Friday, June 7, 2013

I am Apolitical but I do favour Policies strengthening National Sovereignty

This is in response to Kuensel Online comment referred to me by anonymous Goldenboy.

goldenboy dtd 5th June 2013
"Sir (Sangay Wangcha, Haa), from your statement it clearly indicates that you are a firm supporter of DPT without any doubt. And i respect your views for that but is Lyonchen immortal or will the country not sustain without him?It’s high time we embrace change, Lyonchen and the former ministers have done what was within their capacity and i thank them for that. But looking at the current situation of the country such as the rupee crisis, i feel that fresh brains could come up with new ideas of tackling the problem whereas the old lot cant think out of the box. And supporting a single party wouldn’t it be dangerous? As of date, from two oranges we have just tasted one orange and now we know how it tastes, and we would like to eat the other orange and see whether it tastes the same/better. Later on we can decide which one is better."

Dear goldenboy, as a general rule of thumb I do not react to responses from anonymous writers. However, you seem to be someone genuinely concerned and not any Tom, Dick and Harry (too many exist in Bhutanese social media). Kuensel Online is not the forum to share my life history but still a summary is necessary because in all innocence or ignorance or arrogance you alleged that I am a firm supporter of DPT.

I do not support any political party or personality. If you have had kept up over the years of my views you should know that I was the only private Bhutanese citizen (under my own name never anonymously) who publicly chided the last government for hiring McKinsey and for introducing the tobacco law. It was I who termed it, “draconian”. I also privately wrote to the Prime Minister to declare a national holiday to celebrate GNH and the Bhutanese family instead of public nuisance of weekly pedestrian days. A little more than a month later, the President of UN Assembly declared World Happiness Day. It seemed that UN heard me but my government did not. I still believe that this World Happiness Day now a public holiday in Bhutan can substitute for all pedestrian days if we bar all mechanical transports along with polluting factories from operating on the Happiness Day. It would be a far more effective and convenient way to promote clean environment for a happy Bhutanese family.

I also did write privately to the Prime Minister expressing my huge disappointment regarding government decision to withdraw Bhutan from the International Shanghai Trade Expo. In fact all the Countries in the world participated including India except for the two tiny countries, Bhutan and another the name of which I cannot recall right now.

The Sino-Bhutan relationship has been a very big concern to me since very early age when my father along with all men aged 15 years and above was called up by the 3rd King to defend the country in 1962 when Bhutan feared that Indo-China war that began at Tawang may spill over to Bhutan. I desire peace with both India and China. This was also what I submitted to His Majesty the 3rd King when he visited the Ugyen Wangchuck Academy at Paro. I was then 19 years old.  When His Majesty the 4th King made possible the signing of Sino-Bhutan Border Treaty, I thanked His Majesty from the bottom of my heart.  And again when His Majesty successfully renegotiated the 1949 Indo-Bhutan Treaty towards the end of his Reign, I was overjoyed. When the Prime Minister of Bhutan met with the Chinese Premier against the backdrop of Rio-Conference attended by so many world leaders, I felt that we have a Prime Minister who was following the vision of their Majesties the Kings. And yet it was shocking for me that we have Bhutanese who abused him for what actually is a giant step in Bhutan’s foreign relation and totally in keeping with the royal vision for Bhutan. I simply wish to give adequate time for Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley to take the next forward step after the historic meeting with the Chinese Premier. Maybe he would be forced to abandon the process because we have huge anonymous voices that exercise super clout to dampen any tangible Sino-Bhutan relationship. It’s all for the future to see what he does.

I am very much pro India and I have much to be grateful to the Government and the People of India. We as a Nation and as Bhutanese individuals have come thus far and taken giant strides only because His Excellency Prime Minister Nehru of India took the arduous journey (trekking) to Bhutan to extend to the King of Bhutan and his subjects the hand of friendship from the Government and People of India. But the People of Bhutan and that of India must now be realistic. Bhutan and Bhutanese cannot ignore the larger than life existence of China physically overlooking Bhutan and towering over world economy and influencing the dynamic of International Politics. It is for this lifelong personal reason and future of Bhutan that I wish to support the GNH and Sino-Bhutan efforts of Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley in his service to the King and the People of Bhutan.

