Friday, August 18, 2017

The Kuensel Editor fires off a wrong shot. That too about the Constitution.

On the subject of Kuensel editorial ( today the 18th August )  on Fiscal Incentives and questioning constitutionality of the Cabinet request to the Speaker. Perhaps Kuensel has shot itself in the foot this time. A pity after the much appreciated last two prior editorials on " Table tours "

Looks like a " table editorial " meaning a piece devoid of the slightest effort to examine the context and procedures for approaching His Majesty the King  for exercise of Royal Pre- rogative in commanding Supreme Court's review /opinion on constitutional matters.

The editorial maintains that the Cabinet overlooked ( meaning  breached ) the Constitution in making this request to quote  "  the Speaker to consider seeking the Supreme Court's interpretation on Fiscal Incentives granted before May 8." Unquote.

This allegation against the Cabinet is way off the mark. Seeking interpretation of Supreme Court on matter of Fiscal Incentives is a legistive issue.Therefore such a request has to be routed through  the Parliament. The Government cannot directly approach His Majesty the King on legislative matters. Thus the Cabinet request to the Speaker for consideration.

The Cabinet request in no way breaches  the Royal Pre- rogatives incorporated in  the Constitution. If the Speaker deems the Cabinet request worthy of action then he will follow the due Parliamentary established procedure  for approaching His Majesty the King in seeking Supreme Court opinion on the Fiscal Incentives granted prior May 8.  

Many Bhutanese individual and Agencies have been quick on harping about Constitutionalities of many things. And Kuensel jumps into the same fervour blindfolded. Most unfortunate. Constitution is sacred.  Not a tool for expression of everyday grievances. 

I wrote 3 articles on Fiscal Incentives controversies in my blog on 24th June, 27th June and finally on 6th July.  After having heard both the PM and OL live on BBS, I pointed out that the landmark Supreme Court Judgement has to be re- visited again because in so far as I recall that judgement did not take away the authority of the Government to grant Fiscal Incentives.

The Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay maintained that Government had the authority till Parliament endorsed Fiscal Incentives as Money Bill. The Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho maintained that Government had the authority ( meaning DPT Cabinet ) till the day  the Supreme Court Judgement was  passed on the 1st Constitutional Court Case " Opposition versus the Government " on taxation procedure.

The present Cabinet's request to the Speaker for Supreme Court's interpretation is similar to my stand that the landmark judgement needs to be revisited to resolve the difference in the proper understanding of the judgement by both the PDP and DPT Parties. Two completely different  interpretation of a landmark judgement is uncommon if not down right rediculous.  This was dealt exhaustively in my article of 6th July, 2017 under the title , " The Fiscal. Incentives the flashing constitutional controversy in Bhutanese Politics."

It is difficult to write 6 editorials a week and I respect the dilemmas between temptations of  controversies and substantive subjects. An Editor of Kuensel unlike other Papers we have in Bhutan, has to pass a different standard that can only come with much collective  experiences on the editorial desk. That's why I miss Mr. Phuntsho Wangdi the very hard working former Kuensel Editor the  quiet unassuming person that he was in personality and a giant that he represented in the field of editorials. He is a man whom any editor could get coaching from.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Paro Airport Parking Fee. Starting a debate. Join in please.

Few facts to lay the ground clear.

1. It is not levied by Druk Air or Tashi Air.
2. It would be levied by Air Port Management under Civil Aviation Authority of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
3. The parking fee seems to have been introduced mainly to generate revenue not
to decongest limitted parking space. The fee is very high compared to Bhutanese minimum daily wage. Therefore lacks rationality.
4. Also the Nu:100 is collected almost like an entry fee. Not a minute is given free for passenger to get out of the vehicle with the luggage in case of drop off. That automatically hikes up taxi fares.

Question. 

1. Now should airline passengers have the right to be picked up and drop off services  at Paro Airport free of being financially burdened further with parking fee for vehicle that  provide this indispensable service ?

Answer:

It all depends on why passengers have to pay airport tax? This tax is incorporated in the airfare when the ticket is bought and the same would be deposited by the Airlines with the Civil Aviation Authority.  That tax should cover the use of parking space for reasonable period and purpose.

In my opinion, pick up and drop off at airport should be free of parking fee for the 1st 15 minutes. Or else the parking fee has to be reduced to Nu: 25 for first 30 minutes whichever is convenient to implement.

