Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why not just shelve the miserable Druk air incident. A nightmare that that is not allowed to go away. Why further torture the public sentiment ?

Why not just shelve the miserable Druk air incident. A nightmare that that is not allowed to go away. Why further torture the public sentiment ?

So now Ministry of Communication wants to know about the Druk Air dumping a helpless very sick passenger who was on his way to Bangkok to seek medical treatment. And the Ministry of Health is investigating why a registered Doctor with the Medical Council of Bhutan issued the air travel fitness certificate. Why the charade ?

According the the media, Druk Air says it will provide the same clarification made in the Press Release   And the Doctor confirmed that he issued the certificate and had not revoked it ( contradicting Druk air claim) and in fact he again issued a similar one when Bhutan Airline wanted to fly the patient to Bangkok ( reference Kuensel ). And the patient was successfully flown to Bangkok without suffering health mishaps in the air, as certified by the doctor who issued the air travel fitness certificate.

Though the patient was initially deplaned by the Druk Air pilot, the final decision to refuse flight passage to him was taken on the ground not on the plane. I somehow cannot believe the decision was taken alone by the Pilot. Druk Air HQ is at Paro and these days mobile phones enable instant consultation with any concerned authority if necessary.

Raising hands or not raising hands when a question of yes or no is asked is voting though Druk Air denies voting took place. Maybe to Druk Air voting was not done properly  as per Election Commission procedure because CID was not verified and fingers were not inked and EVM was not used. And most crucially it was not sanctioned by the Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan.

A tourist couple maintained that they had initiated collection of contributions from the passengers. . In fact later,  out of pity they even offered to fund 50% of a chartered flight cost according to the tourist husband. Druk Air said they initiated the collection. An Initiator usually is the first and primary contributor. Just how much of the sum equivalent of the 1700 dollars collected as contribution was put in by Druk Air ? The inability to take on board the patient because of odour problems may not be a subject of investigation. But the other facts or lies need to be investigated if Ministry of Communication is really genuinely interested in correcting denial disease to the extent of falsifying records by any participant or stakeholder. Otherwise let bygones be bygones instead of rubbing salt to a wound that can hardly ever be made good.

I hear that the odour from the sinus patient was really bad and so it is understandable that other passengers especially in the Business Sector would express their difficulties since the patient was in the Business Class. It makes no difference now but I wonder if the patient could have taken the flight if all other passengers were shifted towards the front and the patient with family members arranged to be seated at the tail end of the plane. Maybe a compromise could have been reached that way.  Of course it is possible that the flight was absolutely packed or the patient family refused the seating arrangement at the tail end which is doubtful. According to a foreign tourist ( Kuensel ) the family was crying uncontrollably as other passengers proceeded to embark again. So the family seemed desperate and I feel any seating arrangement may have suited them except grounding their patient.

I had read the letter of the daughter to Druk air. Later a fb friend requested me to respond on line but I told him to wait for positive official response because the case would have already reached concerned authorities. I never imagined that drulair would cold shoulder the public dismay and the state of the patient.

I was, therefore,  shocked and saddened when I read the BBS news online stating that when contacted Druk Air responded they will only comment on Monday. It seemed the patient was too insignificant for such a proud and indispensable Airline as Druk Air status to bother about. Even the only National Broadcasting Television Service was unable to solicit a response from the Management of Druk Air.

The decision to dump the patient may have been made under stressful circumstances but why did Druk Air Management chose to ignore the public outcry when contacted by BBS on Saturday ? There was no CEO so maybe everything was confusing for a headless organisation. A system failure I suppose ! It is perplexing. Due to intense public pressure Druk air responded on Sunday but by then drukair had to know that the patient had reached Bangkok hospital on another chartered flight.

Regarding the much touted Powers of a pilot. I would not dispute the absolute powers of a pilot though I do not know the rules of engagement in civil aviation.  World events have demonstrated the powers of pilots. A hero pilot landed his plane with damaged engines on a river in New York to save all passengers and possibly the plane. A murder pilot deliberately flew his plane into the Alps in Europe killing all his passengers. So pilots have life and death powers over the passengers. Then there are cases of unruly and even smelly but otherwise healthy passengers being sent out of the planes by pilots. However,  I do not know if sick and helpless patient certified fit to fly and needing crucial professional  medical attention that is only available 4 hours flight distance away has yet been dumped by any pilot or by Airline Management.
The patient has died in a hospital in Bangkok and nothing can change that. Now if Communication Ministry wishes to make things easier for such future patients they could consult how it is done elsewhere and propose fitting regulations. Its no use beating a dead horse for solutions. Let Druk Air be taken over by the new CEO and hope for better social attitude thereafter.

And if registered medical doctors are not allowed to practise their profession then deregister them. Why register them as medical professionals and then impose rules barring them from practising. The whole thing is very confusing and in a way nationally demoralising . A national airline of the Kingdom cannot fly a helpless sick patient who is in dire need of  professional medical service and a registered doctor of the Medical Council of the Kingdom cannot issue air travel  fitness certificate though it has been demonstrated practically that the patient was fit to fly as certified. There are exceptional rules for exceptional people and no win rules for general people. How are people to comprehend the system?


  1. Dear Wangcha Sangey,

    By now you ought to know a thing or two about Bhutan and the Bhutanese style of governance:

    1. We are always reactive - we simply do not have the sense to anticipate things

    2. We don't solve problems - we impose bans

    3. We adopt laws because the Chilips have adopted them; we don't try to understand if those laws are relevant or applicable given our prevailing conditions.

    4. Our present and future problems get ignored because we are too busy digging up past problems. By the time we have solved the past problems, we have accumulated a sackful of new problems to solve.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Dear Anonymous. You have to be quite stuck on blaming the pilot. I never and do not blame the pilot. But you keep on insisting I am blaming the pilot. So I assume that you actually think the pilot is at fault. Maybe the pilot who ever he is could decide after reading all my comments and your comments. I suppose you are not anonymous to him.