Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Doklam Standoff between China and India is more complex that what is made to appear.

The public may be under the impression that Indian soldiers are still at Doklam side claimed by China. That cannot be true.  Indian soldiers had gone into the disputed area between China and Bhutan upon which India has no claim of her own.  However, it is apparent that the Indian soldiers were pushed back and subsequently Chinese soldiers had entered the Indian line on Sikkim side and even destroyed few border post make do shelter of the Indian Army. So now both must be at their original post albeit with additional re- inforcement.

The video footages in fb of Chinese and Indian soldiers confronting each other are of different times and at different place , not at Doklam. The Indian Army has been very tight lipped about the present Doklam incident. Therefore, there is no chance of them sharing video footages.  

In the year 2012,  India and China had agreed not to interfere into border issues that India or China may have with  Bhutan or Burma ( Myanmar) at tri-junction boundaries.  And on that basis, the Border Agreement between Indian Sikkim and Chinese Tibet was finalised. It seems that both the Doklam status of China and the  Nathu La Trade Route Opening were part of several  overall understandings reached between India and China. Also during the Sino- Bhutan Border Talks, the Chinese position on Doklam Plateau was very clear and firm from the very beginning. Bhutan understood the  Chinese claim regarding Doklam.

This time at Doklam, India had breached that Bilateral Agreement and understandings between China and India when Indian soldiers  transgressed into Doklam. And now in retaliation, China is  abrogating that Agreement and demanding that Indian Army withdraw back from its existing position at Sikkim -Tibet border. China is insisting upon re-negotiating the Tibet- Sikkim border.

India had not expected such a strong reaction from China. And caught flat footed, tried to wriggle out of the tight corner by saying that Indian Army entered Doklam at the request of Bhutan Army. In other words declaring that Bhutan is a " Protectorate " of India. And projecting a international posture of India protecting  tiny Bhutan from a big bully China.

Bhutan naturally cannot support such blatantly invasive contention of India. Bhutan is a sovereign nation and member of UN. Not a "  Protectorate " of India.   And anyway China is not buying any such blabbering from India.

It appears that an overzealous Defence Ministry of India ordered the Indian Army intrusion into Doklam area. Maybe it was one strategy aimed at foiling Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement happening during the next Ministerial level Sino- Bhutan Border Meeting. It could also be an internal strategy of Defence Ministry officials to push through lucrative Defence Purchase Deals through hyping Sino- Indian conflicts at sensitive border points. Defence Deals worth billions of dollars could result in huge dividends for those making the Deals. And any sign of heightened tensions with China or Pakistan could hrlp to seal big defence related procurement Deals. 

Whatever the reasons may have been for the unprecedented transgression at Doklam, the Indian war hawks  had not  envisaged such a huge fallout upon the Sikkim -Tibet Border Agreement and the Kashmir conflict.  India had already breached part of understandings with China by playing up the Dalai Lama card at Arunachal. And Doklam intrusion sort of broke the camel back. Since the departure of the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to take up the post of Goa Chief Ministership, the Defence Ministry of India under Shri Arun Jaitley has been embarking upon a new defiant policy against China.

It is also quite clear that Indian Army Command was against such a confrontational move at Doklam.  But had followed the order issued by the Defence Ministry. The fallout from the foul up by the Defence Ministry has compelled Modi Cabinet to trim away Defence Ministry bureaucratic  powers and transfer the same to the Indian Army Command. Recently the strategic and defence powers including armament procurement authority of both the Chief and Deputy Chief of Indian Army have been considerably enhanced.  India may also find it necessary to appoint a full time new Defence Minister. Presently Shri Arun Jaitley is holding double portfolios of Finance and Defence Ministries. And that may have lead to war hawks at Defence Ministry taking over.   

India could be prepared to fight 2 and 1/2 wars at the same time. But this is turning out to be 5 and 1/2 wars. Chicken Neck, Arunachal,  Kashmir, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea plus that 1/2 meaning internal security. And America, Japan and Israel cannot be trusted to fight from Indian side against China in case of war. Going against three nuclear nations China, Pakistan and North Korea for sake of Indian interest alone is not sufficiently tempting for United States. And in any case, other world powers would love to see India and China bleed each other as they look upon from afar.  What America and other nations dread is the two Asian powers teaming up.

China was fully aware of behind the scene Indian pressures upon Bhutan in  Sino- Bhutan Border negotiations throughout the last 34 years and 24 rounds of Talks. But China could not take punitive action until India directly and openly showed her hand. And this time at Doklam, India unmasked herself. That was what China was waiting for. 

Now I think an Indian advance peace team is already in Beijing to be joined by Indian Security Advisor later. India is adopting a conciliatory approach to save the 2012 Sikkim- Tibet Border Agreement. The Indian Diplomat and Security Analyst Phunchuk Stobdan who recently authored the article  " India's Real Problem lies in its Foreign Policy, Not Border "  seems to be  also a member of the Indian advance team at Beijing. His article is a sign of conciliatory gesture from the Government of India.