I am dedicated only to Bhutan. I am the only Bhutanese who publicly prioritized Tsawasum in the order of Country, People and King because without Bhutan there cannot be Bhutanese and without Bhutan and Bhutanese people there cannot be a Bhutanese King. I am dedicated to the Wangchuck Dynasty because the past Kings have offered selfless and visionary services to the Kingdom and her people and the 5th King have committed to continue in the same path. I have always kept national interest at heart and my past deeds should substantiate that I stand only for Bhutan.

1)      I pioneered greater part of Bhutan Tourism development when it was really essential. Tourism started before I joined but all tourists came through travel agents in India. For several years they kept tour payments outstanding. And in 1977, when we insisted for payments, the travel agents in India backed by the Reserve Bank of India said, “Take the payment in rupees, Bhutan is not entitled to receive payments in dollars.”
Against all odds, but with Kenchhosum’s help, I managed to link up directly with foreign tour agencies and through sheer personal pleading and reasoning even got them to pay in dollars for all tourist groups that they had sent to Bhutan in the past years through travel agencies in India. (Go ahead and get your confirmation from those that worked under me or above me.)

2)      I met with the Joint Secretary North, External Affairs of India and successfully reduced Transit Permit issuance time from 3 months to 3 weeks for foreign tourists coming to Bhutan. In 1970s there was no Druk Air and foreign visitors had to travel through restricted areas of North India to reach Bhutan.

3)      I also worked as second-in-command in the Department of Trade, Industry and Mines during 1980s. Lyonpo Zimba was then the Director and Deputy Minister Lyonpo Om Pradhan was head of Trade and Industry Ministry. Late Dasho Dorji Tenzing was the Director General of Immigration and Census Department and Lyonpo Dago Tshering was the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and direct boss of Dasho Dorji Tenzing. Deputy Ministry Lyonpo Chenkyap Dorji was Secretary of Planning Commission. Ask the surviving prominent 4 officials,”Who stood up in lone isolation for His Majesty’s vision of staffing the Trade and Industry sectors with Bhutanese people and doing away with dependence on foreign employees?”
Late Dasho Rinpochhe of Tashi Group was very angry. He could not understand why I had issued a letter which 3 Deputy Ministers agreed with him that I should not have. Lyonpo Leki Dorji the then Secretary to His Majesty the King was also there in Dasho’s residence as guest, quietly drinking beer. After 3 hours of firing me from 6 to 9pm he said this Haap does not even utter a word and ordered me to leave. I politely submitted that I will leave after having the dinner he had called me to attend. I had my way. I deeply respected Dasho Rinpochhe and understood his frustrations especially because the high officials supported him. However, as officiating Director I only had the powers to implement the policies and not exercise discretion.
Dasho Dorji Tenzing stood by the letter I had issued as officiating Director of Trade and Industry until he too felt overwhelming pressure which forced him to report to His Majesty that based on my letter he had not extended the working permit for Tashi Group’s some 400 foreign employees. His Majesty’s command was that he found my stand was in line with the policy. That ended the matter but before that I was ordered by my Minister to withdraw my letter which I refused. But I did tell Lyonpo Om Pradhan that as my Minister he could cancel my letter but he wanted Lyonpo Zimba then the Director to do it. He agreed but before he got around in issuing the superseding order, Dasho Dorji Tenzing conveyed His Majesty’s command. That was the beginning of the end of foreign domination especially in the Trade sectors. (I have given the names of concerned people only for the reason to enable skeptics to counter check facts.)

4)      Ask Bhutanese dolomite owners as to who had stood behind them and told the giant Steel Plants of India that dolomite was our produce therefore they cannot fix the price as it was customarily being done in the previous years. I did a background study and fixed a reasonable rate for per ton of dolomite (much higher than previous rates) and told them that they could buy or leave it. I remember that the mine owners like Mr. Omtey Penjor of present Yarkay Group and Dasho Pasang Dorji of present Karma Group and others were very nervous incase the Steel Plant representatives did not give in to our demand. Somehow I held my jittery group together and finally the representatives of the Steel Plants gave in. Since then it has been Bhutanese dolomite mine owners who set the rate for their produce and the buyers from India who negotiated. Before I came to Industry Department it was the other way. The Bhutanese dolomite selling rate was fixed by the Indian Steel Plants who purchased the dolomites.