Question.

2. What about  the free parking area provided some distance away? Does not that take care of the those who cannot afford to pay the exorbitant parking fee of Nu: 100 as soon as you enter the area and then keeps escalating after first 15 minutes?

Answer.

Agree that it is very thoughtful of the Air Port Management to provide free parking space even though some distance away. However, the Management has structured the facility in a way to discourage usage.

According to those using the free space:

a) there is no trolley to transport the luggages. Trolleys are available only at paid parking area.

b) The free parking area is cut off from any information regarding flights.  You are kept in the dark about flight delays or arrivals.

3. There is no restroom facility ( even pay toilet) which is essential.

So it is not just the distance but the overall customer unfriendliness that is designed to discoursge usage but meets the namesake " free parking space " publicity. 

Question.

3. Airlines pay fees for use of Airport facilities. There are many others including restaurants who rent spaces at airport to provide services related to passengers.   Does not these direct and indirect incomes plus airport tax on passengers themselves add up to providing the basic need of free parking facility for pick up and drop services for the passengers for at  least 3O minutes?

Answer.

I feel that 10 minutes for cars and 20  minutes for bus for drop off service and for receiving service 30 minutes for cars and 60 minutes for buses should be free of parking charge. Or the charges should be reasonable at Nu: 25 for cars and Nu:50 for buses for above indicated time period if total free parking is unaffordable for the Authority.

Observations:

It is not just Civil Aviation but almost all Agencies never take into considerations the minimum wage factor when considering fees or fines. Socio- economic concept like minimum wage is wholely ignored or not understood as a basic parameter for monetary impositions.  Somehow Bhutanese regulators are anti social class and very much for creating / reserving amenities only for the elite class usage. There are many poorer groups who may own cars not individually but as a family and that too second or third hands. Such cars also need parking space and they are majority in number.

Regarding parking issues at Paro Airport, the Ministry of Communication and Information  can give an impartial guidance. The honourable Secretary and His Excellency the Minister could easily decide on an appropriate approach. Airport Parking space need not have to be the gold mine of the Civil Aviation Authority.

 

Friday, August 11, 2017

An authoritarian India tends to be overbearing upon her neighbours.

Many wise words were spoken by late Lyonpo Dawa Tsering. His Excellency was the Foreign Minister of Bhutan for nearly three decades. A learned leader who encompassed qualities of much  intelligence and stately adroitness.  I particularly recall his explanatory submission as Foreign Minister to the honourable members of the National Assembly of Bhutan who were perplexed and frustrated by many unfriendly acts of the Government of India under Emergency Rule (1975 to 1977). His Excellency said that when an authoritarian Government is in power, that nation also tends to adopt an overbearing attitude towards the weaker neighbours. Bhutan must exercise political skill and fortitude. How so very true! May His Excellency rest in Peace.

Fortunately, by the infinite Grace of our Deities, the leadership our Great 4th King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and wise counsels, Bhutan warded off the fate that befell upon Sikkim just before Emergency rule in India.  It was closer than a dangerous state of affairs. I think His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk had an apt description of that state in the 1970s  during the public constitutional consultations in 2007. The King put it as , " like a leaf tossing on a swollen river ". His Majesty who was not born then, must have learned of the crisis of the 1970s from his illustrious father.

India is once again ready to flex her national muscle in the region. And each time that happens, the testing guinea pig is Bhutan. This is what happened at Doklam.The NDA Government headed by BJP is at its zenith of power in India. The Indian Prime Minister His Excellency Narendra Modi is sweeping the whole of India under his charismatic personality backed by the Merlin type of political wizard Shri Amit Shah. The combination of the two is recording astonishing  political history in India. To the historians later, it might be a period of dusk black or dust gold.

This time India decided Doklam as a pretext to declare Bhutan a "Protectorate state"  and attempted to establish complete hegemony over our Kingdom.  China was not the ultimate objective of Indian military adventurism at Doklam. It was Bhutan. Fortunately, China stood firmly against Bhutan being converted into solely an Indian buffer cushion and protectorate state.  Thus when so definitely and decisively  confronted by China, India had to decide to withdraw and await perhaps another favourable day to overwhelm Bhutan.

