Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Internal Legal Auditor for ACC?

Both social and monetary corruption must be tackled and it will be a continuous battle for ACC. However is it time for ACC to have an in house independent  Legal Auditor Team comprising members with proven experience in legal, financial and administrative fields? This will reduce chances of ACC fomenting prosecution cases based on hearsay, suspicions, personal instincts and prejudices, public and political pressures. The conviction rate will also improve.

A deep introspection is called for since the much hyped anti-corruption case against health ministry’s doctors and officers has ended up being a wild goose chase (reference Kuensel 22nd May issues on High Court acquittal of the accused). Devoting huge financial, human and time resources of the Nation to prosecute the innocent, disregard established administrative process and procedure and bullying individuals and families into miseries and submission is not just horrendous but calls into question the supposed holistic stamp of Constitutional Bodies. Anticorruption campaign must not be a ‘crusade’. The term crusade is a Christian term to justify all means to convert the populace (heathens) to Christianity. Hounding the innocent is no fool proof deterrent to corruption.

Today with Constitutional Bodies in the person of Dasho (Aum) Neten Zangmo Chief Anti-Corruption Commissioner and the 4th Estate the media in person of Mr. Thinley Dorji, the Chief Executive Officer of Bhutan Broad Casting Service that invades every mind and home of Bhutan through its TV and radio networks hold Executive Power in day-to-day running of the Government. It blurs all lines of distinction between government administrative Agencies, constitutional institutions and the media.

Such situation of overlapping jurisdiction calls for strict discipline and code of conduct for individual Agencies in performing their professional tasks without prejudicing their interim extra-curricular authority or vice versa. And an independent internal legal auditor team could contribute corrective measures to prevent the tipping of scales to just one side. Internal checks or self examination can go a long way in bringing about cohesion within family and nation towards the royal guided GNH path.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My thoughts on Party Presidents Meet, BBS TV, 8th May, 2013

It was lengthy by any standard but not much of a standard in content to compare to any other forum excluding NC candidates’ debate.

One could summarize that Chirwang was for younger leadership, Nyamrup for equity from inequity, Druk Phuensum for continuation and better days and People’s Democratic for a complete change. The ideologies are prerogatives of each individual political party and anyway their charter and manifesto are already approved by the Election Commission. So there is no comment.

However, just to excite my viewers on the blog, here are my views on some issues raised during the Presidents Meet.

1.       Leadership young or old
Democracy grants voters the choice of leadership. Therefore change in leadership cannot be granted or dictated by any Political Party or group of individuals. All can make their case to the people so that Bhutanese voters can make their choice of leadership.

2.       People must be alert lest power falls in the hands of one or two individuals
This concern was voiced quite frequently by most of the party presidents. That was revealing. When challenged by the former Prime Minister, PDP President said he was expressing future concern. Is there a concern among Bhutanese that the country may be heading towards dictatorship or revert to King’s rule due to political disarray?

3.       Rupee crisis and loans
Rupee crisis and loans will remain part of financial complexities for Bhutan no matter which Party comes to power. Progress and development need fund and our internal resources are limited. Even after 2020, it will not be possible to be free of loan or rupee crisis unless our external relationship dynamo changes and we receive major aid packages. Most Nations in the world are undergoing such monetary crisis even in developed European countries.

In my view if any Political Party assures continuous prosperity and at the same time fulfillment of people’s aspirations without loans and without rupee crisis, then there is one looming danger, the fate of Kingdom of Sikkim. No loans, no rupee crisis and no sovereignty but continuous development to meet social and economic needs of the people. India upholds all responsibilities for the state of Sikkim.

4.       Road and foreign relations
The former Prime Minister did not specifically make reference to these two subjects. In fact rural road condition issue was raised by PDP President. However, the President of DPT did state that the performance report of 1st Democratic Government was submitted to the nation in the last session of the Parliament. In that report it was highlighted that new motor roads exceeded all that were constructed prior to 2008. And diplomatic relation expanded greatly. Statistic figures were provided to illustrate the leaps and bounds.

I felt that comparison of pre and post 2008 developments in road and diplomatic relationship need to be delicately handled and especially accurately and realistically recorded. Many view such declaration as unfair criticism of past government under the 3rd and 4th Kings.

The fact is that any and all diplomatic efforts of the 1st Democratic Government pales in comparison to membership to Colombo Plan, United Nations, Non-Aligned, SAARC, many international organizations and opening of international agency offices within Bhutan. During the reigns of the 3rd and 4th King, diplomatic relationship was purposefully restricted to the most indispensible and beneficial to the Kingdom of Bhutan.

