Thursday, March 31, 2016

Analysing Political wind of PDP ( People's Democratic Party ) the governing Party of Bhutan.

It is said that media is an important ingredient of Democracy. However, in Bhutan media simply relays news. Of course one cannot discount the value and importance of News that are disseminated by the main stream media like Kuensel and BBS TV. As a citizen and also a blogger, I am grateful for the updates.

However, there is a total lack of analysis of events and News.  In other words the media psychology has not undergone the necessary changes to meet democratic challenges and responsibilities. And it cannot be simply the fear of authority that is stopping media from looking deeper into issues. The constraint may not even be the lack of information although that is often the given reasons.  People love to talk though they dislike being quoted. Moreover, analysis do not need sources because these can be based on available facts and past events and incidences.

As main stream media chooses to remain dormant, let me start a social media discussion/analysis exercise. One need not use original name but please be more substantive than just fiery defendant or attacker. If done under one's honest name, usually the views are more substantive, intelligent and less aggressive, accusatory in tone. I look forward to healthy and substantive analysis of events, from knowledgeable citizens and interested individuals.

The subject is recent cabinet reshuffle in the PDP government. Lyonpos Mingbo Dukpa is out, Norbu Wangchuk is transferred and MP Lekey Dorji is said to be in as Minister of Economic Affairs.

I believe that anyone who becomes a Minister especially in Bhutan had it partly written in his/ her good fortune from birth. Here Cabinet or MP seat is not bought outright with huge contributions to Party coffer. And I have never questioned a Bhutanese capacity to be a Bhutanese leader. It is my duty as a citizen to respect whoever receives the Dhar.

The former Foreign Minister was replaced since he could not continue functioning due to the  Court case. So a replacement
was expected and understandable. But what is the political significance of Lyonpo Mingbo resigning. Possible that he has personal problems including that of health. But who in the world resigns from a Minister's post for problems of personal nature ? No one ! A Minister has more capacity to even handle better any personal problem than an MP or another influential person.

So why was Lyonpo Mingbo let go and what does it say about personal power of the President of PDP and internal Party power struggle? If Lyonpo Mingbo  committed a gross misdeed and had to leave,  then there is no internal Party difference. It is said that Dasho Lekey Dorji had been promised a cabinet berth and so he would be the most likely choice if another vacancy happened especially after he missed the boat in the previous Cabinet vacancy. 

Lyonpo Mingbo is an original 2008 PDP candidate who stood by the Party during the crucial Primary Election of 2013.  I heard that PDP Party President had faced excruciating  scarcity of both finance and candidate, in qualifying for Primary Election. That he succeeded is most admirable. And I admire His Excrllency for his never say die political stamina.

During General Election the choice of Candidates was plentiful and so must have been financial contributions. One just needed to compromise on Party loyalty and opt for political sense of winning and therefore, dumped some of weak candidates though they had enabled the Party to enter the Primary and qualify for General Election.

I just cannot imagine Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay dumping Lyonpo Mingbo to make way for Dasho Lekey Dorji. Did Lyonpo Mingbo commit a Tsawa Sum perjury or was he hobnobbing with the Opposition or commit a judicial crime? Or had Party backers forced this decision upon the Prime Minister. That leads to one wondering whether the Party President has control over the Party.

It was Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk who spear headed the Cabinet defence  over the scandalous act of suspending three government Secretaries. He stood by the Prime Minister to the extent of even changing events and facts as later revealed by RCSC investigation.  And yet he is the one who is shuffled.

O.K lets agree that Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk is qualified to head Education Ministry and he is publicly happy.  But how come that Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk is suddenly found to be the second best choice for Tengye Lyonpo post at the Ministry of Economic Affairs?

Come on, we cannot believe that he had chosen Education Ministry to continue his battle with Dasho Sonam Tshering's wife who is the Secretary of Education. She would be leaving soon along with other government Secretaries upon completion of tenure. And moreover the larger implication is that he got ousted himself after ousting his Economic Secretary. So the transfer may not necessarily be the
priority choice of the Prime Minister or his colleague Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk.

Thus the turn of political events again makes one wonder if the President of PDP Party and Prime Minister of Bhutan has respectably adequate say in the Party decision of Cabinet composition and portfolio of his Ministers.

It was a PDP representative who was on BBS TV defending the Cabinet merry go round not a member of Cabinet. That too is significantly tale telling. And it was a PDP Party Press Release I believe that announced the Cabinet changes. In other Countries, changes in the Cabinet or any Government decision, it would be announced from the Office of the Prime Minister. Let's see who is on the next chopping list out of the PDP faithfuls to Lyonchoen. Good Luck Your Excellency the Prime Minister.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Question of stability.

Bhutanese democracy is now all about dancing to the tune of Ministers cabinet berth musical chairs. No disrespect to outgoing, incoming or transferee but stability would have been reassuring.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why do some teachers yearn for corporal punishment?

Corporal punishment is not a cure of a student retaliating under marijuana influence when " he was patted several times by the teacher ". Patting conveys/ demonstrates affection that is a cause for  embarrassment. Patting grown up student whether boy or girl by a teacher does not just indicate the understanding character of a teacher.

It was not right and it is definitely not acceptable that a student hit a teacher. But who ever the boy is and whose son he is,  we who know not the teacher or the student personally, should not blindly rush to condemn.

Would the teachers who advocated  for reinstatement of corporal punishment on BBS TV also tell the public what their fellow  teachers who beat the students to deafness, abused  and murdered student and shamed and threatened students to the extent whereby young people have hanged themselves to death,  really  require more corporal  punishment powers.

