes at subsidized rate, health & education services, efforts in increasing employment opportunities for youth, improved  irrigation and facilitation of cash crops.  They even understand  the necessity of big loan Hydro Projects for self reliance goal. Bhutan has seen unprecedented development under the Wangchuck reigns. Its kind of a leap from medieval age to modern era in 110 years. Something to be proud about though not comparable to say the transformation of Japan in about 30 years after disastrous WW II.   And yet change is what people continue to demand and support in every election. It could be a search beyond material services and infratructure developments though these are very essential. 

4.  In all three General Elections, it has been shown that democratic politics in Bhutan is determined by the swings of majority ethnic groups. The social grouping  nature of Sharchops and Lhotsampas along with their majority in number are more attuned to democratic politics than minority Ngalongs further weakened by their individualistic social nature. Perhaps one valid reason to stick with Monarchy for us the out numbered Ngalongs.  

5. The East cannot have fundamental antipathy against the Monarchy as perceived in some section of the socio- political heirachy. The Wangchuck Dynasty originated from the East and the Royal Family tree root is more widely spread in Eastern Dzongkhags than in the West.   In 2013, the perception that the King backed PDP candidates versus DPT candidates somehow disturbed the psyche of Party supporters from different parts of Bhutan not just that of East.  And this led to the outburst of grievances at  DPT Party Meeting in July, 2013. The actual reason for 2013  DPT supporters' outburst relates to the  PDP Party campaign.  PDP had claimed to be pro- King Party and tagged DPT Party as anti- King during election campaigns. The strategy proved to be a magical wand serving well the interests of PDP Party but most damaging to the national embodiment.

In democratic polity, election rhetorics takes all kinds of shapes and sizes. Bhutanese politicians adopted the external  election rhetorics of allegations and deception. But the traditional Bhutanese rural society especially the under developed communities in the East are ill prepared for such an onslaught of allegations and falsehoods. For example in Western Dzongkhag like Haa unless directly charged by the King, such allegation of being anti- King would be laughed off as being rediculous. Who would dare to be so stupid to be anti- King in a Kingdom !  But Eastern community suffers from an attitude of deep servitude when it comes to Royalties and Rimpochees. Its like Lhotsampa caste system.  They react badly if so accused because they feel rejected. That I feel is the irony of social fabric in the East. The people feel rejected by their revered idols and thus the grievance arising from dejection. Not a revolt. Just a wail of fish beached on the hot sand.   

6. At one time, maybe,  the Lhotsampa population was more pro Nepal and India than Bhutan. But this has changed in the last 20 years. I think that is a very smart change of socio- political move. With Nepal or India, Lhotsampa population would be insignificant. I do not think that Nepalese of Nepal was even that hospitable in attitude towards Japha refugee camp residents.   But in Bhutan, the prominence of  now Lhotsampas ( no more the Nepalese of Southern Bhutan )  is guaranteed. Thus  they are for Bhutan but not necessarily traditional Bhutan.

Right now most people including media view election in Bhutan as competition between the East and West. But that is not correct. In democracy where majority vote means power, the Sharchops and Lhotsampas are in competition with minority Ngalongs as pivotal factor. And just as the outcome of Primary election would be determined by two largest ethnic groups, the Final round outcome will be decided by the minority Ngalongs. The West, however, is gradually undergoing demopraphic changes and with it naturally the socio- political outlook.

7. It is also natural for security forces and Ngalong population to vote against any percieved threat against Monarchy. The soldiers have taken the oath to protect the King and Country. And hard working Ngalongs who are more  individualistic natured than Sharchops and Lhotsampas retain deep faith in the Wangchuck Dynasty for ending war and strifes that had western Bhutan in turmoil for so many centuries. I put the stability of the nation as number one in my political priorities because a peaceful stable  environment permits self determination. No need of handouts.  And the King represents stability.  Knowing this fact, the Political Parties with Presidents from western Bhutan have tended to  conduct a campaign strategy as being more dedicated to the King than a Political Party headed by a leader beyond Pelela the traditional dividing line between West and East Bhutan. Such an election strategy is not only to buoy up supports from Ngalongs and security forces but also to dampen morales elsewhere into submission.