The Doklam standoff crisis may dissipate  if India truly backs off from Sino- Bhutan Border negotiation and in other areas like opposing One Belt Road Initiative and stop playing up Dalai Lama card.  I hope all goes well between our giant neighbours. War is terrible for all of us.

There is no written security pact as such between India and Bhutan or Bhutan with China. However, if Bhutan is invaded by either India or China, one could rightly assume that the other giant neighbour will get involved because of their respective concerns for national security. For both India and China, Bhutan’s buffer status is very crucial and non- negotiable.  As of date,  Bhutan has a 2007 Treaty ( revised 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty)  with India which recognises each other' s sovereignty and declaration of friendship.  Likewise Bhutan has an Agreement with China which also spelts out respect for each country's sovereignty and declaration of friendship. 

In regards to Doklam crisis, I would  like to reiterate that I have always had tremendous faith in the working of the Deities. And I hopefully pray that what happened at Doklam this time is a way of the Deities to clear the path for  Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement. There is always a possibility of a silver lining to every dark cloud. I dare to be optimistic as well as forthright.

May Triple Gem watch over the Kingdom and guide our Leaders. Pelden Drukpa Gyel Lo ! Lha Gyel Lo !

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Truth of India and Bhutan Relationship versus China equation.

A lot of interest shown by Bhutanese fb friends in the article in fb post  " India's Real Problem lies in its Foreign Policy, Not Border".

It was authored and posted on 14th July, 2017 by Professor Phunchuk Stobdan a foreign policy expert of India.

( A brief about the author courtesy Google). Ambassador (Prof.) P. Stobdan is a distinguished academician, diplomat, author and foreign policy expert. He has been India’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan until recently. Ambassador Stobdan has earlier served in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). He also served as Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies in Jammu & Kashmir. He is the Founding President of the Ladakh International Centre, Leh. Ambassador Stobdan is currently Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the United Services Institution (USI). Ambassador P. Stobdan is a leading columnist for Indian Express and other national dailies in India.

I thought it may serve Indo- Bhutan equal interest to share my own perspectives. So I sent an email to the  distinguished author and hopefully through him other Indian Experts and Analysts will be aware.

pstobdan@gmail.com       14th July, 2017

Sub; " India's Real Problem lies in its Foreign Policy, Not Borders "

Dear Sir,

I went through your feeling and views. You are a sincere well wisher of Indo-Bhutan friendship. Hopefully there is room for such understanding and accommodation in the power halls of New Delhi.

I could never fathom why Indian leaders and advisors still suffer from the subjugated trance of British Raj Era ? In almost all dealing with her dependant neighbours especially the two landlocked, India is not satisfied with " Namas-te" greetings. One is required to bow from kneeling position. A copycat attitude of British Raj to Indians.

I suppose you realise that if the push comes to shove as they say,  it is not possible for India to takeover Bhutan without China claiming over half the Kingdom. It's a touch and go situation. Presently Bhutan's status as a buffer nation actually guarantees the security of the oft quoted "chicken neck " of India and her North Eastern Frontier States.  A divided Bhutan can place the whole of Northern India in peril.

However, if India does not obstruct/ hinder Sino Bhutan Border Agreement, this will guarantee the security of all of Northern India. It is therefore,  actually in India's interest to encourage Bhutan to sign the Border Agreement with China. Instead the successive Indian leaders have taken out their British Raj era humiliation upon the only nation and people that they can safely bully. To allow Bhutan to sign Agreement and have relation with China is elevating the national status of Bhutan and Bhutanese people which Indian cannot stomach. It seems that the Indian ego which is so badly bruised under Whitemen subjugation, cannot accept Bhutan as an equal neighbour. Thus it is not Indian national security priority nor the fear of Chinese invasion or competition that prevents India from giving Bhutan the go-ahead to friendlier ties with China. It is the psycological burden of accepting Bhutan as an equal neighbour that haunts the false Indian elitist pride. 

I suppose Indian experts are well aware that what was once part of Bhutan like the Duars and Doklam was wrested away by British India. Doklam may have been originally that of Tibet before Bhutan took over. At one time in Bhutanese history, Bhutan had land in Ladakh , Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim and in north eastern India the Duars. But British India changed all that.  Bhutan was given a yearly cash annuity for the 18 Duars as the tax collected from those domains was important revenue for Bhutanese heiracy. The other domains  had more to do with religious purpose than revenue. So probably these were simply written off.  Anyway British India sold  Doklam back to China.

Bhutan cannot get back the Duars or Doklam or the other religious domain in Nepal, Sikkim or Ladakh.  In the revised 2007 Indo-Bhutan Treaty that " annuity clause " regarding the 18 Duars  was taken off and so was the clause " foreign affairs to be guided by India". In other words an exchange was concluded though never highlighted or publicly stated for claim against Duars in exchange for freedom in exercising foreign affairs by Bhutan.   

Can you imagine what such an  "annuity clause " be worth to a mighty nation in the modern era when everybody is claiming something off another?  That may be the reason why India removed it when Bhutan insisted upon self auhority in foreign affairs as a member of UN. You may be aware that India did not willingly back Bhutan's admission to UN. India had no choice when she realised that King Jigme Dorji Wangchcuck was prepared to go broke on that score. 

