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THE BHUTAN TODAY

Restricted for Private Circulation Only

VOL XV
NO. 3
September-November,2013
Druk National Congress - Political Organization of Bhutan
 

 

K5 is no longer ‘people’s king’


The Fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck was portrayed as “People’s King” by his coterie in this social media age. Few months ago, the picture of his sacred portrait being desecrated has emerged in the social media. Although authenticity of such picture is in question but appearance of such picture in social media is bad enough for the-until-now- unblemished image of the Fifth King.

Religious discrimination is still unabated under Fifth King reign. A congregation or initiation of Drukpa Kagyurpa is promoted by the state. The foreign disciples of Drukpa Kagyurpa were provided free visa and all the logistic support were provided by the government.  But when it came to Nyingmpa religious congregation, foreign disciples were strictly filtered by the immigration department and many were turn away from the border check post.

In the east, voluntary labour forces( ZhaptoLemi) is still continued. For the building of Basic Health Unit, Government offices or army barracks, the Villagers are mandatory required to provide the voluntary labour force. Surprisingly, in western Bhutan, people have been exempted from providing the voluntary labour force over a decade. It is plausible, Fifth King is unpopular because of his ‘flaw in human nature’ but desecration of his picture must be condemned if such actions were true. King is the head of the state and people should respect the office.

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King disowning the tradition?

King had set a precedent in 2008 when he awarded the orange scarf and patang to the opposition leader on 17tth June. The Prime Minister and cabinet had received their orange scarf and patang on April 12, 2008.  This time around, Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, the opposition leader is yet to receive the orange scarf and patang. 

Is the  King trying to disown the tradition and precedent that he himself set in 2008? PDP has been a favorite among the two parties to the  King and  allegations of King campaigning on behalf of PDP during the just concluded General Election has not gone down well with majority of Bhutanese.  King’s action is only providing credence to all the allegations and further creating dissatisfaction among party members.

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Right to information


The Constitution of Bhutan under Fundamental Rights (section 3)  “A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to information”.  Bhutanese are endowed with the right to information under fundamental rights that are even not found in advance democratic nations like India. Yet, the Prime Minister’s  recent remark on RTI Bill that the Right to Information (RTI) Bill in Bhutan is proving to be divisive and will constrain the government’s ability to govern demands the strict censure.
People have right to know what their elected leaders do after all the policies enacted and implement have a bearing on the life of common people. For five years, people never had an opportunity to access the information as the instrument of seeking the information were absent inspite of RTI being in Constitution as fundamental rights.

The Druk National Congress demands that RTI bill should have the purview of expenses of Royal Family and the Army.  Bhutanese people have the right to know how their tax payers money and grant received on their behalf is being accounted for.

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Election Commission duplicity

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) had come under the scrutiny and sanctity of the institution has been affected. The Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kunzang Wangdi’s discharge of duty is under scrutiny. According to the audit report tabled in the  Parliament, the DPT has Nu 0.63M to resolve while PDP has Nu 25.6M that has clearly violated the Public Election Fund Act. Both the parties would not have been permitted to participate in July General election.
The ECB had issued the clearance to PDP and DPT that their financial statement is in order. But the Audit report in Parliament state both parties have uncleared dues.
The nexus and connivance of Election commission of Bhutan, PDP and DPT has come into fore.  The ECB under Chief Election Commissioner  Dasho Kunzang Wangdi had  implemented the laws related to election in the  letter without a slightest leeway. For example, Bhutan Kuenam Party was disqualified by ECB to participate in Primary round of election for failing to name a ‘tentative’ name from Gasa constituency. The reputation of Constitutional institution like ECB had been brought down by the unscrupulous personalities  like Dasho Kunzang Wangdi.

***

Nepal must assist in delivering justice to Bhutanese

“We [Bhutanese] owe gratitude to Nepal for providing refuge and raising the issues of human rights abuses committed by Bhutan in international forum. However, we are saddened at the handling of our issues by the Nepal Government. “ said Tek Nath Rizal, Bhutanese Human Rights leader at the programme organized by the Human Rights and Peace Society to observe the United Nation  Day. October 24 is observed worldwide as the UN Day since On October 24, 1945, the United Nations (UN) Charter came into force.

Mr. Rizal was critical of third country resettlement process and warned that Nepal should hold Bhutan accountable in finding the political solution to issues of Bhutanese refugee. He expressed his optimism of Bhutanese issues being in top priority once new government is formed after the upcoming election.
Mr. Krishna Pakhri, former President of Human rights and Peace Society, Dr. Rajan Bhattaria, foreign policy expert, Rameshwor Nepal, Amnesty International, Nepal and Mr. Yadab Kant Silwal, former secretary General of SAARC were other speakers at the Programme.

Karma Duptho, General Secretary of Druk National Congress was also one of the  Bhutanese delegate present at the Programme.

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Condolences


Prof. Balraj Kumar , professor at Delhi University and former Vice-President of Indo-Bhutan Friendship society  passed away a month ago.
Prof. Balraj Kumar was a Champion of Civil liberty and always raised his voice whenever human rights and fundamental rights were curbed, oppressed or suppressed. He was of a very amiable and helpful nature.  A friend of Bhutan, Bhutanese people and refugees, he always took keen interest in the activities of the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society.

He had visited Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal along with Shri SatyaPrakash Malaviya, the then President of Indo-Bhutan Friendship society in 2000. He was a friend and a strong supporter of Bhutanese democratic struggle.