In public domain,  Bhutan stood stoically silent this time. The behind the scene had to be rather frenzy. Our Kings ( both the Majestic Son and the Father ) had to be  engaged in some feverish survival diplomacy whilst our Monastic institutions were in deep Prayers. The two Royal and Spiritual  Institutions together are responsible for peace, happiness and security of Bhutan and her people. The democratic Government main task  is to implement successfully the 5 year development plans and ensure economic prosperity and fair governance.

The Indian Army withdrawl has be done in an acceptable public drama so as to freeze verbal attacks by the Oppositions in the Indian Parliament.  So Indian Army  plans to withdraw on the basis of Bhutan Army taking over their role. But on the ground, it is not possible for Bhutan Army to replace transgressing Indian troops on Chinese controlled Doklam.  Further, to even theoretically agree, is placing Bhutanese sovereignty in grave future danger. As that will make it appear that India secured an area at Doklam for Bhutan. An act of what India claims protecting Bhutanese territory from China.

My humble advice to India is to withdraw and acclaim publicly that Bhutanese Army is taking over the role. And Bhutan continue her public silence. China would be happy with the retreat. And no one is going to be wiser at the  ground level. Remote Doklam is away from prying eyes. It is two days hard trek through mountain ravines from the motorable road point on Bhutan side. In hindsight, if only China so generously continued the road extension into our land  for our use. 

The true political picture is that  Bhutanese land is not needed to be protected by a third power and India winds up her adventurism of the century. This time, Bhutan retains her status quo of a sovereign Kingdom. May the people of Bhutan, China and India be blessed with compassionate and sensible leaders though not necessarily in alphabetical order as I try to maintain fairness.   

Many years after Emergency Rule in India, when Her Excellency Indra Gandhi was shot down by her security guard, an Indian Army General was supposed to have exclaimed, " how bloody lucky for Bhutan ".  So it's possible that such scheming Indian leaders do not give up easily upon clutching Bhutan in their claws. Still I do not wish them the fate of India Indra. But for Bhutan, I pray that the our omniscient powerful Deities keep under the radar of their thunder bolts those who pose danger upon the " Land of Pelden Drukpa."

Pelden Drukpai Lha Gyel Lo !

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Strategy behind India's Doklam transgression: Here is the Ugliness.

On 29th July 2017, an article on Doklam Standoff was published in OneIndia News. The writer Vicky Nanjappa a senior Correspondent quoting " highly placed sources" wrote.  To quote : 

1. " For Bhutan, India guarantees its security through the 2007 Friendship Treaty." 

This statement is a reiteration of the recent Indian Government stand that Bhutan is a " Protectorate state " of India.
Not at all acceptable to Bhutan and far from ground realities.  

2 " Bhutan has allowed access to Indians on its territory."

This statement alludes to the forceful encampment of Indian troops on the Bhutanese side of disputed Doklam Plateau after confrontation with Chinese construction party.

Now one can understand why India claimed first that they " were requested by Bhutan Army"  and later changed to " in coordination with Bhutan Army " and possibly after my blog which rubbished such ludicrous claims, India declared that they were " protecting the security of their so called chicken neck". India has no right of whatsoever to station Indian Army combat troops on Bhutanese side of Doklam or the disputed area.

Actually India's real goal was to engulf  Bhutan because they used the Doklam intrusion to declare:

1. That Bhutan is a " Indian protectorate state ." That's what India said of Sikkim before submerging her.

2. India chose to brandish the 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty wherein it was stated that Bhutan's foreign affairs was to be guided by India. That clause was removed in the 2007 revised 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty. Bhutan opted to conduct her foreign affairs independently and had never sought Indian guidance.  However, this time during Doklam crisis, India refused to recognise Bhutan' s right to her own independent foreign policy. 

3. India made claims about a "security pact" with Bhutan.There is no such pact. Nothing in the knowledge of the Bhutanese Parliament or the people. 

The Royal Bhutan Government or the Royal Bhutan Army whose Supreme Commander is His Majesty the King would never have agreed to India's interference  into the Bhutan- China Border Talks especially by use of military force. Bhutan is a small nation. We have to find peaceful means. Involving Indian Government or Indian Army is the shortest route to national suicide.

Let me relate following historical decisions of the Kings of Bhutan to demonstrate how wary Bhutan had always been of silent takeover by the  powerful neighbourly friend called India. 