And this strategy finds welcome support among a section of influential elite hierachy who somehow wants to paint DPT and all supporters  in anti- royal colour. And perhaps this vindictiveness more than any other actual factors has sown seed of suspicion in  royal mind and caused fear or distrust amongst the communities especially  in the East. Most sad and unwarranted.

8. It is necessary to analyse the vote patterns in the national Elections. And understand  why the three regional zones of Bhutan differ so starkly in their preferences? The votes are not really Eastern region versus Southern plus Western regions. Both Pema Gatsel and Samdrup Jongkhar are in the Southern region.  The reality is the divide between  traditional beyond Pelela region versus  Lhotsampa populated Dzongkhags  aligned with the West. The demographic contrast is undeniable.

By dzongkhag wise number, it is 8 Dzongkhags versus 12 Dzongkhags. But in reality Dzongkhags like Haa and Gasa  are large in land size but thinly populated and comparable to few geogs beyond Pelela. So its 50 versus 50 demographically.

Does the votes mean that the Ngalongs and Lhotsampas think alike? Not at all. The call for Indian type democracy was made from the South. The Ngalongs have been quite contended with absolute monarchy system.    I think we Ngalongs simply count the pluses and minuses of a monarchy regime  and are contended with pluses in the majority. Democracy and wrest of power for power sake is not an Ngalong quest. Maybe basic human rights !

9. Let me explain further this percept about democracy and basic rights. For example, democracy as such is not my quest. I do not thirst for equal power. But I believe in basic human rights. A right to be individal with self identity. Thats why I find it appalling that a Bhutanese mother has to seek  royal prerogative to obtain citizenship for her own born child out of wedlock/ illegitimate  or baby is fathered by a non-Bhutanese. How very humilating a situation in an acclaimed gnh democratic Kingdom ! A baby coming out of a Bhutanese vagina or DNA proved Bhutanese father from foreign mother should have natural right to Bhutanese citizenship. Do not tell me thats upsurping royal prerogatives. I view it as an encroachment to basic right of a citizen.   

For very sound national reasons,  citizenship cases for foreigners, foreign spouses of Bhutanese or foreign child adopted by Bhutanese should be royal prerogative to prevent misuse of citizenship grant by other authorities. But here  the very discussion of the plight of such Bhutanese mothers and children are forbidden and penalised as in ECB banning a lady political candidate from campaigning and levying monetary fines.  It is such deep similar  hurts  of tearing the womb or life  apart that ultimately give rise to hard core feelings against any institution of authority. One has to understand the trials and traumas of the womb in nourishing forth a baby to feel the excruciating pain caused by such cruel laws of denials. We need to collectively  pray that His Majesty the King and the Government would  be humanely sensitive and compassionate to matters of Bhutanese womb and genes.

10. It seems diffiicult for Bhutanese authorities to fanthom what Bhutanese society is seeking. Since royal prescribed democracy was introduced in 2008,  successive governments have faithfully fulfilled their campaign pledges upon which they were elected and yet each such government has been rejected after one term. So there have to be some underlying fault lines unprepared to be discovered or addressed by Political Leaders and too sensitive to be publicly listed by the people in individual capacity.    
Certainly these cannot be quenched by a mandir here, promises of a church & grave yard place there and temples everywhere. For gods if necessary can be housed in the crevices of the heart but not so some other intangible indispensabilities related to life and living.   

11. I am by birth a loyal Haap and by patriotism a royalist. But I am definitely not anti- Sharchop or anti- Lhotsampa. It was I who first wrote about the need to reconcile after southern uprising. I had wanted the nation to heal from the wounds of Southern rebellion. I stand genuinely for Tsawa Sum ( The King, Country and People ).  And  even in the wildest of my foolhardy folly, I cannot discount the importance of the participations of fellow Bhutanese of the East and the South along side those of us  in the West in the, hereafter, well being of Druk Yul. The three regional zones and ethnics   together form the sturdy  tripod upon which the raven crown rests.  Bhutan does not even have a population of the size of the nearest  neighbouring Indian district  of Jalpaiguri which includes the vast Siluguri town. It is suicidal for the Bhutanese  nation to practise  divide rule over such a miniscule population. As Dr. Lotay Tshering now the hon'ble PM Elect  said, it should be possible to accord equal services as part of basic human need of a citizen. And I do not mean just health services. 