5)      As a private citizen, it was I who stood for Bhutan’s policy and demanded that Danida office leave Bhutan because it had undermined my country’s sovereign power. ( I never subscribed to this business of police clearance but it was and is a national policy and I just could not take it when Danida flouted it.) I wrote to all relevant Ministries and Agencies including that of Donors and UN Agencies in Bhutan expressing my views on the undermining of Bhutan’s policy by Danida so that everyone will understand how a Bhutanese feels. I still recall the near shock response of the Danida resident representative, “I never met a Bhutanese like you until now.” My response was, “Until now you had not undermined Bhutan’s sovereignty.”

6)      On behalf of Haa people I had also publicly stated that the people of Haa had a historical dependence on Bhutan-Tibet Trade for the livelihood of their families.  And if any foreign groups or agencies disapproved of such historical ties, maybe they could provide alternate means.

7)       Most recently the heart of Haa was threatened by money mongers hungry for new mineral mines. Nobody spoke up for the communities affected by the proposed OMYA- RSA Mining Project at Haa Dragong. All 3 representatives of Haa people were silent. Lyonpo Tshering Tobgay and the Haa Dzongdha who joined PDP later were aware of the community sentiment. NC Dasho Tshering Dorji was aware of it and Dasho Doctor Gado Tshering, DPT candidate was also aware of it and yet nobody spoke publicly against the project because quite a few big shots and well to do Haaps were supporting the project. It was only the general public who realized that their very community life was threatened. They had approached the Dzongkhag authority that washed their hands off the problem stating that the project was approved by Central Government. As a Haap I had to join them. Together we decided to once again approach the Local Government and the Dzongkhag Administration and if necessary approach the concerned Ministry and as a last resort if no Administration responded, we decided to approach His Majesty the King. It now seems that the Interim Ministry is responding to the cries of the communities of Haa. For record much later, politician seeking votes opposed the project because by then they realized the gravity of public sentiment.

So my dear anonymous goldenboy, don’t you or any Bhutanese ever assume that I am a firm supporter of DPT party. I am a thorough bred senior Bhutanese. I have but one life to live and I live it as a Bhutanese. No one owns me but my Country and what I do or say in public is inspired by pure belief that it serves national interest. And by the way, whilst Lyonpo Tshering Tobgay is firming up to demonstrate his full leadership qualities, it is never too late because he is just around 42 years of age whilst Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley is at his last shot at the Prime Minister’s post as per Constitutional dictates. And let me add that I deeply respect Dasho Nob Gyetse the father of Lyonpo Tshering Tobgay. Did you know that as a young RBG officer, it was he who arrested the assassin of the 1st Prime Minister of Bhutan His Excellency Jigme Palden Dorji? And now it is his son who is competing for the post of Prime Minister. Nobody can really say what awaits in the future!

And lastly in case you are too young to know I might as well tell you and those interested that I do posses some political insight and the necessary courage to state so because I do care for the well being of this nation. For example in 1998 when Cabinet was dissolved, I did publicly write and distribute a statement that I felt His Majesty the King was preparing for Democracy. And much later when the Constitution of Bhutan was being drafted, I wrote to the Chairman that having only two political parties in the General Election was not advisable for two reasons 1) It would not totally represent all the people of Bhutan and 2) That in such a small Country one political party could dominate and it might in the years to come, threaten the very core of national peace and stability i.e the Institution of Monarchy. Presently I do not see any such threat because our generation is still the part and parcel of the gift of Monarchy. I predicted the outcome of the Primary Election though I refrained from expressing in public. However, I did mention to those in close contact. My feeling was based on the domination of DPT and PDP in the public life of Bhutanese for the last 5 years and some very visible shortcomings of the other parties. But I must admit I am very impressed by the sheer gusto of the two women Presidents.

1 comment:

  1. I did not even bother reading article as the titile itself is an absolute LIE. I hate people who spread biased information but say they are apolitical. Every one knows you are a DPT supporter. And everyone also know that you lack morals and ethics, so this lying of yours is not unexpected.