The fair weather road connections to almost all geogs of the Kingdom is admirable and even if some of these roads are not pliable during snow and rain yet I am sure unlike the sneering urbanites, the farmers in rural Bhutan are very grateful. The farmers would rather have a fair weather road than no road at all.
Due to budget, time and human resource constraints, such farm roads had to be of fair weather condition. However, it will be easier for the next government to improve upon what have been laid already. Likewise during the government lead by the Kings, other priorities and pressing urgencies had to be met from limited financial and human resources. And because so many essential social and economic needs were fulfilled prior to 2008, these very achievements enabled the 1st Democratic Government to fulfill majority of their commitments.

5.        Relationship with India is non-negotiable was one of the declared political stand
Indo-Bhutan relation has always been and probably will ever be always the corner stone of Bhutan’s foreign policy. Bhutan cannot forsake India under any circumstance and India should realize the futuristic wisdom of allowing Bhutan necessary sovereignty in its foreign relation especially with China.
However in so far as relationship is concerned be it personal, national, international (bilateral or multi lateral) are negotiable. There is no such thing as status quo (stagnation) or non-negotiable. Relationships have to mature, improve, change for better and be in tune with the changing time, maturity and aspirations of individuals, groups and nations etc.

Sino-Bhutan Relationship was not directly mentioned but indirectly the declared political stand “Indo-Bhutan relation is non-negotiable” maybe alluding to anonymous sources’ criticism of Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley meeting with Chinese Premier.

I have always respected India and will always remain grateful to Prime Minister Nehru for making the arduous journey to give birth to Indo-Bhutan friendship. However, I am in favour of better relation with China. My feelings on Sino-Bhutan relation was made public long before the advent of Bhutanese Democracy.

Sino-Bhutan relation has always been a concern to Bhutan since ages and more so from the time Tibet became an autonomous region of China. We have held many sessions of border talks in the most cordial atmosphere and officials of both countries have exchanged visits. In the Sino-Bhutan Border Agreement, we have committed to promote friendly relations between the two countries

No nation in the world is ignoring China. Our next door ASEAN neighbour Myanmar has finally broken the trade and diplomatic embargo imposed by the West only because China did not fail Myanmar. The public pretext of European and American overtures to Myanmar is participation of Aung San Suu kyi in politics but actually the same military government holds sway even today. One could close the eyes and wish away reality. But even those blind in-sights cannot refrain from sensing the dominating presence of the world’s most populace, resource rich and influential China. Therefore, I hope that whichever Party comes to power in the next session, Bhutan will have progressive relationship with China. By this it does not necessarily mean that DPT has to return. After all, the 1st Democratic Government has been unable to push through the exchange of establishment of Embassies between Bhutan and Japan. Japan was ready yesterday but Bhutan hesitates even though we have diplomatic relation and Japan has been much economic help for decades. I personally think that Mao Khola Bridge and possibly other major funding from Japan await the exchange of Embassies of the two countries.  

Wishing everybody everyday politicking in this season of Primary and General Elections. Good luck and great speculations!

Salutation to His Holiness the 70th Jhe Khenpo Trulku Jigme Chhoeda.

Coinciding with the welcome arrival today of the Dratsang to Thimphu from its winter residence in Punakha, I wish to share the salutation I had drafted in August, 2012 after attending the Thri-Lung-Wang in Haa Dzongkhag. His Holiness has many followers within and outside the Kingdom of Bhutan and in sharing my thoughts I hope to hear from other disciples their sentiments.

In the name of Dharma, propagation of faith in Buddha and promotion of peace and the well-being of Bhutan, I humbly offer salutation to the greatest of living Buddhist Saint, your Holiness Trulku Jigme Chhoeda.

1.       Your Holiness has travelled the length and breadth of this Kingdom and have bestowed upon the   multitudes of Bhutanese of all walks of life the opportunity to receive Thri-Lung-Wang Blessings.

2.       In the history of Bhutan no Saint has been able to bring the Teaching of Lord Buddha to doors of so many households in such a short span of time. The people of 20 Dzongkhags are fortunate that such a Jhe Khenpo presides over the Institution of Buddhism in Bhutan.

3.       Your Holiness has the unique knack of relating Buddhist Teaching to scientists and house wives, to everyday life happening and historical events, to both Buddhist and non Buddhists.

4.     And your Holiness possesses the energy of the ocean. I just cannot comprehend how it is ever possible to impart teaching from dawn to dusk, everyday and in every Dzongkhag. Age 57 is well past those energetic 20’s and 30’s and yet the serene smile, the compassionate composure and social enthusiasm with the unique dharmic voice never diminishes.