12. First and foremost the regional  divide and segregation in ethnic, religion, caste and gender need to be addressed.    Therefore, my humble call for a National Coalition Government System. Such an  inclusive government can represent all sections of the three regions and three main ethnics. And bring about trust, faith and equality  within the Kingdom. One People one King is sacred to one nation.

National Coalition Government System  is not a wild impractical political thought. Before 2013 election, when I mooted aloud the idea of voting from place of residence, it was considered good idea but impractical. But facilitation booth voting came about in this year general election.  Ofcourse my call was far more reaching. It is not difficult to enable some 300,000 voters to vote through EVM or traditional ballot box from their place of residence. 

The political Parties and His Majesty the King have a huge responsibility to make whole a divided nation. We are not a broken Kingdom.  Just need to bring down the percieved shades between the three regional zones and different ethnics & beliefs. And National Coalition Government System could achieve  this goal  if implemented with  sincere intent.

13. For the record, I do not think the recent publicity campaigns in form of press releases by DNT Party declaring itself to be a Party  of national representative intent can adequately soothe  the hurt or seal the divide. Nevertheless, such public declarations are very good appreciable  conciliatory gestures  which I value and am thankful for sake of Bhutan. But it can not substitude the intent and substantive assurances and goodwill a National Coalition Government  System can generate. Its a pity that political parties and institutions  are not as yet prepared to take one critical step in the direction of healing a wounded Kingdom. Someday in the near future, I pray that this good seed though seemingly thrown in the wilderness now, will germinate and blossom to beautify the Bhutanese society.

May our Druk Yul  shine in full glow by blessings of our Deities and accumulative goodwill of the people and benevolence of the King. Palden Drukpa Gyel Lo !    

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A plea and prayer for Coalition Government System.

This is a follow up to my blog of 14th October titled  " A way forward...". I had publicly  shared this idea well before the election of 18th October, 2018.  The timing was to  avoid any semblance of vice or prejudice for or against any Political Party.  

I feel that Political Parties including both DNT the elected Ruling Party and DPT the elected Opposition Party would be interested to bring about unity and harmony among the people of Bhutan.  And promote trust and faith between our constitutional King and any elected Government, hereafter.

During every General Election, there are inciteful talks, hate posts in various social media forums and allegations against  Political Parties  and their supporters of being  anti- King or pro- King. The institution of Monarchy and the people are put on trial every 5 years. This is very  sad and demeaning for both the King and the people.  These unhealthy attitudes and grievous  behaviours are in total  contrast  to the Buddhist Kingdom with a national  philosphy of GNH and the image of a reverred benevolent institution of Monarchy.    

Dr. Lotay Tshering the Prime  Minister Elect and his DNT Party  has this unique historic opportunity to set aright this socio-political malady. At this juncture, the DNT Party can  bring about an environment of affection and faith in the administration of the Kingdom by the elected representatives of the people in the form of the two political Parties under the active guidance and blessings of the King. In promoting a National Coalition Government System, the  DNT Party being already elected  the  Ruling Party without having to share power, would be making a great sacrifice for the unity and happiness of the Druk Yul Kingdom for timeless ages to come. It is a worthy sacrifice. Such a  Coalition Government System proposal spear headed by DNT Party could create a more positive and encompassing contributory legacy to the institution of Monarchy and the nation than by  any other national political or socio- economic scheme including Vision 2045 abdication.  