Bhutan is too small and weak to assert her historical domination and have wisely chosen peace and sovereignty within the physical space that we have as of date. We have no alternative but to choose peace and friendship with India. Likewise we have no alternative but to forget Doklam as we have foregone the Duars and other religious domains and sign the Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement so that what we have now remain ours for eternity. 

There is much affection and respect for India within the larger Bhutanese community. However, there is resentment and fear, too, as you pointed out. I do not know what secret magical  hold India has over the Wangchuck Dynasty but whatever it is, that is wearing rather thin. I feel Bhutanese can accept and live with their King no matter what India may say or reveal about our deeply respected Dynasty.

Democracy has been introduced by the King and the process cannot be halted. And with democracy comes more free thinking and more questions that can be uncomfortable to answer. And as amenable as the last two Kings have been with Indian approach to Bhutan, 34 years and 24 rounds of delay tactics in negotiations with China in compliance to never ending dictates of India upon Bhutan, can wear out the utmost patience of China with Bhutan and that of Wangchuck Dynasty of Bhutan with Indian leadership. Afterall their Majesties are the true son and grandson of the King who once declared, " would rule as a sovereign King or not at all ". And probably the people of Bhutan ,too, would be exhausted in search for a chance for dignified peaceful existence. And take matters off everyone's table. 

I feel for sake of durable genuine love and frienship between the people of India and Bhutan, India should wisely and generously permit Bhutan with adequate leeway in signing the Border Agreement and have diplomatic and trade relations with China. This will not change fundamental basis of Indo Bhutan friendship and reliability. It will only enhance the political status of Bhutan as a more strengthened Sovereign Buffer State and enable a less stressful China and India relationship.

May there be more such thinkers like you and may Indo- Bhutan friendship reach a healthy level of equal love and respect. 

I wish you well Sir. 

Sincerely

Wangcha Sangey

Bhutanese Auto Dealers, Ministry of Finance and GST effect.

Business has ups and downs. And Ministry of Finance should not be protecting Auto Dealers from the GST consequences. If auto prices go down let the customer benefit in full. When prices go up, the Auto Dealers make the customers take the fall.  It is wrong to allow Auto Dealers to fix a price to recoup losses on cars in stock due to GST application.  In that way, future customers will be paying higher cost always because greed has no bound.

However if Government wants to work out a way to compensate for its own loss of income from  usual  exercise refund on all goods then that is understandable.

It is high time that Government put in place a transparent pricing structure of products like cars sold by restricted number of General Dealers. Dealers must have profit but prices of products sold on Monopoly Basis , must be controlled and made transparent by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Affairs through their respective Executive  Agencies. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dear concerned journalists of Doklam conflict.

I do not engage in fostering media hype of a situation. For this reason I do not accept  interview requests or answer questions sent to me that are out of the context of my article. But I am ready to sit down with any reaaonable entity and at appropriate place in regards to the content of my article. I can defend what I wrote. However, please do not ask me to guess how all Bhutanese think or who likes or dislikes whom and what is to happen, hereafter, to Doklam and Bhutan and consequences with her neighbours. I was and am only interested in clearing air about Royal Bhutan Army alleged role in the Doklam standoff between India and China.

For many media houses and journalists, the objective could be to create more controversies and thereby more news rather than reveal just facts.  My article on Doklam dealt with one fact. That was that Royal Bhutan Army would not have asked Indian Army to intervene. And I provided substantive reasons backed by past events to base my stand. Simple. Not supporting India or China. And not questioning any relationships. Just demonstrating that the reason for Indian Army entering Doklam a disputed area between China and Bhutan cannot be attributed to Royal Bhutan Army.

And to a degree the article was validated.  Since then Indian sources have stopped playing up that Bhutan Army angle and stuck to Indian security concerns. And Chinese did not readily accept the blame put on Bhutan Army.  However, I take no credit. Looks like few Bhutanese fb friends shared my article and their journalists friends saw the opportunity to translate it into Chinese language and had published the translated version along side my original article in english. That caught attention of many in the world. And Indian media representative offices in Beijing also noticed. So attention of both Indian, Chinese and others including scholars and analysts were drawn to my article. Whoever translated and published the article was responsible for getting the facts out for a wider audience to scrutinise. 

My article " Understanding Sino-Bhutan Border issues at Doklam. Search for truth "  was intended to reassure our own people that Royal Bhutan Army was not a messenger boy of the Indian Army as was implied by the allegation. I had no idea that my article would find wider audience and impact those in China and India. I blog on many  issues of both national and international nature.  In Bhutan some  people pay attention because they find me forthright and also often I was proved right by turn of events. But outside media never noticed what I wrote. It suited me fine. I seek no publicity or popularity like a journalist. I am quite self comfortable  in my individuality within Bhutan.

Just two examples to illustrate my point to outside journalist/ media that what I wrote never mattered nor noticed by them till now. Therefore, I had no reasons to assume that this time it would be any different.