1. In 1962 during Sino- India war, the 3rd King of Bhutan granted safe passage to Indian soldiers fleeing Arunachal through Eastern Bhutan to India only after the soldiers surrendered their rifles at Tashigang Dzong. This demonstrates that Bhutan does not welcome armed combat troops even that of India. .   

2. In 2003, India offered combat troops to Bhutan to fight Indian militant groups.  There is already IMTRAT the training wing of Indian Army in Bhutan.They are supposed to be unarmed and therefore, not in the category of regular fighting force.

His Majesty the 4th King was not sure whether his own force could expel the militant groups. After all, the greater numbered militants were also battle hardened and well armed.  But His Majesty was sure of one reality. That was if he accepted combat troops of Indian Army into the Kingdom, that would be the end of sovereign Bhutan. So the King took the less evil option. The offer of Indian Army was declined. And His Majesty decided to lead in person the Royal Bhutan Army to expel the various groups  like ULFA ,  BODO and  KLO Indian militants camped in the thick jungles of Southern Bhutan.

The People and the Government of Bhutan was fearful for the personal safety of the royal being and tried to dissuade the King. But His Majesty's response revealed how deeply he had pondered. The King said, " If I am not there in the field to look after my brave soldiers, the slim chance that we have in defeating the militants is lost. And a defeat in the battle field means the lost of Bhutan. Therefore, the danger to the Bhutanese nation and the throne is more imminent if I stay behind."  Thus began the " Operation All Clear " under His Majesty's personal command.  And all militant groups were successfully cleared out from Bhutan by the Bhutan Army. The defeat of the Indian militant groups by the Bhutanese Army stunned the Indian Army to silent reverence.The feat surpassed all dictates of art of army war- fares.

Considering such super human sacrifices made by the people and Kings of Bhutan, it would be crazy to seek Indian intervention at Doklam. Indian Army had simply bull dozed in  unannounced. An invasion at Doklam happened.

Initially it seemed that Bhutan was duped by Indian action at Doklam. Maybe Bhutan just  meekly succumbed to Indian aggression on the border front and diplomatic arm twisting on the foreign affairs front. Bhutan complained to China and even issued a Press Release that 
were in line with political ploy of India.Thankfully Bhutan, ultimately, recognised betrayal signs and decided to stand her ground. Bhutan refused to condone Indian transgression at Doklam. If she had , next thing Thimphu, Paro and Haa would have been flooded with Indian combat troops and war machinaries on the pretext of enevitability of Chinese invasion. From the day one of transgression at Doklam, vociferous Indians and even few treacherous pro-Indian Bhutanese voices were crying aloud about the danger posed by China from Doklam to the  northern Valleys of Haa, Paro and Thimphu. Doklam is actually part of Samtse Dzongkhag in the South.  Most Bhutanese did not even hear of name of the remote mountsin Plateau till then. And ironically if such evil people had their ways, before China or even most Bhutanese woke up, Bhutan could have been another Sikkim.

Bhutan is weak and small to physically  challenge the might of India.  However, by all international standard, Bhutan should have cried " foul" against India for the transgression into Bhutanese controlled Doklam territory by armed troops of India.

This is the reason why China has been  demanding that Indian Army withdraw from the present positions or there will be an all out war. China had declared in no uncertain term that this transgression was very different in nature and intent from all other China- India border skirmishes. India was defying China from a third country territory. Therefore, China is threatening to attack wherever Indian Army is. Which means all of Indian land, sea and even Bhutan the unwilling host of Indian Army at the Tri Junction. I feel that any nation not just China, has the sovereign and moral rights  to take firm and effective retaliatory action against such treacherous conduct. 

But even in her deep humiliating state of silent distress and perhaps in dismayed betrayal confusion, Bhutan found the political sanity not to cower down to the level of condoning Indian transgression into Bhutan as well as into the Chinese Doklam. And that stumped the Indian touted position " protecting Bhutan from China "  that India tried hard selling to the international community. India is not protecting Bhutan. India is trying to engulf Bhutan on premeditated pretext.  

I had earlier said that Doklam incident may be the working of our Deities. And strangely it might turn out to be  just that. India did not bargain upon China's determination for an all out war in 5 fronts for this Indian act of treachery at Doklam. India it seems was planning for a limitted war.  However, to the Chinese, a limitted war restricted to Doklam only, would in any case sabotage the Chinese goal of One Belt Road Initiative and further compromise the buffer status of Bhutan in India's favour. If a war must happen with India, it made more sense for China to have a full scale war at all 5 fronts ( Bhutan-Sikkim, Arunachal, Kashmir, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal).  That would be a decisive war worth risking.

