Political Thought I - 90 days of actual democracy?
With the introduction of Bhutanese brand of democracy, there is a time frame of 3 months for open talks. However, it is observed that for reasons of self-preservation or other motivation, social media abound with anonymous wonder thirsts- a great many with good intentions and greater more of evil destroyers. Then we have politicians and people who come forward in public to bring out issues that affect everyday life. Unfortunately for Election Commission of Bhutan census, security and language happen to be prevailing social anxieties along with land issues.
I personally view the 90 days election period, once in five years, as a blessing to the Kingdom and all its institutions. It provides a much needed space to utter aloud the aspirations of the common people. When few individuals stand up in public and air their problems, hopes and grievances, it is actually a political and administrative boon to the otherwise much revered and possibly also feared authorities and institutions. It opens up the demographic hearts of the common people in full view of the rulers and administrators.
The ways the affairs of election issues are directed, no one can doubt the authority and the clout of Election Commission of Bhutan. But still as humbly and as meekly as possible thoughts creep into one’s mind as to the wisdom of throttling the voice of those few who raise queries that affect the peace, stability and harmony of families, during election period.
People who frankly air their thoughts and problems in public are those who bear no malice or animosity. Rather it is a display of hope and trust that appropriate authorities are adequately understanding and sufficiently benevolent to address the issues raised. However when such open attitude is met with veiled threats, the grievances do not disappear. Instead the system rots faster to disintegration as has been demonstrated in other regions of the World. It is not easy to intelligently and patiently exercise tolerance but often palatable end solutions are derived from such efforts. On the other hand, one could say that more tolerance may be followed by more demands. So why give in the first time? Rather fix them up for good from the initial stage. Unfortunately fixing for good seems applicable to broken plumbing or vases but for a vibrant society there are no quick fixes for good. And according to our population census, we do have a very young and therefore vibrant society which could be easily frustrated as young minds are prone to be.
Political Thought II – the Birth of Regional Politics
On June 12th, 2013, a national newspaper of Bhutan called “The Bhutanese” put for public viewing an article, “ECB green lights entry of DNT candidates to PDP”. I noted the observations and reservations expressed by ECB and the “legal ground” for the green light. My own views on political alliance were expressed in my blog www.wangchasangey.blogspot.com on 10th June, 2013. However, one is made to realize that during election period, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) holds the scepter. So it is not possible for anyone else to display any other light.
However this anointment of political parties’ alliance has given birth to future regional politics and “possibly inadvertently” sowed the seed of regional discord. The irony is that the young constitution of Bhutan was meant to unify the Bhutanese people and prevent regionalism, race and religious discords. But destiny like a large river has its way of finding its own course regardless of human intervention. Therefore five years down the line you can bet that there will be a proliferation of political parties based on regional forces and led by regional figures of national stature. The political parties will be fuelled by regional sentiments, peopled by more than 2000 fresh or out of work graduates and their immediate family members. There will never be dearth of political ideologies, manifestoes and funds. For all parties the publicly declared ideologies would be the king, country and people. The manifestoes would be better wages, salaries, roads, bridges and golden age for the aged and more opportunities for the young and greater promises for rural dwellers. Bribes to win support of GT and DT members will be gift wrapped in amenities and funds for gups and tshogpas under the guise of geogs and chiwogs. And party funds will come from national coffers through ECB, business firms and powerful elites who wish to exercise political influences. And the mandatory party members will come from family members of party candidates as well as that of paid party workers. After the primary election, the parties will form alliances to win the prized trophy of governance and dividends thereof. Only the masses will lose out because they would have voted for A and B parties but a new party C comes to power.
In retrospect this approval for political alliance has enabled the discovery of political and social tunnels for diverse aspirations of different regions, race, language and religion of our tiny Kingdom. The stamp of legality accorded to joining forces of Nyamrup founders, office bearer (the face, body and soul of DNT) with PDP has legally provided the means for the different voices and sentiments of regional political groups to subvert the constitutional limitations of participation to only 2 political parties in the general election. It seems that destiny found her course from amongst all the maze of political jungles. And this kind of political path has been kindled by the very authority “ECB” that was supposed to preserve a constitutionally pre-determined political unity and channel. Is it good, dangerous or necessary? Just take a tablet of positive medication and believe that true democracy lies in giving voice and recognition to all sorts of voters, ideas and interest groups.
