Thursday, January 30, 2014

Personal Perspectives on Current Events IV

National Assembly Act Amendment

By a show of hands the National Assembly voted to amend its own Act as under:

1.       A National Assembly member will have to refund the General Election campaign fund the state provides if he or she voluntarily resign before assuming responsibilities.

2.       An elected member may resign on grounds of physical disability or mental incapacity.

This amendment puts to a tame end to the furor of the ruling PDP Party against the resignation of former DPT President. In my opinion, it was all a most unnecessary and irrelevant furor. In other countries a Political Party would rejoice if the leader of the rival party resigns or is ousted after a General Election. However, in Bhutan, this does not seem to be the political attitude.  The amendment cannot have retrospective impact on the resignation of former DPT President. And it raises the issue of authority for that period between declaration of General Election results and Swearing in of elected members of National Assembly. An un-constituted National Assembly cannot exercise power over that time period of political ‘Bardo’. This in-between space of time is a kind of no man land between the Election Commission and National Assembly.

I invite the Legislators of National Assembly to a closer examination of the Constitution. The National Council is designed to be a continuous House and more over His Majesty the King is also part of the Parliament. Therefore, the Parliament of Bhutan is never fully dissolved. It is only the National Assembly part of the Parliament that remains dissolved until it is reconstituted after the General Election. An MP elect cannot be held answerable to a non-constituted National Assembly and the National Assembly Secretariat does not have the necessary power to deal with the resignation of an MP elect. The National Assembly Secretary could submit such resignation case of MP elect to His Majesty the King for appropriate decision. The Constitution might not provide all details in black and white but the way it is designed seems to reflect that the powers of the vacated Constitutional post or Body until reconstituted would revert back to His Majesty the Constitutional King.  The members of the Interim Government headed by the Chief Justice of Supreme Court are appointed by His Majesty and the members of NC and the Cabinet are given Dhar by the King.

UN Happiness Day verses Gross National Happiness Day

The 2nd National Assembly of Democratic Bhutan has decided to acknowledge the UN Happiness Day of 20th March but do away with the national holiday that was instituted by the 1st Parliament. It also decided to dedicate 11th November as a GNH Day in addition to the already dedicated Children’s Day and celebration of the Birth Day of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

As a Bhutanese citizen and an admirer of the GNH philosophy of the 4th King, I am deeply grateful and vastly appreciative of the President of United Nations General Assembly for declaring the UN Happiness Day. It is a great world tribute to our King and Kingdom. And as I did last year, I shall light a butter lamp this coming 20th March, 2014 to celebrate with the rest of the world the philosophy of Happiness being central to good Governance as so advocated by a great King who came upon the Dragon Throne of Bhutan in 1972.

The Tobacco Law

This draconian Law needs to be vanquished because it is creating a kind of social holocaust for the have not masses. Tobacco is legally affordable only by those with money and time to spare. An ordinary Bhutanese citizen cannot devote 3-8 days in a month to visit border towns of India to procure in person the legally permissible monthly tobacco quota. It is not permissible to buy 12 months quota at one go. And no other persons even close relatives, off-springs, siblings or parents can buy the quota for another family member. The Law was designed to demonstrate the powers of the new political elites and the helplessness of the poor masses. Tobacco and Doma is a pleasure for the well offs and a refuge of stress relief for the poor. The Legislators who are supposed to represent all walks of Bhutanese have one choice: vanquish the Tobacco Law or vanquish Tobacco altogether.

Indian Politics

The 2014 General Election in India will not only determine the economic progress of India but also its relations with other countries. Presently the political game in India is at a stalemate. The Pundits are quite perplexed by the new populist AAP Party. Could AAP Party + Congress steal the thunder from Modi led BJP? One thing seems clear. Rahul Gandhi’s position has been weakened since the day he so crudely and brutally attacked UPA Cabinet and Prime Minister and publicly tore the political ordinance on corrupt politicians. And now his high moral stand has been proved shallow by his partnership with Lalu Yadav of fodder scam (Personally I find Lalu Yadav a fascinating character with exceptional political acumen). Recently a UPA member NCP has called upon Rahul Gandhi to respect the Supreme Court verdict on Modi and AAP Party has called for the reinvestigation of 1984 Delhi anti-Sikh riots.

The Syrian war

The Syrian Government delegation has not agreed to discuss the issue of Transition Government but Talks are being held with the Opposition Parties. The fact that the two sides are meeting is in itself a hopeful sign but as long as the Opposition insist on the removal of Al Assad, there may never be a peaceful settlement. Russia and America may have to work out a dignified position of less political influence for Assad before a political settlement between the warring parties can be negotiated.  

Arab Spring

The Arab Spring is experiencing its winter especially in Egypt. The Army is now preparing to consolidate its power in civilian suit with the Army Chief proposed to be a presidential candidate. It seems Revolutions in Middle East do not lead to Democracy. It’s simply more chaos.

Thailand and Democracy

Come 2nd February, 2014, Thailand will decide who will occupy the relic position - Rule of Democracy or Rule of ancient Elite. It seems that the people in majority prefer the ballot box to settle the score and the Thai Army has for now decided to support the Government’s decision to go ahead with the polls. Whatever happens, Bangkok would still be a popular destination for many Bhutanese shoppers and I wish the people of Thailand Peace and good Business.

The Polar Freeze

For quite some time, environmentalists have been citing the polar ice melting as a sign of Global Warming. This Winter the opposite is happening. There is over freezing of both South and North Pole regions. It just proves that mankind is still far behind in unraveling the mystery of the Creator. May be the world is in danger of either being deeply frozen or deeply fried.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Major Policy and Political shift by Bhutanese Parliament

On 22nd January, 2014, the 2nd session of the 2nd Parliament of Bhutan held it’s opening ceremony. The Speaker Jigme Zangpo in his address expressed the gratitude of the Parliament to His Majesty the King, His Holiness the Jhe Khenpo and the other “two eminent Lams venerable Namkhai Ningpo and Dzongsar Jamyang Khentse” (reference Kuensel Dzongkha edition of 23rd January, 2014).

Traditionally the Speaker on behalf of the Parliament expressed thanks and gratitude to the King, the Jhe Khenpo and the Dratsang. The Institutions of Monarchy and the Central Monastic Body are symbols of national sovereignty and identity that represent nation-hood in conjunction with the people and the geographical structure of the Kingdom. However, in this 2nd session of the 2nd Parliament, it seems that the Dratsang has been relegated by the Parliament and His Holiness the Jhe Khenpo and the venerable Lams Namkhai Ningpo and Dzongsar Jamyang Khentse have been placed at par. The opening session of the Parliament is graced by His Majesty the King. There are also representatives of foreign countries and agencies as well as senior officials of the Royal Government. The event is also live telecast. So what is stated in such an august Hall reverberates. It seems that the Speaker has exposed a major shift in the political and celestial affairs of Bhutan.