When Rahul Gandhi tore up the Ordinance whilst PM Singh was in Washington,  I wrote that his action signaled  the beginning of end of Congress Party  because he was challenging the old guards who actually constitute the backbone of Gandhi Family Congress Party. 

During American Primary Election Phase, I wrote that Trump was the one to watch out. And I think I was among the few political watchers who concluded that Hillary would lose. I also expected the backlash of old political establishment of both Parties Republican and Democrat against President Trump.  Not initially with the aim to oust him but to tame him to their interests also. American Presidency is more of a high stakes within American political and corporate establishments than to the world at large. Maybe same in other nations also.

It really does not matter to Bhutan which Political Party comes to power in India or who becomes American President. Generally, these two nations operate within the same set foreign policy parameters towards Bhutan. I wrote about these simply because  comprehending political developments accurately is good mental  exercise. And sharing the same with fellow Bhutanese can be of mutual benefit.

At Doklam whoever wins whether it is China or India, for sure Bhutan cannot  have it. Even if China gives Doklam to Bhutan, it is clear from recent developments that India will takeover for her strategic purposes.  Unless a totally new arrangement is feasible, under prevailing circumstance, either way,  Bhutan is out.  Whether Bhutan can move forward and seal the Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement depends on the political acumen capacity of Bhutanese leadership. I do not for sure know how strong is Bhutan's claim on Doklam since our history is more oral based than documented in writing. And India's contention is in worse shape  as she was under Britain until 1947. And it was British India who sold out Doklam to China.

But for sure whatever comes out of Doklam conflict, Bhutan Army will remain for Bhutan to keep and Bhutanese to trust. Thus my expression of confidence in the integrity of our own Army.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Silence is for double dubious Dealers not for true Bhutanese citizens.

The allegation that Royal Bhutan Army sought the help of Indian Army at Doklam is a crushing blow to our sovereign honour.   This is above and outside any other issues that Bhutan may have with China or India. So do not belittle this by bringing up other issues. Deal with this at all cost. Do not hide for the whole wide world has been informed. Only the guilty or the colluders will remain silent.

Please understand that the allegation that at Doklam the Royal Bhutan Army fell at the feet of the Indian Army seeking help is a huge dishonour to our Defence Force and the Supreme Commander. This allegation over shadows any other grievances that Bhutan maybe having with either India or China. It is a very deep national wound and humiliation. And defeats the very purpose of having a Defence Force and great Supreme Commander. 

In regards to Doklam, whatever the Royal Government positions maybe, I do not believe that RBA would have sought Indian Army help to confront any construction party of China at Doklam or anywhere else at the Sino- Bhutan Border. If that was so, why even station our Defence Force at the international Borders? Bhutan might as well hand over the security of our international borders to the care of respective Indian or Chinese Armies if we believe that the role of Bhutanese Army is that of frightened begging boy between the Armies of India and China.

On my part , I deeply respect and sincerely honour the sacrifices made, the physical hardships undergone in the harsh Himalayan weathers and the enormous courage shown by our soldiers and officers in  guarding our international borders be it in the South, North, East or West of the Kingdom.

The Royal Bhutan Army has always stood their ground and up held their duty and responsibility.  And no one has any political or moral right to discredit such an honourable national defence force of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

I have no personal issues with The Bhutanese or its Editor. There is no merit in pettiness. And I have no preference for neighbours as such has been decided by the Creator of the Universe.  But I do  appreciate the generous economic assistance and free trade and transit granted by India to us. I do want for India to  remain our number one friend though I believe that Bhutan should have diplomatic and trade relationships with China also.

However, none of my general feelings has any relation to how humiliated I feel at this  allegation that Royal Bhutan Army failed the nation at Doklam. No !  I will not keep silent at this gross insult and injustice to RBA and to the whole sovereign honour of the Bhutanese Kingdom.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

National Amenities and their necessities.

Druk Air, Tashi Air ( Bhutan Airlines ) Helicopter Service, Hotels like Taj Tashi, Le Meridien etc are very costly investments but essential assets that enhance national convenience and prestige. And when such amenities are shouldered by the private,  the load becomes lighter for the nation.

Long ago, there was BGTS ( Bhutan Government Transport Service ). It represented movability for the masses and hence social connectivity. Not a commercial profit oriented enterprise but a pivotal engine of national connectivity. An active symbol of nation awakening together. I still believe that such a basic transport service should  be set up by the  state covering all routes as means of affordable transport facility for the needy. The private bus service agencies can provide high quality mini bus services in commercially viable sectors.

Air services to India and destinations even if only to few other Countries widen national horizon. Promotes international connectivity thus bringing Bhutan and rest of the outer world closer. Hotels of international recognition and standards facilitate international conferences, workshops and seminars in Bhutan. Especially convenient when state visits happen. These establishments are long term investments that would take years to generate profit but fill national needs immediately upon operation. 

Druk Air was established by the Government and still owned 100% by the Government. And its contribution to national sovereign status is immeasurable. Tashi Air and Taj Tashi Hotel are privately owned Companies of Bhutanese investors. And Hotel Meridien of Thimphu and Paro are said to be joint ventures between Bhutanese and Indian investors. Bhutanese investors are the larger shareholders. The names Taj and Meridien are of the hotel chain  management groups of known international brand who bring into the country high quality services and standard of Management. 