It seems that both America and Japan have no appetite for such a large scale war stretching from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. During the recent Malabar naval and air war exercises conducted concurrently with Doklam crisis by America, India and Japan, China sent 13 war ships plus submarines to convey a definitive message to the tiresome three. In addition the new aircraft carrier of China was docked at Hong Kong to get Japanese attention. Personally, I hope Japan had nothing to do, even remotely, with Doklam venture. Bhutan and Japan enjoy the highest of regards between people and the Royal Houses.

A short limitted war between India and China suited Western armament industries and American policy of containing China. Or at the least distracting China from One Belt Road Initiative and South China Sea.  But an all out global war where even Russia could get involved was a No No. Thus it appears that India left on her own, has been forced to capitulate after the sneaky transgression.

India had quietly amassed huge forces at Sikkim and Siliguri Chicken neck in preparation for a limitted war at Doklam to quote an Indian writer, " to give a bloody nose to China " who was caught off guard at Doklam. India wanted to establish full and complete hegemony over  Bhutan through a short brief war at Doklam.  Not a full scale five front war.  
 
The same correspondent Vicky Nanjappa also revealed how India was now going about to resolve the Standoff at Doklam. To quote him :

" It is a complex situation and India at best would withdraw troops on the pre-condition that it is replaced by the forces from Bhutan."  Similar political view has been again repeated in The Indian Express by Sushant Singh on 4th August ( today) .

What this means is that the Indian Security Advisor Ajit Doval had conveyed to Beijing the willingness of Indian Army to withdraw from Bhutan and China Doklam. 

Nanjappa's above statement is couched in diplomatic face saving graceful language.
China would never accept Bhutanese Army in place of Indian Army in the Chinese controlled Doklam territory. So it had to be a reference to Indian Army vacating Bhutan controlled Doklam territory which would subsequently leave only Bhutanese patrolling contigent behind. Naturally that would suit Bhutan. 

But simple withdrawl from Doklam would not have appeased the most infuriated Chinese PLA. So the offer had to be accompanied by the  commitment not to interfere into the Sino- Bhutan Border Talks as well as never again encroach into Chinese controlled Doklam or attempt to station Indian combat troops on Bhutanese territory at the Tri- Junction or other Sino- Bhutan Borders. Some hints are already reflected in The Indian Express article today.

I just hope and pray that Bhutan signs the Border Agreement with China and establish diplomatic relation, too. That would be a fitting Majestic response from Bhutan to the blatant Indian arrogance and aggression.  I do not care for China but for Bhutan such an Agreement would elevate Bhutan amongst the international community. And Bhutan will never be so readily trampled over and alleged to be a " Protectorate State" under India.

India twisted the friendship language of  the 2007 Treaty that distanced Bhutan from India to that of further subjugation and proclaimed Bhutan as her " Protectorate state". Such stands have wounded both Bhutanese national status and caused lasting damage to the golden Throne. In one single stroke, India callously blackened the legacy of the 4th King who got the 1949 Indo-Bhutan Treaty  revised in 2007 and the reigning King who signed the Treaty. In doing so, India explicitly implied that the Kings of Bhutan are her surrogates reigning Bhutan under the Indian guarantees. Not as sovereign Kings of a sovereign Kingdom.

The established historical fact is that Wangchuck Dynasty of Bhutan was established in 1907 exactly 40 years before India even got her independence from the British Raj. Now Bhutan has to find a dignified way to stand up and regain lost honour. No need to ask IMTRAT AND DANTAK to leave. We hold genuine friendship for Indian people and real  appreations for economic aids and transit passages.  Let's simply elevate Bhutan to equal neighbourly status and realistic friendship terms with both India and China. Time and events are calling upon Bhutanese leadership to act with courage and speed. Bhutan needs to sign the Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement and open embassies with China. All can then rest easier with recovered dignity.

Pelden Drukpa! Gyel Lo!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The status of Doklam and other disputed areas on the Sino- Bhutan Border.

There is Doklam Tri-Junction in South Western Sino-  Bhutan Border.  Then there is at North- Western Sino- Bhutan Border places like Sha-kha-Toe, Drama-na, Singchu-Lum etc. and at North-Central Sino- Bhutan Border Passa-Lum. 

