Leopards cannot change their spots is the English proverb. The Bhutanese proverb is the stripes of tiger is exterior whilst that of man interior.
The Bhutanese editor has once again made China the belligerent when it was Indian troops that marched into Bhutanese and Chinese territories at Doklam.
Indian Army Camp on Sikkim side is just 150 meters from Chinese road extension spot at Doklam. And Bhutanese Patrol camp is away several Kms. And yet Tenzing Lamsang claims it was Bhutan Patrol that first tried to stop the Chinese road extension activity.
He further alleges that China expressed her respect for Bhutanese sovereignty in Talks but on ground level had kept encroaching into Bhutanese territories. How unfortunate and deluded an allegation at a time when it was India which marched her armed troops into Bhutan and claimed that Bhutan is her " Protectorate state ".
The Bhutanese Newspaper is accused of being an unofficial mouth piece of the PDP Party and this present Government of Bhutan. I found it more an Indian propaganda outlet during the occupation of Doklam by Indian Troops.
He writes that the Bhutanese Government refused to confirm whether it had invited Indian troops or not to Doklam. That was to keep China off balance he thinks. And at the same time, he confirms the fact that Bhutanese Army did not join the Indian Army at Doklam.
I do not know what communications he has with the higher ups in the Bhutanese and Indian administrative heirachies. But what he has alluded in his article " Bhutan triumphs at Doklam" is that Bhutan invited Indian troops but cleverly put forth a different face to China by not having Royal Bhutan Army joining the Indian Army at Doklam. A hide and seek sort of dubious political game?
I have no access to confidential government records or behind the scene political maneuvers or communications with high authorities of Bhutan or India. I go by past precedents and my down to earth honest respects for their Majesties the Kings and deep confidence in that no King of Bhutan would ever surrender his responsibility of defending Bhutan to another foreign force and that never will a Bhutanese King ever succumb to having his people and Kingdom a slave and protectorate to another foreign nation even if that nation is India the economic benefactor of past 11 five years development activities of Bhutan.
All I can say to such a gross misformation spread by Tenzing Lamsang under the cover of being the editor of Newspaper " The Bhutanese " is that Bhutanese people should know better. We have a responsibility to be informed citizens. We should know that Their Majesties the Kings of Bhutan had never shied away from defending the Kingdom of Bhutan. And that the Institution of Monarchy is respected by the citizens of all ages because Kings of Bhutan never engaged in dubious double political games. And in matters of national sovereignty, Bhutan never played hide and seek games with China and India. And what Tenzing Lamsang described is all about a hide and seek incident.
Indian troops could never haven been invited by Bhutan. Kings do not have hereditary nature of offering their crown authority bestowed upon them by the nation to another foreign entity. Bhutan has committed for almost 60 years on building Indo- Bhutan Relation. Bhutan just cannot publicly embarrass India for so many reasons. Thus Bhutan was not able to out rightly expose India's blatant aggression for what it was at Doklam. However, Bhutanese Government refused to publicly go along with Indian narrative. And the most tale telling sign was that Royal Bhutan Army totally ignored the transgressing Indian troops at Doklam. If Bhutan had asked Indian help, Royal Bhutan Army troops would have been there along with the Indian Army troops at Doklam.
The Doklam transgression was completey an Indian Army show of aggression against Bhutan. And Bhutan being militarily weak and economically dependent upon India was humiliatingly handicapped at Doklam to resist physically at Doklam or verbally in public the shocking Indian transgression.
China was ofcourse defending her interest. There is no doubt about this. But in defending her territorial integrity, China made Indian troops withdraw back to their own Sikkim border. The Sikkim border wherein Indian Army is usually based is only about 150 meters from Chinese road point at Doklam. So Indian troop retreat requires retracing steps back by 150 meters only. I do not hate China for making such a necessary stand and by default removing transgressing Indian troops from Bhutanese soil too.