They manage and operate the hotels at a fee and dictate the kind of facilities and qualities that are hall marks of all such international hotels managed under their brand logo. The details goes down to kind of  specifications for bed sheet and cutleries for dinning.  The ultimate loss and profit are passed on to the investors who owns the hotels.

I admire the endurance and fiscal stamina of such long term investors in airlines and hotels  in Bhutan. The market is limitted and scope of additional income from related peripheral activities is near nil. Actually in terms of commercial profit, in Bhutanese context, it is better to invest in a shopping mall than big name hotel. 

Helicopter Service within a mountainous nation is a must and if managed efficiently, the gestation period is short. Not at all like an airline. I hope few more helicopters will be pressed into service. The operation cost will come down per helicopter and rate could also become more affordable. Helicopter transport is cheaper both financially and convenient time wise. So much travel time is saved and ground hassle avoided.  And during emergency, there is nothing better than instant reach. To have the means to deliver or be there at the moment required is also a strength of a nation. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

NDTV and Doklam

Dear NDTV

Please be little discerning when talking on this sensitive subject. The Royal Government has not confirmed in any manner that Bhutan asked India to intervene. India said initially Bhutan asked  and then gradually reworded to " in coordination with Bhutan ".  Actually Indian Media and other sources referred to Indian Army and Chinese Construction Party confrontation in the 1st week of June. Bhutan Government demarche of 20th June asked China to maintain status quo as of 16the June. It is possible that such a demarche was issued at Indian request because they were caught flat footed and needed an excuse for the transgression after Nathula closed.

There were always few frictions at Sino Bhutan Border and all were always solved without ever seeking Indian help. Sino Bhutan Border is Bhutanese sovereign affair as one of your guest tonight stated. Bhutan never said Bhutan was being bullied.So please do forget your feverish narrative " tiny being bullied by big". What Indian Media propaganda!

Your ex Army guest is over shooting.  The so called swap was in Central and Western Northern Sino Bhutan Border. Not at Doklam. ( Reference Today Bigfigt  )

From: sangeywangcha@gmail.com
To: BIGFIGHT@ndtv.com

Time: 9:12 pm Date 08-07-2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Fiscal Incentives the flashing constitutional controversy in Bhutanese Politics.

1. I first heard of it when MP Tharchen of NC made a reference in fb. But did not understand the basis. 

2. Next there was the call for resignations of PM and FM by DNT. Since they directed the attack against two individuals and not the whole Government, it simply looked politics of personal attack in nature.

After listening to the two leaders PM and OL  live at BBS, my feelings are as follows.

a) BBS should show the specific paragraphs of Supreme Court Judgement dealing with Fiscal Incentives if such was part of the whole judgement on taxation requiring to be a Money Bill. The Opposition Leader could also have read out the relevant judgement during the interview  if DPT was absolutely confident of their interpretation of the judgement.

b) The PM had declared that the Supreme Court had not taken away the Government's prerogative in providing Fiscal Incentives. He seemed confident on this score.  He also said that as Opposition, he had never questioned this prerogative of the Government whilst sueing the Government on motor vehicle tax raise.

c. The Opposition Leader stated that he and his Party was under the understanding that the Supreme Court Judgement had taken away the Government's prerogative on Fiscal Incentives. However, the same judgement had not censured the Fiscal Incentives already given by the DPT Government. He felt the judgement came into force from the day it was issued.

All in all,  the Opposition Leader was saying that the two Parties had derived different interpretations from the same judgement of the Supreme Court. In my view, it is quite unlikely for concerned Political Parties and Agencies to have such opposing interpretation of a what was termed " a Land Mark  Judgement " in the first constitutional case. 

The Opposition Leader, however, did confirm that PDP had not litigated Fiscal Incentives in  the constitutional case. The then the 2 member PDP Opposition had only challenged the Motor Vehicle Tax.

Conclusions:

a) Whose interpretation is correct can be determined if and when specific part of Judgement on Fiscal Incentive, if any,  is made available to the public. The judgement was several  years back and most would not be able to recall off the cuff.

I do not recall that the  judgement had covered Fiscal Incentives. It was not an issue raised by PDP. As PM stated on BBS, it may have been part of defence arguement of DPT Government to support  the taxation on motor vehicle without Parliament approval. The  Government had power to grant Fiscal Incentives and therefore,  by the same virtue, the Government should have power to levy tax, could have been the line of arguement.

Still, though Fiscal Incentives was not under the scanner at that time, maybe the final judgement had touched upon it. Only a scrutiny of the actual text of the judgement would reveal the facts.

b) Until I heard the Opposition Leader state that the Supreme Court judement of the first constitutional case had taken away the Government's  prerogative on Fiscal Incentives, I never thought of " constitutional breach " .