In the last several weeks since the Doklam Transgression, few Indian media print houses and political analysts, some even quoting Bhutanese sources,  have been propagating a deliberately fabricated narrative about Doklam.

The fabricated  narrative states that at one time, China had offered a large area concession at disputed North-Central Sino- Bhutan Border in exchange for smaller area concession by Bhutan at Doklam. This is a blatant lie. It is a  propaganda material developed among China and Bhutan haters. 

I presume that this fabricated narrative is propagated with the intent to cast doubts on China's claim at Doklam and at the same time to support India's false claim that Indian Army was protecting Bhutanese interest. For true Bhutanese hearts, the decision of the Indian Army to transgress into the Sino- Bhutan Doklam territory was far more alarming and a deliberate act of under-mining Bhutanese sovereignty.    

I am not that worried about the road repair or extension by China though big and powerful that she is.  Afterall, both nations are engaged in reaching a concensus on differing claims through numerous rounds of cordially held Talks.  That's what negotiations are all about. And if final demarcation puts the road area under Bhutan then we have a ready road for use. If not then it is Chinese road.  

But definitely, Bhutan does not have to accept India's derogatory attitudes like their rediculous claim that " Bhutan Army asked Indian Army help " and the Indian boastful  proclamation of Bhutan being " Protectorate state "  and thereby  insinuating that Bhutanese King is reigning under Indian wing of protection. All directed to humiliate and shred away  Bhutanese sovereignty as part of the Indian strategy of Doklam transgression.      

For the record, the talk of " land swap " during early Sino- Bhutan Talks ( 1989-1992 ) was related to China offering the much larger  disputed area at North-Central Sino-Bhutan Border for the  smaller disputed area at North-Western Sino- Bhutan Border. Many senior Bhutanese people especially former National Assembly Representatives may recall place names like Shakha Toe, Drama-na and Singchu- Lum at  North-Western Sino - Bhutan Border ( north of Haa Dzongkhag ) and Passa-Lum at North- Central Sino- Bhutan Border (northern of  Bumthang Dzongkhag).

Based on geographical water shed features and naturally the closeness to strategic Chumbi Valley, China was prepared to accept the smaller disputed area at North- Western Sino- Bhutan Border region and have Bhutan take the doubly larger disputed area at the North-Central Sino- Bhutan Border region. However, Bhutan preferred her share of each disputed region.This was not opposed by China and accordingly negotiation have been progressing smoothly.

Actually, I was most relieved with that decision of the Royal Government. As a Bhutanese, I guess larger chunk of land is more preferable but as a Haap, my sentiment is deep for the smaller chunk. As a child, I remember my soldier Dad telling us that the real un- negotiable enemy at the border post at Singchu-Lum was the freezing icy wind not the Chinese soldiers. I have not been there but Singchu-Lum is part of my growing up unforgettable memory. I am willing to fire a bullet or take a bullet for my memory.

For Bhutan, strategic value is same and grazing pasture land which is our main concern for our yak herders, would be achieved if we went for the " land  swap". But yak herders of Haa would lose out to yak herders of Bumthang. However, I guess for our supposed friend India, any land near Chumbi Valley is very strategic. I do not know whether Bhutan based her final decision on Indian security interest or the interest of Yak herders of Haa. I would like to think that the welfare of Haaps mattered.

Traditionally the Kings of Bhutan always paid extra attention to the welfare of the people living at high altitude Valleys like Haa, Gasa and Bumthang known as Laa-Gang-Sum. Those days even special concessions were built into the tax structure of the nation to favour such Dzongkhags. 

Doklam Tri-Junction was not even part of the Sino-Bhutan Border Talks when the " land swap" was out on the table. Bhutanese must differentiate facts from fallacies. Let others with dubious intentions play with imaginations and falsehoods.  

I am of the opinion that even at Doklam,  after the 24th round of Talks, concensus had been reached between Bhutan and China. We common citizens have duties to voice valid concerns. And as always, place our faith in the Government and especially our People's King His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck to protect our hereditary land along with the concerns of the people. Bhutan's priority would be " to protect and preserve " hereditary land. Not engage in meddling or shaping security interests of China or India. 

As always we must pray that the Triple Gem Bless our Kingdom and the national Leadership especially our King at the helm with good health and great wisdom and fortitude.  Pelden Drukpa Lha Gyel Lo !