5.   Cremation was the most problematic task that faced bereaved families. Now thanks to benevolent rules introduced and implemented (yes implemented which is the most important part of a rule), cremation procedure is so simple if one is satisfied with simplicity. One needs fire wood, a match stick and the corpse for funeral. Everything else is done by the Drastang in the twenty Dzongkhags. But ofcourse if the bereaved family wishes to show case the funeral, then it involves more money to pitch colourful tents, arrange banquet for hundreds of guests who come with gifts, seek special Wongku Lopen and construct new impressive Thakur.

The Mitruk Lhakhang at the Thimphu cremation area is a wonderful refugee for all the disadvantaged families and the lost souls of their members that need direction to the next world through the period of void. I wish that the Royal Government is more forth coming in copying the exemplary venture that your Holiness has under taken with Mr. Shamab Rinchen, in other Dzongkhags.

At the national level, I wish to express my deep gratitude for the televised appearances that your Holiness made to console and provide moral and spiritual strength to the nation during last year earthquake and the Wangdue Dzong destruction by fire. It was thoughtfully gracious of your Holiness to share the public fears that such natural disasters inflict and attempt to fill the void that hearts cannot escape from experiencing.

I now have realized that the Drastang has a special role in the hearts of the people during such national crisis. When such fear and losses strike, the direct and allied victims feel haunted and hopeless. An honest approach to such calamity is the best condolence. At their weakest moment, people do not want to hear official interpretation and censored news. Your Holiness provided a much needed truth and consolation. I also wish to thank and express my appreciation to the Zhung Drastang Lopen who was heartbroken and publicly spoke the truth -“a lot of Nangtens could not be saved”.

Initially the official and BBS version was as if the fire of Wangdue Dzong was prearranged. The Dzong burnt away as if it was a temporary hut made of bamboo mats and yet the officials and news broadcast claimed all relics were saved. Why does victims need to be further victimized by more lies? There is something so rotten with some people’s way of addressing national grief.

Please your Holiness continue the way you and the Lopen had approached the calamity regardless of how bad the situation was and how much grief would be further caused by the truth. The people of Bhutan have the right to know the truth.  How do people regain their faith and trust if they are deceived in their weakest moment by their own officials and news channels? 

Now as a Haap, I wish to touch upon what seems to be a historical bond between Miriphensum, Ap Chhundu and Trulku Jigme Chhoeda.  Haa just happened to be the first to receive Thri Lung Wang from the 70th Jhe Khenpo. And Haa I think just happened to be the first to be blessed with the 1st Moenlam Chhenmo by the 70th Jhe Khenpo. (May I thank your Holiness for enabling the built up of Haa Moenlam Chhenmo fund and for so graciously blessing the system I had set up for proper management of the fund). It seems Haa also just happened to be in the western most part of Bhutan and yet have so many devotees from other Dzongkhags come and sponsor events and offer Ku Sung Thue Mindrel during Moenlam Chhenmos and especially during this year’s Thri Lung Wang. Somehow religious events in Haa conducted and blessed by Trulku Jigme Chhoeda always had a flair of festivity, happiness, rainbow adorned sun, the orderly flow of the events and the pureness of mind and soul that forms an unbreakable chain link between the guru and the devotees.

How can we Haaps ever thank your Holiness for all the days of “enlightenment that Haaps experience” every year for that brief duration of your visit? If someone else told me about it, I would have taken it as a great fairy tale too good to be true. I feel most fortunate to be one of the many grateful Haaps to be so privileged. 

 Miracles I feel fortunate to be a part of during the Thri Lung Wang at Haa from 2nd to 18th July, 2012.

1.    The recitation part was over for the day and explanation talk to help ordinary devotees to comprehend the teaching was about to begin. It was raining heavily and the sound of rain falling on the tin roof rather deafening. His Holiness says, “I will try to get through to you despite the sound of the rain”. Suddenly as if it was controlled like tap water, the thudding roof sound softened. I looked out, the shower had just turned to drizzle and within 5 or so minutes, it stopped completely.

2.       In our village, household members don’t sleep at night. They are out patrolling the fields against wild animals. And yet invariably the next day someone’s field has been devastated. Then three days into the Thri Lung Wang, when I returned home at 7 pm, there was smile. The reason “the fields were untouched last night”. And so it continued even the next day. After the 5th day, I asked people from other villages and they too confirmed the sudden halt to marauding wild animals.

3.     His Majesty the King visited Haa and came to see His Holiness. All devotees were seated in the arena of wang complex. What I noticed was a strong breeze out of nowhere as if to announce the presence of invisible deities and petered off gently as the two temporal and spiritual personalities sat in the antechamber next to the Kikhor. Later others tell me of double rainbow around the sun. A friend had even taken a photo to show around. Definitely a good omen for His Majesty, His Holiness and the Nation.