I suppose when the PDP Government had granted Fiscal Incentives in January, 2016, the Opposition DPT must have opposed the same then and there pointing out the unconstitutionality of it. It is not possible to follow all issues discussed during Parliament Sessions or in the public domain.   And I do not recollect that DNT had publicly raised any objection until recently in the media.

Just for reference or information, as per set precedent, guilt of constitutional breach does not end in automatic exit of the guilty political party. But a correction in the course is implemented. 
  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Understanding Sino - Bhutan Border issues at Doklam. Search for truth

The recent Doklam event has many versions. The Indian media naturally had the versions of their Government though they  shared what the Chinese also said.

More than the Indian media,  it was  Tenzing Lamzang of The Bhutanese who attempted to expound the Indian Government positions/ views upon the Bhutanese public through his lengthy article titled " Understanding the Doklam border issue ".

The best way to seeve the truth is to visit history of various events relating to Sino- Bhutan Border and compare with this recent inflated and manipulated Doklam incident. So now another lengthy article in response to Indian media and Tenzing Lamsang article.

1. Initially from late 1960s and through 70s, the Government of India made attempts to discuss with China on the issue of China- Bhutan international border demarcation.   

2. China rejected all such attempts by India. China maintained that Bhutan which is a sovereign Kingdom should stand for herself and deal directly with China.

3. So India had to permit Bhutan to directly deal with China on the border issue. That was how the Border Talks began between Bhutan and China from the 1980s. Since then 24 rounds of Talks have taken place in most cordial manner. And much progress have been achieved. India was always kept in the loop by Bhutan.

4. It is possible that the public of Bhutan feel that the Talks are taking too long. Similar views also have been aired in the National Assembly of Bhutan . I understand the innocent frustrations. Under the past absolute Monarchy system, people are used to instant decisive decision of a King. Many do not understand the complexities involved in international boundary demarcation. The case is more perplexing since the Government is in no position to bare all the uncomfortable truths including heavy pressures from India to demand more strategic land from China.  

5. Also the Indo- Bhutan international boundary in the South was demarcated so quietly.  The public did not hear anything about Bhutan negotiating with India regarding her international border in the South with India. It is possible that Bhutan was in no position to negotiate. Bhutan is more vulnerable to a takeover by India than by China. Also Bhutan has no access to outside world except through India. And moreover,  Bhutanese economy and commerce are totally dependant on India including travel from West Bhutan to East Bhutan in the South of the Kingdom. Against such geopolitical constrictions, Bhutan probably had to accept at where ever,  the Survey of India decided to lay  the Indo- Bhutan international boundary pillars. Thus the quiet smoothness and the speed when one side makes decision for two sides.

6. The fact that China is willing to negotiate with Bhutan on the international boundary of the two nations is I believe a giant step forward for Bhutanese sovereignty. I am grateful to China for this sovereign courtesy. I am even more grateful to India for all the economic assistance  and freedom of trade and transit that enabled Bhutan to develop thus far. But I do love Bhutan ever more.

7. There is no doubt in my mind that Bhutan would want to finalise the Sino- Bhutan Border Talks and sign the Agreement. Bhutan has to be fully aware of the limitations of demands we can make upon China. And at the same time Bhutan is in no position to ignore the strategic interests of India. There is too much pressure. That is why  Doklam the tri-junction Plateau is drawing multi attentions. It will be a blessing in disguise if China or India forcefully just takeover  Doklam Plateau. The so called status quo is endangering the status of whole of Bhutan. 

8. For Bhutan, Doklam holds no extra strategic significance than any other part of the Kingdom.  But for both India and China, this Tri- junction is considered most vital. Unfortunately for India, the international boundary between Sikkim India and Tibet China at the Doklam Tri-Junction was decided long time back. So as vital as whole of Doklam Plateau is for Indian military strategic interest, there is not much that India can do through her State of Sikkim. The Sikkim door which India possessed is closed.

9. India, therefore, is pushing Bhutan to claim as much as possible the part of Doklam Plateau in the Sino- Bhutan Border Talks. India knows that she has the clout to use Bhutanese territory to serve her strategic interest. So what India herself had forfeited in negotiation with China, she now wants Bhutan to re-claim. This places Bhutan in a very difficult position. Every inch of Bhutanese land is sacred. To claim land for our own is justifiable. But to demand disputed land from China for Indian strategic purposes could endanger Bhutan. In demanding more, Bhutan loses the moral ground  to even claim what is rightfully hers. 

9. Bhutan is placed in a near impossible position. China will never surrender the strategic position that  she had already gained at Doklam Plateau during  negotiation on international boundary with India ( State of Sikkim ). And India is insisting upon  Bhutan to wrest from China larger portion of Doklam Plateau that India could not get whilst negotiating with China on Sikkim-Tibet international boundary.