Political Thought III – Political Destiny: as they come so they may reap
Kings of Bhutan are destined by hereditary fortune of birth and not long ago Ministers, Dashos, Government Secretaries and Directors came about through majestic grace. Now under democracy, many also come by chance and quite a few come about possibly by destiny.
Lyonpo Thakur, Pema Gyamtsho and N.L. Rai may have stayed in their previous line of occupations but for the bureau tic shoves which in hindsight may have been destiny push. Few other MPs could also have come about as their tryst with destiny but I have no background details. However, what I most find tale telling of destiny is that of Lyonpo Tshering Tobgay. He was the first member to lay the foundation of PDP under the blessings of Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup. But his own political fortune rose out of the ashes of PDP. To elevate him to the presidency of PDP, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup had to go, Lyonpo Jigme Singye had to go, Dasho Sonam Tobgay Dorji the South Thimphu candidate had to go, all eastern and central dzongkhag PDP candidates had to lose and only one lone Gasa candidate, the least populated Dzongkhag had to survive to keep political company. Haa the second least populated Dzongkhag could live with a Gasa candidate win.
It is rather frightfully haunting when one realizes that in 2008 PDP was almost totally so wiped out that there really was no one left to hold the leadership of party except for the South Haa MP elect Tshering Tobgay. Thankfully the first general election disaster was limited to one political party and several natural calamities. It was not like that when Kazi Lhendup Dorjee attained his goal of being the 1st Chief Minister of Sikkim. Disaster then had struck the people, Chhogyel dynasty and Sikkim.
For all Bhutanese politicians of destiny or otherwise, only the future can tell whether we have in them the makings of Napoleon, Hitler, Nelson Mandela or God forbid Kazi Lhendups. But one thing is quite certain; there is no Lincoln, Gandhi let alone Buddha among all politicians of the world.
Political Thought IV – Doctors and Politics
Sometimes back I read a Kuensel article about doctors and their political misfortune. The article correctly recorded a history of political mis-ventures by doctors during the short period of democracy in Bhutan.
After two prominent doctors’ dismissal primary round performance during this election, I did my own rustic analysis. The conclusion was that doctors even those with administrative skills were not able to shed off the doctor-patient attitude and assumptions which made matters worse.
Voters are unlike those ailing patients and anxious escorts who line up outside doctor’s chamber and who accept even harsh scolding with brave smiles. Voters are largely in good state of health and possess an ace up their sleeves that can make a visible difference to the life of a doctor politician just like the stethoscope around a doctor’s neck that can determine life and death in a hospital.
A doctor has a good chance of success in political venture if he or she is able to assume the role of a patient and pay the same kind of homage to the voters that a doctor usually is accorded in their hospital kingdom by the patients and their obliging relatives.
Political Thought V – International politicking a national lesson
It is never enough to just be so drowned in local or national politics. Sometimes it opens eyes to be aware of regional or international political happenings such as in Afghanistan which has become one of the several centre stages of American and Western European politics. The others are Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
America and her allies seem to have had enough of their follies in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Many decades back it was Vietnam. Now America wants to leave Afghanistan in 2014 and yet not appear to be deserting the anti-Taliban factions. So America is negotiating with Taliban regime for whose removal America had initially invaded Afghanistan. Taliban is already the de facto ruler of Afghanistan and America is willing to publicly concede this fact but needs a face saving concession from Taliban regime. What America probably wants is a declaration by Taliban that under its next official regime, it will no longer be mandatory for all Afgan men to wear beards and for all Afgan women to remain uneducated and jobless and that it will also arrange an election to vote itself to power after America quits Afghanistan.
President Karzai and his government took public offence of the direct USA-Taliban negotiation in a Taliban Embassy at Quetta. Probably Karzai felt personally humiliated so his government stopped the on-going USA-Afghanistan security talks.
Next the president’s palace (Karzai’s official residence) suffered a series of explosions and gunfire. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the fireworks whilst USA took a vow of silence. After the physical fright, president Karzai has now agreed to negotiate with Taliban on behalf of the Americans. That’s the color of national politics when national leader play fiddle to big brother and absconds true national goals.
Afghanistan has had big brothers. Earlier it was British India, then later Soviet Union followed by America. And it has political leaders whose allegiances were more concentrated to serve big brother interest rather than being pro-Afghan nation and people. However, it now seems that the till-now-manipulated Afghan masses have won the game through sheer patience, courage and number. Soon Afghanistan will have no shadow masters or big brothers. The so-called Middle-East spring is beginning to flower else-where too.