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Negotiating from the position of strength.

American offical policy towards North Korea: 

"Axis of Evil " declared President Bush. 

"We are not your enemy" confirms Tillerson Secretary of State.

What caused the change in American policy towards North Korea ? The answer is ICBM. It is always better to negotiate from the position of strength. That was American maxim which North Korea adopted to the hilt.

After the second ICBM tests, America tells North Korea. To quote:

"We do not seek regime change. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,"

"We are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond," Tillerson said, speaking to North Korea directly. "We would like to sit and have a dialogue about the future."

May the Pacific Rim realise the dawn of permanent peace.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

To all within and outside Bhutan and India the truth of Bhutan- India Relation Status.

It  all began with Indian Prime Minister His Excellency  Pandit Jawaharlal  Nehru's arduous journey to  Bhutan in 1958.  I often wondered why a 68 year old PM of India had to trek on foot, on horse back and ride Yaks to come to meet the King of Bhutan. The King of Bhutan much younger in age 29 years and mountain fit physically could have travelled to New Delhi.

Then much later I came across a book by an Indian author who travelled with Nehru's party. In his book, he related that Nehru was surprised that the King of Bhutan accepted so little of what Nehru had to offer. It seems that the Dragon King was not that enthusiastic about opening up to India. No wonder the King did not choose to visit New Delhi. He was quite comfortable with the way things were both socially and politically within his Kingdom. The King had come upon the Throne in 1952. And immediately had shifted the Capital to Thimphu. Then constituted the  National Assembly to give voice to his people in the administration of the Nation. He also did away with the heavy taxes both material and labour. The King had already mapped out his reign.  He did not fear China or India.  But Prime Minister of India felt that he had to meet the King because the Kingdom of Bhutan was the vital  buffer state between China and India. And India needed the goodwill and friendship of Bhutan. 

In 1956, both His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama of Tibet visited India to celebrate the 2500 years Buddha Jayanti. It was outwardly a religious visit but may have been a planned political visit though not that well  planned. (  I say " not so well planned " because it was during this visit that His Holiness the Panchen Lama lost faith in the Indian Government due to protocol insult ).  Between 1956 and 1958, development in Tibet did not go in the way India and her Western Allies had envisioned. And Prime Minister Nehru may have realised that with Tibet gone, India had to have Bhutan on Indian side or else whole of North Eastern States would fall into Chinese hand. 

It seems Nehru's trek to Bhutan had two purpose. One was that the King of Bhutan was not prepared to travel to New Delhi. So Nehru had to trek to Bhutan.

His Majesty the King of Bhutan was too shrewed a politician to take the Indian bait. The King was not going to publicly take sides in a regional tussle between China and India by going to Delhi. His Majesty may not have felt any urgency to seek Indian friendship or goodwill let alone  ( now much hyped ) protection as Indian of all shameful brand want the world to believe.

And the second purpose may have been to study the geographical layout of  Sino- Bhutan Border. ( The Indian PM was accorded a Chinese reception after crossing Nathu La probably in the vicinity of Doklam ).  Also Nehru would have wanted to study the strength and base of the Dragon King who refused invitation to New Delhi and who had nothing to discuss with Indian political emissaries including the Indian Political Officer in Sikkim.

There is an incredible scene documented by Indian documentary team.  One is of the King of Bhutan substituting his Bhutanese translator assigned to translate Nehru's speech to the Bhutanese public at Paro Ugyen Pelri Palace ground. The raised traditional  podium for Nehru's address to the Bhutanese nation is still preserved in its original form. His solemn commitment though has vanished with the wind. His Majesty had very good command of the Hindi language. In fact during his visit to India,  he addressed the Indian nation over All India Radio in Hindi to the astonishment of Indian heavy weights. 

Another scene that really got my adoring attention was the King hitting the target with both his arrows as PM Nehru watched on at the archery ground. Bhutanese believe that such domineering display of skill at such an occassion  demonstrated the dragon spirit of the Druk Gyalpo. The King was superbly confident and it seems Shri Pandit Nehru got the silent message. The Indian PM took pains to assure Bhutan that India was seeking friendship with an equally sovereign Bhutan. Size did not matter. I invite Indian political hawks to re- read the speech of their Prime Minister to the Bhutanese nation.