A Coalition Cabinet will dispel any distrust or  misunderstanding between His Majesty the King and Political Parties.   Such a government would  represent the common  will of all the people of our Kingdom. Thus there will be no disparity or contradiction  between regions and between different ethnics. A coalition government of such nature would truely reflect the essence of a constitutional monarchy democratic nation. This would  enable  good governance in unity and unison. As His Majesty the King had  wisely said that with internal unity, Bhutan can meet any external challenges. And this proposed National  Coalition Government System would gurantee internal unity.   

The gist of  proposed National Coalition Government System is submitted as follows:

1.  The President of the Party that secures the highest number of constituencies be appointed the Prime Minister with full fledged PM Office Secretariat including Chief of Staff. 

2.  The President of the Party with lessor number of Constituencies could  head a Ministry and in addition be appointed as Deputy Prime Minister. The Dy. PM office  would be staffed with additional  Private  Secretary and Personal Assistant backed by the usual  Ministrial bureaucracy staffing.

3. All the rest of Cabinet members to be selected  by His Majesty the King from amongst the elected MPs and their portfolios accordingly assigned.

4.The Cabinet berths including that of PM and Deputy PM to be as per the  ratio of the constituencies secured by each Political  Party  out of total 47 constituencies. Under the present scenario, it works out to be 64% for DNT and 36 for DPT which after rounding off translates to 7 Cabinet berths plus PM for DNT and 3 Cabinet berths plus Deputy PM for DPT.

5. In the the National Assembly,  there would be no ruling or opposition benches as such. The National Assembly would be a congress of elected MPs. And they could freely consider all issues and matters with utmost wisdom  and  unbridled by Party affiliations and the NA decisions could be arrived at through consensus or majority of votes.

A compact high level Committee chaired by honourable PM Elect ( the President of DNT) and members comprising of  Dratsang Venerable Dorji Lopen,  honourable  former and present Chief Justices of Supreme Court and honourable Presidents of DPT, PDP and BKP could study such a possibility. The seven member Committee representing their institutions and Agencies could unreservedly  consider  the pros and cons  of the possibility of a Coalition Government System hereafter with necessary amendment or additional article to the Constitution. And if the proposed system is  consented to by His Majesty the King, this can be submitted to the 3rd Parliament for formal review and ratification. .

It is only a humble submission of prayer and plea and hopefully many would support and endorse. The national vision of one people one nation and one King  must prevail in good health and faith. May our Deities bless equally the  three Tsawa Sum with Peace,  prosperity and contentment. Palden Drukpa Gyel Lo!   

 

 

Friday, October 19, 2018

This thing about vision 2045

Somewhere along the last decade of royal reign, I think His Majesty the King did indicate his intent to see through till the age of 65 on the dragon Throne. Now that final year maybe falling in 2045. Even so I cannot really see the profound reasons why a political party would want to plan a vision 2045.

The Wangchuck dynasty took birth in 1907 and even though democracy was introduced in 2008, the Dynasty's continuous reign is constitutionally enshrined. Therefore, it is not going to end with the reign of the 5th Wangchuck King. It will continue with following generations of Wangchuck dynasty line.

The reign of each King would leave particular footprints. But in a continuous line, I feel all endeavours and accomplishments of a particular reign would be in comformity with overall Wangchuck Dynasty vision for the nation. As such I personally do not see one national vision ending with one reign and a fresh national dream starting with a new reign. Unless ofcourse a different kind of national path is being envisaged from 2045 and thus Vison 2045. 

I was uncomfortable with this agenda of DNT Party when first stated during Party Presidential debate at the onset of Primary election. And I am still confounded by DNT press release upon being elected the governing Political Party in regards to 2045 vision. But ofcourse the future of a nation is inscrutable abd therefore partly imaginery.  However, the  reality at present is that DNT the Political Party has been given the mandate to set its course for the nation.

So welcome Vision 2045 for whatever it is destined to achieve. Afterall for me  the ways of Pelden Drukpai Deities are more a matter of faith  than actual comprehension. I have learned to stride in faithful optimism with every change in life major or minor. Life is a gift of womb and so is the nation I am fortunately born in by the  grace of the Triple Gem.