President of the society Prof. Anand Kumar and, other office Bearers and members, and Shri Kesang Lhendup , President of Druk National Congress have deeply mourned his death. They condoles his death and prays to the Almighty to grant peace to the pious soul and solace to all his friends and relatives.

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Missing

Mr. Tshering  Gyaltshen, Actor and Film maker and Mr. Tendzin Rigden, former press secretary to Prime Minister are allegedly missing. Accordance to unsubstantiated report by newspaper allegedly  owing the loyalty to PDP had published that some people in DPT meeting on 19th July at YDF hall had shouted the slogan, “ Short Live the King”. Many people had allegedly pointed that the duo were responsible for inciting or shouting the slogan. Both had received death threats from allegedly PDP supporters thereafter. It is believed both were held in secret prison.

The Constitution guarantees due process of law. Both are entitled to access the law and the government must release both from illegal detention. 

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Bhutanese Diaspora sent letter to Bhutanese parliamentarians

Bhutanese Diaspora spread around the globe had submitted a letter to Bhutanese parliamentarians congratulating them and drawing their attentions on issues of justice to Bhutanese refugee and aspiration of Bhutanese diaspora.
Bhutanese Diaspora had asked the Government of Bhutan to initiate the repatriation, release of political prisoners, allow the family reunion without fear of persecution and integration of exile political parties in Bhutanese democratic process. They have expressed their commitment to contribute in the development of Bhutan.  Bhutanese diaspora want ties with the homeland and urged the Government to utilize the huge human, financial, professional and intellectual resources for the greater good of the country and the people.

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Royal Annuities Bill Still Elusive

The Constitution of Bhutan was adopted on the 18th of July, 2008. Article 2, Section 13 of the Constitution states that, “The Druk Gyalpo and the members of the Royal Family shall be entitled to: (a) Annuities from the State in accordance with a law made by Parliament”. Second parliamentary election has concluded and a legislation governing Royal Annuities is absent.  Even the Government Budget failed to mention the expenses of the Monarchy. How has the Institution of Monarchy been supported these past years?

The unsubstantiated report stated that sum of Nu 273 million has been spent on the recent marriage ceremony of Prince.  Another four marriages is on the card.
The Prime Minister talks of austerity measure and yet organizes lavish marriage ceremony.
Isn’t it the public’s right to know how much of their hard-earned tax money will be spent on the upkeep of the Royal Family? Then why does this crucial Act evade every Parliament session?

***

China-Bhutan Border talks
A joint Sino-Bhutan expert team have conducted a technical field survey of  Pasamlung,an area north of Bumthang  between September 6 and September 9  as agreed in the 21st round of Boundary talks between Bhutan and China held in Thimphu on August.

An eight-member Chinese delegation had stated that  the talks were held in a frank and cordial manner and had provided the opportunity for the two sides to better understand each other’s positions on the issues related to boundary, and in arriving at an early and amicable settlement of the boundary between the two countries. However, a critic argues that settlement of Sino-Bhutan border dispute is unlikely in the immediate future because of Bhutan’s immense respects to India’s concern. India and China is yet to resolve their border.

***

Non-Resident Bhutanese lost the election
Mr. Birendra Dhakal lost to Ahmed Hassan, a Somali-American candidate, by 18 votes in the city council election of Clarkston city,Georgia in the election result announced on November 6.Before becoming a refuge in Nepal, Birendr aDhakal was a planning officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Royal Government of Bhutan. He hails from Lamidara Village in Tsirang District in South Bhutan. He had landed in Georgia, US eleven years ago and had now obtained the American citizenship.

Mr. Birendra Dhakal is the first non-resident Bhutanese who has plunged himself in political carrier in America. More will follow his suit in future. Over seventy thousands Bhutanese diaspora are in America.

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Resettled Bhutanese Committing Suicide

Mr. Ram Bahadur Gurung, 73, resettled three months ago in Concord, NH, USA has committed suicide.   Six resettled Bhutanese have ended their lives in November, 2013.  Over thirty resettled Bhutanese have committed suicide in America in the last five years.
The host country accepting the Bhutanese refugee must initiate social policy to mitigate the suicidal trends in resettled Bhutanese.

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India commits NU 5000 Crore to Bhutan

The new Prime Minister, Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay visited India in September and met the  Indian Prime Minister.  The Indian government has committed a total of NU 4,500 crore for the 11th Five Year Plan and a separate package of Nu 500 crore for the Economic Stimulus Plan.
Bhutan is yet to receive NU 500 crore to initiate new government’s economic stimulus plan.  Failing to receive the money on time means the PDP government’s 100 days pledges have only few to show for.

***

HUROB request India for repatriation

The Human Rights Organization of Bhutan (HUROB) submitted a letter to the Indian Prime Minister requesting that the Bhutanese refugee problem be raised with the Prime Minister of Bhutan and in help in repatriation of Bhutanese refugees.

HUROB demanded that the Indian Government should mediate and initiate a dialogue with the dissident leaders and the Bhutan Government for a peaceful resolution of the problem through national reconciliation as 15 rounds of bilateral talk between the Governments of Nepal and Bhutan were a complete failure and yielded no positive outcome.

“The peaceful resolution of the problem is of paramount importance to Bhutan for its long term stability and permanent peace, and to India for stability and peace in the region.” reads the letter further.

Likewise, Santa Bir Ghallay, coordinator of the Elderly People committee For Repatriation, had also submitted a letter to the Indian Prime minister to initiate the repatriation of those Bhutanese refugees who don’t want to opt for third country resettlement.