Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sovereign rights is doing the best for now and sovereign future of Bhutan.

Cancelling the Southern Highway of Bhutan was never about security interest of Bhutan. Not just PDP formed Cabinet, the whole  Kingdom buckled under pressures from New Delhi. India suffers from fear mirage and  China hallucination. India thinks China will speed down from Doklam to the shelved Amocu hydro- project valley along the shelved Southern Highway from Samtse to Daifam and in the process swallow whole of North Eastern India from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh. India actually  must respect Bhutan as a sovereign nation with all the intent to remain sovereign. Not under Indian or Chinese hegemony. India has no basis for such fear of China if Bhutan remains truly sovereign.

Some 1962 era babies in New Delhi have yet to wake up from the womb trauma of 1962 consequences of Indian  provocations against China. And Bhutanese democratic leaderships are being overly concerned with preserving local national power and wealth. An attitude that demonstrated a kind of better surrender sovereign rights and live in personal comfort of local power and national coffers than risk being steam rolled like what happened to DPT in 2013.

Amusing to read the statement in the Parliament by the government that people did not protest cancellation of Southern Highway. I agree that there was no public marches and flag dragging protests. Thank Pelden Drukpa and may similar protests of Southern Bhutanese rebellion never again happen. But many did protest loud and clear against the cancellation of Southern Highway. Not violently but in clear writings and reasoned voices.  And I think no government should ever seek protests on the streets. Bhutan does not need nor can the nation afford such civil unrest. When public pleads and appeals that should be the wake up call for any well meaning authority to act positively.

I wish PDP Cabinet had shown the courage to apologise its inability the last time and now state in no uncertain term its determination to build a Southern Highway along the Indo- Bhutan border if it returns to govern the next 5 years. Such a highway is indispensable  for Bhutan and good even for India in the long run. I do not feel that a new Party Cabinet  can ever stand up to the evil forces against national sovereign decisions. Maybe not even the restructured DPT.

Nothing personal against the leaderships or candidates of the Political Parties. Just that I believe weakness of PDP Cabinet was mainly due to its inexperience and thus lack of confidence when confronted with high stakes in its initial years of governance.  And new Parties unfortunately suffer the same inadequacies and handicaps. But that does not mean experienced leaders should always govern at the helm. Maybe changes will bring about the necessary evolution in the Bhutanese democracy experience. Whether fate of Southern Highway or Trilateral India- Bhutan- China relationship fares any better under a different Political Party government is most uncertain as of now.

Maybe as election campaign heats up, the Four Political Parties will publicly define their interpretation of sovereignty for Bhutan in both internal and external parameters.   If so then may the most sincere to Pelden Drukpa ways come to power to lead the nation from the smog of outside political pollution and internal political  confusion.  


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Why diplomatic relationship with China?

Bhutan is not Taiwan or Tibet the breakaway/autonomous Provinces of China. Bhutan is a sovereign nation. And today all sovereign nations in the world have diplomatic relationships with China. Can anyone explain why Bhutan does not 
dare to establish diplomatic relationship with her only other immediate neighbour? 
China's relevance to Bhutan is her geographical proximity to Bhutan. Not that China is one of the five permanent members of UN Security Council or economic super power as important as these realities are.

India and China still have unresolved international boundary disputes. But they have diplomatic relation with each other. On the other hand, Sikkim another immediate neighbour of China did not have boundary issues with China. But Sikkim can never have diplomatic relationship with China. Why? The Kingdom of Sikkim was annexed by India in 1974 and is now a state among the Indian Union.

So how is Bhutan's present status any  different from that of Sikkim or Tibet if we dare not have diplomatic relationship with the closest northern neighbour? Bhutan shares a whole length of international boundary with China on three sides.

What does Bhutan fear in establishing diplomatic ties with China?  Annexation by India or simple fear of being overwhelmed by China? Unfounded and unimaginative anxieties only weaken the nation.  Should Bhutan remain forever the soft coy darling of mother India? Skeptics of Bhutan- China relationship may so wish. But then such people are mistakenly looking out more for Indian national interest than that of Bhutan.

Why are we so insecure to act upon our sovereign right?  Is it that we lack the national leadership capacity to handle equal open arms relationship with China? Or we are just too comfortably sunk in the largesse granted by India? Bhutan has to rise up to national responsibility of acting in the manner of a sovereign Kingdom.

From the time of the reign of His Majesty the Third King, I have submitted my hope that Bhutan would be able to achieve a position of true sovereign status by having good relationship with both India and China our immediate neighbours. I believe friendship with India is a must and friendship with China a political necessity 
and economic advantage.

I respect both India and China for their national size and goodwill towards Bhutan. I am not pro or anti China or India. Just an honest Bhutanese citizen adequately concerned to air my views. I do not call for less dealing with India. Just better realistic world wise relationship with China. There maybe individual reasons of self interests in being anti China. But no justifiable national reasons for freezing relationship with China to 1959 era. No modern leader can find a dignified place in modern history if acts and deeds only reflect bygone eras.

Bhutan's strategy in the past was necessarily India dependent. Given the delicate situation in early 1970s after the sudden death of the Third King, it is a political wonder that our Triple Gem 4th King withstood the political hurricanes from the south both from external and within. And still carried out the development plans, political transition and re-negotiation of the 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty.