Now regarding Chinese encroachments into Bhutanese territories in the past. Incidents have happened and there are roads built in what we call disputed areas. Unlike some recent youngsters who learned to write but are novice to China - Bhutan Border issues, Haa Valley my birth place was physically exposed to the first incident of " border encroachment" with Tibetan yak herders driving their yaks into what was traditionally Bhutanese grazing land in 1960s. I, too, like most people of Haa felt the wound of aggression at our door steps. At that time, I wondered why His Majesty the Third King did not react more forcefully. Maybe ask Indian help I thought. Yet Bhutan never approached India for military help against deemed Chinese border encroachment acts. Instead Bhutan informed India what was happening at the Bhutan - China Border. India had been very insistent on handling the Bhutanese border issues with China. So the Kings of Bhutan having little option, had not out rightly opposed Indian pressure on this score. But that does not mean Bhutan had amicably surrendered to India her sovereign right to discuss her own border issues with China. However, under the circumstances dictated by geopolitical compulsions, a different way of approach had to be found to reject Indian overlordship attitude.
Thus there was repeated back and forth encroachment incidents at the northern border. When Bhutan protested, Tibetans went back and again re- entered after a lull. And as usual Bhutan kept pressuring India who had insisted on taking up the border talks with China for Bhutan to do something tangible. China kept up the pressure at the border and Bhutan kept up the pressure upon India. But on the other hand, China refused to engage India on matters of Sino- Bhutan Border. China told India that she will only talk to sovereign Bhutan.
And finally India was taught a hard lesson in international politics. She cannot decide about the border of Bhutan and China even if India in many aspects had tiny Bhutan under her thumbs. India had duped Bhutan into equal nation friendship in 1958 then thereafter, had forced Bhutan into various submissions.
Bhutan surrendered to Indian leads in many peripheral fields ( Non- Aligned, SAARC etc.) but on core national sovereign affairs, the Kings of Bhutan gently steered away Indian hegemony trend ( UN membership, recognition of Bangladesh, the Border Treaty with China, the expulsion of Indian militant groups from Bhutan and the team of National Council and Opposition DPT Party firmly opposing ratification of BBIN Agreement signed by the Bhutanese Government and the recent silent stand against Indian troops transgression at Doklam).
As highlighted above, in real crucial national sovereign affairs, Bhutan somehow over time managed to outwit India. So it was with Bhutan- China Border Talks. After numerous incidents of Border encroachments by China into northern Bhutan, India was compelled to allow Bhutan to represent herself in the Bhutan- China Border Talks. That was how politics of Border encroachment played out. It was not so straight acts of aggression as was narrated by novice Tenzing Lamsang. He should have made some effort to analyse the information from Indian sources ( but then one must recognise the fact that all mouth piece have shortcomings that invite manipulation by generous powerful Agencies). But here suffice to say that few border encroachment incidents may have been politics of cajoling India down to her own sovereign affairs and not keep dictating upon Bhutanese sovereign affairs on Border issues with China.
Now Kulagangri mountain that was once reflected as being part of Bhutan by Geoglogical Survey of India (GSI). Bhutan did not then have a Survey Agency of its own with the required technical expertise. Thank you GSI but you should have physically set foot there and carried out the ground survey instead of making a guess work on Kulagangri in the comfort of your mapping room.
Unfortunately, for Bhutan the ground physical reality turned out to be different when Survey of Bhutan finally had the capability to map the national domain physical landscape. Most Bhutanese even laymen know the story of Tibetan great Saint Milarepa and his nine storey stupa type building somewhere in Tibet. Well folks, that place and stupa and other Tibetan settlements happens to lie in-between the mountain ranges of North Central Bhutan and Mount Kulagangri which rises on the other side across the Tibetan Plains.
In conclusion, I would like for all Bhutanese people to shoulder the responsibilities of being informed citizens. We are not haters of China or India at birth forget being so in the wombs of our mothers. But there are people who hate China from their time in the womb. I am not being racists. Just realistic about the valid reasons for most Tibetans to hate anything and everything about China. I would too if I am in any way connected to Tibet. I respect the feeling of Tibetans but refuse to adopt it for Bhutanese dealings with China.
Truly concerned Bhutanese citizens must beware that there are people amongst us who knowingly or unknowingly are sacrificing Bhutanese national sovereignty on the alter of personal birth hate for China. At Doklam, it was Indian troops not Chinese troops that occupied Bhutanese territory. So know upon whom to tag the belligerent term at Doklam.