10. China wants to have better relation with the sovereign Kingdom of Bhutan. And wants to settle the border dispute in the interest of promoting closer ties including diplomatic relationship.  And  China has shown willingness to accommodate Bhutanese requests/ stand in other parts of the northern border. But not at the Tri-Junction where China shares border with Indian State of Sikkim and Bhutan. It seems that  China had made her position clear to India in regards to Doklam status even when negotiating with India on the internal boundary of the State of Sikkim which borders Doklam along with Tibet and Bhutan. There is no way that China will give in to India through Bhutan front. The Government of Bhutan knows this and wants to be realistic and conclude the negotiations without further adieu and sign the Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement. But Bhutan does not dare to sign the Agreement without the nod from India. In the end, China will keep exercising jurisdiction over Doklam Plateau and Bhutan always at merciful generosity of India.  

11. India is worried about the security of her so called chicken neck of the Siliguri corridor and thereby, the Eastern Frontier States.  Maybe that was the reason of takeover of Sikkim. In the same manner, China is worried about the future security of her narrow Chumbi Valley stretch and thereby the whole of Tibet. China seems to considers Doklam Plateau as vital to her as Sikkim is to India. Even then China was willingly to share a part of Doklam Plateau with Bhutan so as to enable an amicable settlement. I feel we have to face the reality. China may not wait forever for Bhutan to get Indian clearance. Chinese security concerns would out weigh any ties including with Bhutan.
 
12. Presently the international boundary in eastern Bhutan has not been demarcated even with India . The sticking point is that Arunachal Pradesh is on the other side. And China claims part of Arunachal. So later, like Doklam, there is bound to be similar Tri- Juction situation. And there, too, China would not be compromising her national security for friendship with Bhutan. So considering all aspects, it may be also in India's interest to let Bhutan sign the Sino-Bhutan Border Agreement. The gesture could contribute towards reaching reasonable agreement towards drawing the Sino- India Arunachal border demarcation. Confidence building is a must in negotiation. 

13.  China will not budge in Sino - Bhutan Border negotiation where Bhutan is deemed to act as a proxy for Indian strategic interests. At times during Sino - Bhutan Border Talks, China may have been suspicious of India directing the negotiations from Bhutan side. And this time with India openly declaring that she had interferred on behalf of Bhutan at Doklam confirms that all along Bhutan has been actually acting as a proxy for Indian Doklam interest. This will harden Chinese resolve. 

14. The Bhutanese Army at Doklam would not  approach the Indian Army stationed on the Sikkim side in regards to any issue with China. Bhutan is well aware that directly involving India is an act of surrendering sovereignty to another nation. It took many years and much diplomatic and political maneuvering to convince India to let Bhutan negotiate directly with China. Bhutanese leaders must demonstrate more courageous wisdom and resolve if Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement  is to be successfully signed.

Response to The Bhutanese.

Tenzing Lamsang the Editor of The Bhutanese,  in his lengthy article claimed that Bhutanese Army tried unsuccessfully to stop the road construction by the Chinese Party and then Indian Army got involved in stopping the construction. I really doubt that Indian Army can ever stop China from doing anything on the land that she claims as her own. Tenzing Lamsang may or may not care of the implication of what he related or claimed. But for sure he does not seem to recognise or acknowledge  how much Bhutan wants to keep Sino- Bhutan Border Talks a sovereign affair of Bhutan.

Tenzing Lamsang may have been just a student studying in a Tibetan School in New Delhi when major incursion by China happened into Bhutan ( northern boundary of Haa Dzongkhag with China Tibet ).  Understandably, Tibetan Schools in India would not have any good things to teach about China. They may even target Bhutan for the troubles Bhutan had with Tibetans in early 1970s. Any way whether Tenzing Lamsang was born or already a studenr, when that Chinese incursion took place, IMTRAT was very much there in Haa. And yet, Bhutan did not seek Indian Army help. 

The King of Bhutan did not turn to Indian Army stationed in Haa Wangchuk LoDzong  to confront the Chinese force. In fact, I believe the IMTRAT in Haa was in disarray probably packing up to leave Bhutan when the Chinese incursion happened. His Majesty commanded a Captain of Royal Bhutan Army to lead an unarmed small RBA force to march up to the extreme northern border of Haa with Tibet. A symbolic act to maintain the integrity of Bhutanese land. And this Captain accomplished the Command of his Supreme Commander. That was how a crisis was averted. Today that Captain is the Chief of Operations of Royal Bhutan Army. As a novice junior RBA Officer, he and his soldiers faced the Chinese troops and paved their way to the border. Now as a General, he can never direct his soldiers at the outpost at Doklam to seek Indian Army help. Not way. Not at all. 

So Tenzing Lamsang, my views are not based on  " desktop musing "   as inferred by you ( my response in your fb post has been deleted by you but it's OK. I have my blog as you have your Newspaper. So I have answered your article in full here ).

I know for a fact that Bhutanese soldiers at Border out -posts take their responsibility sincerely and courageously and independent of Indian Army.  It is an insult to RBA and the nation  to even insinuate that Bhutanese officers and soldiers, on their own,  cannot deal with Chinese forces at the border. I had, therefore, objected to Tenzing Lamsang's  narration to the Bhutanese public the foreign propaganda materials that glorifies Indian Army at the expense of Royal Bhutan Army. RBA may be trained and funded by India but our Defence Force has independant Bhutanese national heart and responsibility. RBA has always fulfilled the task of securing Bhutanese Borders and cleansing the nation of any intruders including from India.  