The first national and international act of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck was to sign that re-negotiated 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty. I hope most Bhutanese citizens and especially the Political Parties have taken cognisance of the significance and royal intent for the future role of Bhutan as the sovereign Himalyan Kingdom.

Bhutan is geographically placed to be the most strategic buffer state between China and India. Now it is time for 21st Century Bhutan to capitalise on this gift of geography. Bhutan is land locked. Not strategically shackled. We hold three prominent natural highways from China Tibet to Northern Plains of India and vice versa. It is not for us to play cheap regional politics or take undue advantage of our strategic position. But it is the responsibility of a sovereign nation to demand and secure equal status and respect from both India and China. Just as we respect the might and right of China and India so must they value our strategic position, respect our national aspirations and sovereign dignity. Bhutan holds the key to enduring China- India friendly relationship. But first Bhutanese leaderships must step forward to uphold  their duty to foster sovereign dignity of  

Every nation in the world capatalise on their national assets. Most do so shrewedly, few foolishly. Bhutan is in possession of two national assets. Not materials like gold or petrolium. The geographical strategic position and the Wangchuck Dynasty. At one time in history before Communist Party came to power in China, successful annexation of Bhutan by British India or independant India were possibilties. Thankfully events of history preserved  Bhutan. Now there is no possibility of any outright annexation the Doklam way. Doklam was an unfortunate exercise of immature political leadership of Indian Prime Minister Modiji  giving in to war hawks.  At Doklam the Indian war hawks learnt that India cannot afford the price of annexing Bhutan the military way because the  geographical strategic position of Bhutan is equally crucial to both China and India. Though India took China by surprise at Doklam, China was not unprepared at Arunachal frontier. Occupation of part of  Bhutan was not worth the risk poised to Arunachal Pradesh. Thus the Indian Army withdrawl at Doklam. 

The real danger to Bhutan, therefore,  lies in political subversion the kind like Southern Bhutan Uprisings and ongoing fueling of regional divisions. As long as we have the Wangchuck Kings, it would be very difficult ( not impossible ) for any Political Party or group to barter away Bhutanese sovereigty. In here comes the Chinese equation. Once diplomatic relationship is established with China, it would be impossible to cheat Bhutan of her sovereignty even through political subversion.

The above is the answer to the question some have raised, " why diplomatic relation with China ?".

I have for decades appealed to our successive Kings and Prime Ministers to open up to China whilst naturally strengthening Bhutan- India friendship. " Not now " stand is disastrous national, bilateral and regional politics. We must wake up to reality ! It is not about China or India. Bhutan is our country and dignified relationships with China and India is to our ultimate national interests.     

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Political Parties and supporters " Hands Off Please ".

Do not infringe upon the basic human and civil rights of an individual civil servant. Lately such basic rights of civil servants have been objected to for narrow Party Political  gains.

Bhutanese democracy system is limitted democracy in that there are so much limitations imposed and so many rules set to discourage citizens from joining political process. And now those already in political field do not want fair  competition. So such political Parties are calling for rules to impose further restrictions to prevent other civil servants  availing the democracy induced openings that they themselves had availed to enter politics. Such restriction  is a start for creating another social class of elites and patrons. Beware fellow commoners.          

Why should civil servants have cooling off periods to join Politics when MPs of apolitical body the National Council do not have cooling off periods to join Party Politics?

Why should civil servants have cooling off periods when a candidate of one Political Party in the Primary Election can became candidate of another Political Party in the General Election without any cooling off period ?

Why should not  present civil servants aspire to be MPs and Ministers who are so highly paid? Why should they be subjected to cooling off periods when others before them had it another way?

Few years back there was such kind of cooling off talks by RCSC. I did not see any sense in such proposal then and still think it is a dumb suggestion.

Civil service is pyramid shaped organisation like most others. As one climbs up the ladder, the space gets narrower. So one must look out for other avenues like corporations, international agencies or private enterprises.

And since the introduction of democracy in 2008, political field has given a much wider opportunity for civil servants and all others including those who could not make it under set criterias. It is an equal opportunity for all Bhutanese graduates. You need no lifts from elites and no endorsement from patrons. Its all between you and voters. Keep it that way.

Now the field is far wider. The opportunity to become an MP or a Minister is there for commoners. . And do not screw it up by short sighted call to restrict civil servants from entering politics. This time it may be cooling off periods for civil servants and next maybe corporate employees  followed by other restrictions on race, caste and religion. And so on untill we are back to square one. Only those chosen by elites and Patrons. Remember it was civil service and development tasks that opened up doors of opportunities for the commoners. And democracy politics have widened that door far wider for commoners to have a say in the direction of the nation. Keep it that way.        

Bhutanese Political Parties were formed by civil servants in 2008. After resigning from civil service ofcourse. Democracy can be given due strengh and enrichment only by individuals who have capabilities of leadership and who have passed tests of competence. Civil service have such a pool of groomed individuals. Democracy cannot be translated into the rights of the common people by those "follow the herd " mentality. And by those with elite and patron attitudes only. Just because you are already in the political heirachy, do not fence it. In future, your own offsprings may not be able to climb over the barrier that you have built today to protect your turf. Democracy is a gift of opportunity to all citizens. Its like free education. Keep it that way.