His Majesty died in 1972. Till then though the 1949 Treaty was not revised, the ground reality demonstrated that Bhutan only considered India an equal friend who sought Bhutanese friendship and goodwill  to secure her north-eastern states. Bhutan herself never seriously feared any Chinese invasion. Chinese troops did not follow the Tibetan refugees into Bhutan in 1959. And in 1962 again the Chinese troops at Arunachal did not violate the Bhutanese sovereign land at her Eastern border.

Diplomatic relation was established between India and Bhutan. The embassies were named Mission to illustrate close friendly ties. Not because of uneven relation between the strong and the weak.  It was in line with the nomenclature of  High Commission instead of Embassy nonemclature between former colonies of British Empire to illustrate closeness.  The Head of Missions in New Delhi and Thimphu were named  Represententatives with Plenipotentiary powers similar to High Commissioners and Ambassadors. Yet after His Majesty passed away, India started down grading the status of the Mission. And it took much effort on part of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuk to change the Mission  to Embassy nonemclature to silence any further Indian political maneuvering. 

Today during Doklam crisis, Indian Agencies, Media and Analysts so freely declare that Bhutan is a " Protectorate of India". And this is happening in the reign of the Fifth King. India is repeating history to test the Dragon King on the Throne.

They have refused to acknowledge the status of 2007 revised 1949 Indo-Bhutan Treaty that reflected ground realities and the  demands of modern  political relationship between two nation states. The 2007 revision of 1949 Indo - Bhutan Treaty was hammered out between His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and His Excellency Prime Minister ManMohan Singh.  Indians now  claim that  the old clause of India managing external affairs of Bhutan still applies though the same was done away with in the revised Treaty.  I wonder what is the actual take of the two honourable Signatories of  the revised 2007 Treaty? The two Signatories were the the King of Bhutan His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck the Fifth King of Bhutan and His Excellency President Pranab Mukerjee of India in their official capacities as the Crown Prince of Bhutan  and Minister of External Affairs of India in 2007. The two eminent negotiators are still in good health and very much present in the political scenes of Bhutan and India.

How did Nehru's trek of 1958 solicitating the good will and friendship of Bhutan for the sole purpose of protecting the security of North Eastern Plains of India  change into that of the  Kingdom of Bhutan seeking protection and economic assistance from India? Who are responsible for such distortion of Bhutan- India Relationship? Why does Bhutan accept such distortion of historical events ?

The ongoing silence of Bhutanese leadership is not necessarily a cause for Bhutanese public to be anxious . But I hope we as a nation is gathering the courage to sign the Border Agreement with China and establish long awaited diplomatic relationship. Not that we do not value friendship with India. Not that we need the goodwill and protection of China. But to remove once and for all times this stigma of being called and treated by India as a " Protectorate State ". It is an insult to the Tsawa Sum ( The King, the Bhutanese nation and the Bhutanese People )  to be so off handedly humiliated to protectorate status.

India has slashed  the hand of friendship that His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck extended  to His Excellency Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when he treked to Bhutan solicitating friendship and goodwill in 1958. As Defence Minister of India Shri Arun Jaitley  said, India is no longer the old India.  In her new found wealth and power, India forgot Bhutan of 1958 who befriended a desperate needy India.  

I have heard few Bhutanese people wondering about whether  Bhutanese national  Democratic leadership and Political Parties are ready to stand up to this onslaught upon Bhutanese sovereignty or simply are readying to ask for more Indian money to fill their personal coffers.  I have no idea what is going on in the silence of political darkness.  However, the Constitution has entrusted the security of the nation and the welfare of the citizens to one Institution- The King of Bhutan. So I guess all are awaiting in respectful silence.

I feel that India should not interpret this silence and lull in the Bhutanese polity as a sign of meekness. Sure Bhutan would hesitate a great deal because we had genuine friendship for  India. But no friendship warrants self suicide. The King of Bhutan owes it to the Throne, to the forefathers and to the solemn oath to protect and serve the Kingdom and her people to stand up to such blatant political aggression.  Accepting  " protectorate status quo " is only for people like late Kazi Lhendup Dorji of Sikkim. And he lived in hell whilst on this earth for his betrayal of the Kingdom of Sikkim.

Pelden Drukpa ! Lha Gyel Lo! May Triple Gem Bless our great King with the gift of good health, indomitable spirit and ocean of wisdom.

  

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.