Bhutanese of Drukpa or Lhotsampa forefathers do not have an alternate home. So as His Majesty the Third King once addressed the families of Bhutanese soldiers ( let me roughly provide the gist in english) let us value Bhutan as our only homeland.
His Majesty addressed thus:
I thank you for the sacrifice of your fathers, sons, husbands and brothers who are camped at Dadhue- Margaa in Thimphu in preparation to defend our nation. We Bhutanese have no option but to protect our land We are all farmers nourished by the very soil of our land. We have no other wealth that we can carry with us and find home elsewhere. So with your blessings and sacrifice, I intent to lead our brave solders to defend our Kingdom.
That address was given at Paro Palace ground where people of Haa joined others to hear the King. Bhutan thought China may cross into Bhutan from Arunachal in 1962. Thankfully China never ever aggressively attempted to disturb the status quo of sovereign Bhutan to this day.
There are some who think that my stand for my country arises from some hidden dislike for India or preference for China. Sorry that you suffer from limitations of vision. I can never say what China may turn out to be if China happened to enjoy the same economic, transit and thus the political clouts over Bhutan as India does now. I have never called for disengagement with India. I have never called for IMTRAT and DANTAK to leave Bhutan. What I have always sought is that India respect the crucial elements of sovereignty of Bhutan.
I have been very honest and substantive in my views. I do not dis- respect Indian or my own Bhutanese authorities. My objective is to express what I truly feel in the hope that the leaders of Bhutan and India make corrective measures to establish a genuine respectable cooperation between our two nations that recognises equality in national sovereign aspirations.
I am not a disruptor and not a happy go lucky individual. I care for national unity and regional peace. I want friendly neighbours not overpowering friends. I respect my Kings and do want to contribute to the preservation of the political relevance and national dignity of the institution of Bhutanese Monarchy. That is why I value essence of being truthful even if some deem it to be against the reverred authority.
I was the first Bhutanese long before Lyonpo Om Pradhan wrote his book " the roar of the Dragon " to talk honestly of Southern Bhutan Uprising. I wanted the nation to heal and our Lhotsampa brothers and sisters to comprehend the national validity of the ways of the Fourth King. I was the first to defend the meeting of Prime Minister Jigme Yoeser Thinley with the Chinese Premier. Not for JYT sake but for Bhutan in the long run. I may be again the first Bhutanese commoner to publicly seek conclusion to Bhutan- China Border Talks and establishment of diplomatic relationship with China. My feelings have nothing to do with India or China per se. I personally believe that opening up to China consolidates Bhutanese sovereignty status among world commity of nations and expands opportunities to achieve our development goals. I am fully aware and also am satisfied that India will remain Bhutan's closest friend and generous benefactor. But unlike few of my countrymen, I do not accept this prevailing " master- mistress relationship " that India politically terms as " Protectorate ".
From 1970s ( when I pushed for opening up extrene northern Bhutan to tourists from the western world against Indian Embassy reservations and direct hard currency payment against order issued by Reserve Bank of India to Travel Agencies in India who co- ordinated foreign tourists tours to Bhutan) some people have warned me of RAW action of elimination for those that oppose Indian hegemony. I never took it seriously. If I had placed my own personal safety and interest before that of my Country's national interests, I would never have been able to state the truth. People fear not just Indian but our own authority so they claim to choose silence. But that way, our leadership hierachy will never know the truth that lie within the hearts of the common citizens.
P.S. ( I managed to establish direct links with travel agencies in foreign countries and also secured direct dollar payments for tours to Bhutan before I left Bhutan Tourism. The Chomolhari trek through northern Bhutan is still a popular sought after trek. What I achieved was only in the course of performing my entrusted official duties during those 1970s period. Today I hope I have succeeded in sensitising fellow Bhutanese to the necessity of having good relationships with both India and China.
And lastly I do not consider any Bhutanese or Indian my adversary. Those who express resentment or throw insults my way are not in my age or experience bracket nor are they free of fear or prejudice. I answer them only to prevent further public deception by their falsehood but I do not consider them to be worthy friend or foe. They are neither below me or above me in terms of race or blood. The difference is where we feel the pain. Bhutanese sovereignty is core existence for many of us and for few a means to barter for personal convenience or easy livelihood. The difference is not in race, blood or culture it is in thought and attitude). Peace be to all.