I was inspired after reading an article by someone who wrote of why it is necessary to sometimes vote against someone even if that person is heading the political party of your choice. In fact, the author says, one must vote against that person even if one doesn’t support his opponent! He gives a number of reasons for this. Namely, he lists the ways in which the person he elected has consciously made unacceptable decisions. He lists those unacceptable decisions and challenges others to do the same. Each person can make their own list of unacceptable decisions or “deal breakers” as he calls them, breaking the deal between the elected leader and the voter.
So what are the deal breakers of the DPT government led by the PM?
1. Sanctity of the King
With the Land Act, the DPT has gone against the King’s Kasho. The Land Act is to be rewritten in spite of the King explicitly stating that it is not necessary. Also GNH as the national development theory is handled by the PM alone and not the King.
2. Indo-Bhutan relation
This is the foundation of the socio-economic progress of Bhutan and the result of the work of three Kings. India has not had such ties with any other country. Bhutan receives more aid from India than any other nation! With its moves toward China, DPT has jeopardized this safety net of Bhutan
The start of the DPT government was marked by actions against RICB staff claiming extra DSA, health officials in procurement scam and by the very public humiliation of a Geology and Mines official for sharing inside information with his family. Many have lost jobs, some are in jail. Yet…
- The PM’s aunt receiving exhorbitant rates for her rural land in Pema Gatshel is justified as a “sacrifice” by the aunt and the PM for the nation.
- The Chang Ugyen case of taking 7 acres of public land in Thimphu and selling it has died a quiet death. Influential buyers (including RMA Governor Daw Tenzin) have been allowed to keep their land as innocent buyers. Chang Ugyen has been asked to return a few acres to the nation. He roams free.
- The Gyalpozhing case brought by the ACC details the clear corruption involved in allocating land to the ministers and influential people. In spite of the fact that the land allocated far exceeded the plot sizes set for the township, and the fact that the land was actually not even in the township but in prime area near the Kurichhu project, the PM and ministers have stated that “it is the right of any Bhutanese to ask for land. Is it a crime to ask for land?” The OAG has agreed.
- Lottery case: running into hundreds of crores, this case was closed quietly with only the Director of Lottery resigning (he had only a few months left to superannuate) even though Lyonpo Zimba, Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu and Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk’s wife Aum Yangki were directly involved.
- The Health Ministry is identified as being a den of corruption. Dr Gado Tshering, the health Secretary for many years and prior to that directly in-charge of all procurement and hospital works, is given a clean record and allowed to resign. He has now joined the DPT as a political candidate.
4. Tobacco Act
A 23 year old monk is sentenced to 3 years of jail in March 2011 for possessing Nu. 120 worth of tobacco. This is followed by petty businessmen, labourers and housewives. The government realizes it is a problem only when the non-Bhutanese break this draconian law as it does not know how to deal with the foreign governments on the issue. So authorities start to go soft on tourists and Indian workers. Bhutanese continue to be prosecuted. In spite of the general acceptance that the law while well meaning, is too stiff in sentencing and seems to criminalise tobacco users while larger crimes go unaddressed, the DPT refused to amend the law.
5. Pedestrian day
Again all of Bhutan and the world agree we must save the environment but DPT finds the perfectly wrong way to go about it. Without consulting any public agency, and without enough city buses to hop on and off for tens of thousands of civil servants and businessmen, they impose P-day. Taxis make a killing. Students skip school, parents are late to work, construction companies lose one day as do all businesses. Loss of productive efficiency all across the government and economy. Traffic volume actually goes up because of people using their vehicles anyway to go to work before and after the set hours, while using taxis in between. Again, the DPT refuses to accept its mistake in spite of good advice from the people.
6. Trowa Cinema land case
A clear example of how influential people buy public land at throwaway prices. And an example of why the DPT wants to amend the laws to allow public land to be sold or auctioned as per the desires of the government and thromdes. The buyer is Kinlay Wangchuk, father of PM’s daughter’s husband. His other son is married to a royal family member.
7. Ad-hoc and indiscriminate appointment of favourable people into important positions without proper procedures
Zimba’s unqualified brother as Governor of Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), pliable and related to Zimba, Foreign Secretary Yeshay Dorji bypassing a much senior Tobden Rabgey, husband of PM’s sister ex-minister Dago Tshering as Special Envoy of the PM, Tibetan Pema Gyalpo as Advisor to the PM, political appointments in the office of PM, Tenzin Rigden from the media to the PM office, and then back to the media, the pliant BBS MD without qualifications,
8. Targeting media houses which attempt investigative journalism
Not negative journalism. Explicit instructions from the minister to ban advertisements to The Bhutanese newspaper.
9. Collusion with big business and influential people
Foreign banks fronted by the Tashi Group and Riverview family, Chinese companies fronted by PM’s family, airline license to Tashi Group, telecom license to Tashi Group, tax and power tariff subsidies to DPT supporters and relatives such as Damcho Dem, Passang Dorji, Gallang Rinchhen, Tashi Group, Phub Zam of Yarkay Group, Yeshey Norbu of Norbu Bhutan Travel, etc.
10. Public lands being taken over by relatives and influential people
Huge areas of public lands from over 10 to 60 acres each have been fenced in in Thimphu by PM’s family such as ex army head Gen. Lam Dorji, Riverview family, Damcho Dem, Bap Kesang, royal family members, Tobgye S Dorji, Passang Dorji, and so on. All waiting to legitimize their illegal land as soon as the Land Act is changed and government has the right over land. With the new act, the government will control all forest land and all thromde land.
11. Use of official tours to introduce PM’s son and son-in-law to prospective business partners
Trips to India, US, Japan, Korea, etc., all included these two men and they meet the biggest tycoons of that country who attend the meetings knowing very well that the PM of Bhutan is behind the two men. PM’s son-in-law is Kesang (Riverview family), the brother of Sangay Wangchuk (married to royalty). The two are known to make their case to any foreign investor that they are the son-in-law of the fourth King and the PM.
12. Fundamental change in Bhutan’s foreign policy without consulting the Parliament
13. Rupee crisis
While the PM claims this is an old issue, why did Bhutan not suffer such hardship in the past? Why are the needs of mid and small-scale businesses not being addressed? Loan payments are being affected and people are losing their homes and assets. DPT government interventions are always at the highest level such as new banks, new airlines, new mobile companies. The interests of small contractors, travel agents, petty shopkeepers and retail agents are dismissed. Now the RMA says we have a dollar shortage.
14. Civil service neglected
MPs have regularly criticized the bureaucracy, blaming it for so many ills. One MP even said on national TV that corruption is done by the bureaucracy which holds the purse strings and manpower. Civil service independence is not even discussed, let alone practiced.
15. First lady’s intrusion
Meanwhile the PM’s wife travels around the country with a large convoy led by a RBP pilot, with armed forces’ wives and bureaucrats’ wives and Dzongkhag officials forced to attend to her.
16. The attitude
So many more can be listed, but lets just end with the grand statement of the PM, while travelling around the world, “What crisis? What problem?” That is the final straw.
These are my list of deal breakers and I will not vote for the DPT this election. Even if I don’t find another party to support I will abstain from voting. Another 5 years of broken promises will be my own fault. These five years have been DPT’s. Give some other party a chance.