4.     The religious programs start at 5:30 am and end at 6 pm. There were breaks for 25 minutes at 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. And lunch break from 12:30 pm to 2 pm. It did rain in Haa as it rained in other parts of the country but somehow as devotees travelled to attend the blessing in the early mornings or returned to place of residence late evenings, there was no rain to hinder. I never had to use an umbrella to take my breaks which is a rare convenience in the mist of monsoon.

Most devotees felt these were miracles performed by the Jhe Khenpo. I felt otherwise. I do not think His Holiness would want to interfere with the working of the nature. But someone was controlling the weather. That’s for sure. I think it was the Deities of Haa who were being exceptional host to their exceptional guest His Holiness Jhe Khenpo.

His Holiness shares close affinity with Haaps and their Deities. The Deities welcome and protects him and the people of Haa, a few years ago, even requested His Holiness to become a Haap and have census under the Haa Dzongkhag. I don’t think we Haaps should be so selfish. We have to share His Holiness with all others though it is our prayer and wish that the annual blessings in Haa be always an occasion to renew our love and reverence for His Holiness and receive blessings from him.
The Title of Jhe Khenpo in Bhutan

I remember reading some articles in the past where heads of other buddhist sects or high lamas and trulkus were referred to as ‘Jhe Khenpo’. This type of trend is both confusing and disturbing. In the Kingdom of Bhutan, there is only one holy person who has the right to hold this title, ‘Jhe Khenpo’ and that is the Head of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan. I feel that the Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs needs to put emphasis on this decorum which should be followed by all those residing or visiting Bhutan.

His Holiness was addressed as ‘Yishey Norbu’ by the Tibetan Drastang educated Khenpo Tandin Situ of Haa during his off the sermon very entertaining talks to the public in Haa. The salutation ‘Yishey Norbu’ is generally used by Tibetans for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I agree that Trulkus are in a way jewel of god but let ‘Yishey Norbu’ be the accepted reference for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and let us the Bhutanese preserve and protect the title of Jhe Khenpo for our Head of the Central Monastic Body. Let us not corrupt or dilute the unique references. I think the saying ‘to each his own’ is a good advice to follow. The other Trulkus in Bhutan, regardless of Buddhist sects, must acknowledge that there is only one Jhe Khenpo title in Bhutan and that is the official title for the Head of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan just as the title of Druk Gyalpo is for the King of Bhutan.

Buddhism in Bhutan

As a citizen of Bhutan, I am very proud of our King, our Dratsang and our democratic government. I realize that the Dratsang is financially well endowed and well regarded by His Majesty the King and the Council of Ministers led by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. His Majesty the King and the Cabinet have diligently stood by the age old tradition of paying their homage to the Shabdrung instituted Dratsang every time the winter and summer change of residence takes place for the Kham Soum Singye and the Dratsang led by His Holiness the Jhe Khenpo.

Buddhism is an integral part of Bhutan and is the soul of sovereignty, culture and tradition. Its part and parcel of Bhutan and Bhutanese life as is the snow on the summit of Mount Jhomolhari throughout the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Did any Bhutanese see Jhomolhari without its snow cap or for that matter does anyone want the snow cap to melt and suffer the consequences of eco-system collapse?  The Constitution of Bhutan has taken away this soul of Bhutan. Buddhism has been relegated from its centuries old position as the State religion of Bhutan. It was Buddhism that nurtured and consolidated the Kingdom that we now cherish as our Home and Country. How can we disown the very architect of our unique existence?  I have pleaded in vain against this act of monumental sacrilege and gross breach of Thadamtsi. However my voice is a cry in the wilderness and so never heard. And yet I continue to do so because I believe the echo in the wilderness can still be heard by Kuenchosoum if not by people.  A good seed thrown into the wind will take root someday, somewhere to bear fruit. And a good thought if uttered in all goodness of tradition will someday make possible the crowning of lotus upon the ocean of Bhutanese polity.

I hope that in the foreseeable future, the leaders of Bhutan and the legislators will take unto their consideration the absolute necessity of reinstating Buddhism to its national status for the wellbeing of Bhutan and the Bhutanese people.  I do not think that we need to chop our head to fit the new cap of constitutional monarchy.

Dratsang is not a political institution and monks are barred from political activities including voting. This I think, in a way, is in keeping with the tradition. The Dratsang has had no direct role post Shabdrung era as to which Penlop killed which Penlop and then occupied the national administrative seat of the Deb Raja. But all Deb Rajas still revered Buddhism as the State religion. I do not think any foreign nation or new religious groups that crop up in Bhutan has any spiritual or moral right let alone political right to demand otherwise. Buddhism as State Religion of Bhutan does not in any way hinder the practice and spread of other religions in the Kingdom.

May our Kingdom be always blessed with truly Holy Souls representing Lord Buddha like His Holiness Trulku Jigme Chhoeda.