Bhutan’s disowned appeal to Tshering Tobgay
by Thinley Penjore on 18 Jul 2013 1 Comment

The first and foremost achievement that Bhutan made after one hundred years reign of the system of monarchy is the emergence of democracy with constitutional monarchy having been proclaimed by the throne at the crucial hour of continued peoples’ call for a change in the system of government, in keeping with the global trend.


We saw the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) sailing with bravery and valor when it was confronted with a landslide victory of 45 seats (of its opponents) in the first ever election since the proclamation of democracy in Bhutan. We have since observed your performance as opposition leader in parliament and in the performance of your duties. This convinced the people of Bhutan to give your party a chance in the second election. We have closely analyzed the induction of members from phased out parties during primary election and appreciate your careful steps in bringing them into your party and taking up a massive countrywide campaign.


The campaign slogans and issues that you raised at the most crucial moments, like the rupee crunch and lifting of subsidies on petroleum and cooking gas by India, are issues that we applauded. We also appreciated when your party members did not miss to capitalize on the corruption cases that surfaced from Mongar district court. All these put together helped moving obstacles ahead of you and paved your way into the present moment of success.


Further, your well planned wisdom of coining phrases and bringing surprising promises to the people, such as helicopter service, bolero distribution at grand level, assurance to help resolve census problems in the south, assuring six ministers from the east, qualified doctors in all rural health centers and ambulances were all those which the DPT failed to mention, are much appreciated. Having made these promises, amongst others, we humbly express our trashi delek on the landslide victory of PDP under your dynamic and charismatic leadership during this second general election. We are confident your party will keep to the assurances.


You will agree that Bhutan’s growth depends on adequate manpower, both in terms of technical and administrative sectors, besides taxpayers at the grass roots level. Having been sailing through controversial border talks with the northern neighbor, the former government has since long been going bitter with India with whom Bhutan cherishes the longest and closest friendly relationship in terms of economic, cultural and technical cooperation. Your party has a heavy responsibility lying ahead of you to patch up the worsened relationship as well as maintaining the sanctity of our country’s sovereignty, cherished since time immemorial.


Democracy will not be lively unless the government and the people accept that as much as the government has its contribution in the emergence of democracy, the people of Bhutan had played a vital role for democracy and human rights in Bhutan.


Hence, parallel to the proclamation of democracy, the unconditional release of political prisoners is anticipated with general amnesty to others whom the outgoing government considered anti-national for demanding change in the system of governance that ultimately emerged in 2008. The new government is thus anticipated to resolve the political problem that emerged for want of democracy since 1990.

In other words, the issue concerning Bhutanese refugees need to be resolved without any prejudice and to show the outside world that the GNH campaign benefits everyone irrespective of race, religion, language and culture in Bhutan. Otherwise, the slogan of GNH will be incomplete, no matter to whatever extent our people benefit from economic progress the government would bring about.


The new Prime Minister has great responsibilities and an uphill task ahead. As a leader of the opposition in parliament, he served during the reign of the fourth monarch. Many leaders have parents who served the third monarch.


But the new Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay, hails from an ordinary and common family, and hence the people of Bhutan expect him to understand all the aspirations of the common masses. We appeal to the new Prime Minster of Bhutan to understand in-depth the problems the nation is facing that actually threaten our sovereignty and independence but also the continuous socio-economic development of the country.


We urge you to urgently address certain promises made by your party. Specifically, we want on a priority basis, the resolution of the longstanding citizenship and census imbroglio, which has deprived a large chunk of the population from exercising their voting franchise.


Allied to this, we urge resolution of the long-standing refugee problem by accepting the repatriation requests of those who are genuine citizens and anxious and willing to return to their homesteads.


Above all, we wish the unconditional release of all political prisoners.


The new government is aware that over one-sixth of the population of Bhutan has been deprived of its citizenship and voting rights, and languishes in third countries of the world, all the while desiring only to return home. This is an urgent appeal for a lasting solution to the involuntary exile / refugee problem, which we hope you will extend the priority it so justly deserves.


The author is president, Druk National Congress (Democratic)

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