Conclusion:

Royal Bhutan Army outposts at the Sino- Bhutan border are there to carry out their defence tasks. Our officers and soldiers are not posted there to warm the chilly mountain air with their breath. They do not run to Indian Army to seek help to execute their own national defence task. Numerous Sino- Bhutan incidents have taken place in the past. And in all those incidents,  the Royal Bhutan Army, the Chief of Operations or the Supreme Commander has never sought help of Indian Army to face Chinese troops at the Sino- Bhutan Border. Now if China invades Bhutan, probably His Majesty may seek Indian help. Likewise if India invades Bhutan, His Majesty may seek Chinese assistance. Maybe both will come without even inviting. Until then, Bhutan will deal with what are deemed to be containable conflicts on its own whether in the South or in the north.

For general readers. I have one point of clarification. It is true that within Bhutan,  there are Indian military presences as declared by India.  And yes, Bhutanese Army is trained by India and even funded by India. But all this is not for defence of Bhutan. It is for the security of India. In the defence strategy plan  of India against China, India counts on Bhutan's ability to secure her international borders with China. So Indian military is in Bhutan for defence of India. And likewise Indian Army's recent action at Doklam Plateau has nothing to do with Bhutanese national interest or with Bhutanese Security Force at Doklam.

The demarche issued on 20th June by Bhutan Embassy in New Delhi to Chinese Embassy is a normal happening. Both China and Bhutan follow this diplomatic procedure to air any misgivings or clear any misunderstandings at the borders. The soldiers of China and Bhutan do not engage in unruly jostling or play kapadi kind of pushing and catching game at the Sino- Bhutan border. It must also be noted that the Bhutanese Government referred to road being built in "disputed area". Not " inside undisputed "  Bhutanese territory. It said " maintain status quo" which is different from allegation of encroachment into Bhutanese Security  Force  manned Bhutanese territory.  

The Press Release by Bhutanese Foreign Ministry on 29th June is out of norm. A kind of political " cry Wolf ".  Bhutan usually acts quietly with dignity. Who was Bhutan appealing to in the Press Release with all the history ? If it was China whom we were addressing then there was no need of history as they are party to all the history. This unusual propaganda type of Press Release may have been issued at Indian request to consolidate their weak stand in the international arena. Unfortunately, in so doing, the Bhutanese Government may have further complicated a complex issue. Maybe we need to prayer harder and sincerely for the guidance of Pelden Drukpa.

May Tsawa Soum be in continuous good health. Pelden Drukpa Gyel Lo!    
  

Saturday, July 1, 2017

No true friend only self interested neighbours at Doklam.

Bhutanese Citizens must not get excited with the overblown Doklam problem at the Tri-Junction of  Chinese Tibet, Indian Sikkim and Bhutan. There is more politics here than actual action. Bhutanese soldiers at the border are fully capable of protecting our sovereignty without the assistance of any third party. Also Bhutan has never asked any Country including close friend India to fight our border  battle.

Regarding Sino - Bhutan Border, both nations have been holding talks to arrive at acceptable solutions. The  progress of such talks hinges on confidence building measures not just historical tales and documents if any. The moment India steps in or claims to help Bhutan in the  Sino Bhutan Boundary issues,  China becomes suspicious and attitude changes.

Indian Media also keeps changing their reports.  Until Bhutanese Foreign Ministry issued a press statement, they said the encroachment was related to Bhutan. Now they are saying the problem is at Sikkim China border. 

Also it is impossible for Indian soldiers to come to the aid of Bhutanese soldiers at Doklam. Our soldiers would resist any such offer.  Bhutanese solders cannot ask help from Indian soldiers to deal with Chinese soldiers. Likewise Bhutanese soldiers cannot ask help from Chinese soldiers to deal with Indian soldiers. Bhutanese officers are well aware of the implications of such stupidity.

The reasons why the successive Kings of Bhutan had Bhutanese soldiers guarding the international  borders of the Kingdom is that we do not trust both  China and India to protect our international border. If we ever be so stupid to ask their help, their soldiers will enter but never leave Bhutan.

The King of Bhutan led his own Bhutanese soldiers during the war in South Bhutan against Indian militant groups. His Majesty did not ask China or India to help. It would have been a lost cause if the King hid behind soldiers of other nations. Thus His Majesty led from the front his own soldiers.

Bhutanese citizens and democratic leaders must keep in mind that the day Bhutan relies on India or China to fight our battle, we betray our sovereignty. And please keep away from political charade that China and India engages in at the Tri- Junction Doklam. Do not be dragged into the dangerous net of India and China conflict. They will swallow Bhutan first and then continue their  disputes for ages to come.  

And stop believing that India is defending Bhutanese international boundary interests against China at Doklam. Does any genuine Bhutanese citizen or leader believe that during demarcation of India and Bhutan international  borders, the Indian Government or her Army would have been looking out for Bhutanese interests ?  Only Bhutan can truly stand for Bhutanese interests especially in matters of our international borders. Pelden Drukpa Gyel Lo !