I do not think majority of teachers feel that they require corporal punishment powers to teach effectively. Doing away with corporal punishment has not dented the ability of good teachers to teach and their students to learn. Just refer to last few years school results. Few Dzongkhag teachers and Dzongkhag institutions have been hounding students in the last few years. Why is this happening ?

Out of several hundred thousand students how many have physically attacked teachers? And out of few thousand teachers how many have abused students? Please dear teacher commentators,  you reveal the the figures in Bhutan. Let us know how much you really care for teacher/student relationship. Give both sides of the coin.

We must admit that in every sphere of fields there are the good and the bad, the gentle and bully. Few bad teachers and few angry or bad students do not represent all teachers and students in Bhutan. Smoking and drugs are problems of young generation. We have to find better ways to deal with these issues.  But physically abusing " corporal punishment " cannot be a solution for such social illness.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Honouring the Voice Of Democracy & Politics.

A live scene on 3rd March, 2016 at JNU Campus. Kanhaiya, Student President of JNU addressing India and Students. This fellow can think on his feet and he can speak. And speak he did at the JNU campus that evening. Upon his release from 23 days at Tihar jail. He came straight from the prison to the Campus.

Modi govt. will not fall immediately for its attack and conspiracy against JNU and using sedition charge as political tool. But like Rahul Gandhi tearing the Ordinance, this JNU high noon drama will surly be the BJP coffin nail in the next General Election.  When Rahul tore the Ordinance, I predicted the downfall of Congress on Kuensel Online.

Strangely on 3rd March, 2016 whilst replying to Rahul and Congress in the Parliament, Modi recalled Rahul tearing the Cabinet Ordinance on 27th Dec, 2013 when Indian PM was holding meeting with American President in Washington. It showed that , "some people physically age but they gain no wisdom " said Prime Minister Modi in the Parliament. However, this cannot be said of the Sudent President of JNU. This fellow is a different brand and he cannot be silenced that easily by Modi or the RSS.

During his speech, Kanhaiya made reference to Modi's reference to Stalin of Russia in the Parliament and he said he wanted to get into the TV and ask Modi to also talk of Hitler. He said JNU was not seeking freedom from India. It was seeking freedom within India. " Want azaadi from hunger, corruption and casteism".  He said PM Modi loved to speak his mind but not listen.

Kanhaiya spoke continuously for over an hour. Speaking under the Union Tri Colour Flag against the Sedition Charges, he declared that he was seeking freedom within India not freedom from India.

There had been intense political pressure to prolong the imprisonment / detention of Kanhaiya at Tihar jail. The Delhi High Court initially delayed his Bail Hearing and then few days later, granted an interim conditional bail not a proper bail to Kanhaiya.

But I do not see the same Court cancelling the interim bail any time too soon. High Courts in India have such tenacious judicial dedication. They might accommodate political nuances for a brief period or for a specific occasion but long term goal is Justice as it should be. Then there is the Supreme Court which exercises fearsome judicial independence.

This unfortunate Delhi High Court ruling on the interim conditional bail for Kanhaiya invited a humiliating comment from a top jurists Fali Nariman who said  on NDTV  " Sad to see airs of compliance travels into judicial corridors."

Khanaiya is still making waves. The BJP Ministry of Home Affairs does not want to rearrest or detain him. I guess the Government learnt its lesson rather fast. Any further acts of persecution will get whole of India not just university students talking of Kanhaiya and not of Modi. Lessons on democracy and politics are aplenty all the time.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Don't ask how cremation is to be done !

For Kagyupas its at Hejo cremation ground,  the Nimapas at Hongtso and for both at Kichu Lhakhang. For Hindus Muslims at upper Chuzom and Christians in apple orchards. But each individual bereaved family have particular preference of style of last sent off for their beloved no more. Though what difference would such make to the departed member?

In news and in live sites, I have witnessed decorative arrangements as well as just minimum essential make do ones. To both kinds, I have offered silent prayers and respects. What difference would such decks make to the departed loved ones ?

But yes, to the living and those who are gathered, varying arrangements would surely imply even more varying impressions and talks. Maybe ' awesome ' maybe ' acceptable ' and great many ' humble '.  Grandiose or humble, many mourners or few, officiated by high truelkus or lay priests. All details important to bereaved families and onlookers. But what difference would all these make to the departed soul ?

Maybe its six feet deep ground burial in ivory coffin or pine wood box.  Maybe a newly created stupa pyre in enclosure of silken pavilion or one of the the ready installed circular concrete receptacle in which the body is laid with wood and fire lit. What difference would various sent off  arrangements make to a body without the spirit ?

People cry for freedom. People die for freedom. But what really is freedom?
Its all to do with body not the spirit. The body can be held prisoner but not the mind. Humans do everything possible to gain freedom for the body when alive. . And yet upon death, the body is imprisoned as much as possible for the final voyage. 

The richer and more powerful one had been, the more wrappings and enclosures for the body in death. And that is really the sorry state of human grandiose concept.

What really would be the preferred manner of final voyage by the spirit for the body that it once gave life ? I can only wonder !

I for sure would want to be free of all earthly shackles. Make my pyre fresh on the mother earth and let blue open sky roof over it. Imprison not with mundane enclosures and contain not the flame and smoke with colourful frills that only serve to pollute.

A circle of loved ones chanting the mani mantra invoking Chenrezi will just be superb. No other incidentals can make difference where my spirit ought to be.

But for my sentiment, Haa my place of birth should be where the pyre is set on fire. And ashes in Haa Chu that come from Chhundu Gangri and where it flows along the feet of Miri Phuensum. And no prayer flags. I love standing trees especially the tall and straight that are felled for poles.  Just Tsa Tsa stupa made of pure soil numbering my age placed on the hill spire of Gung Karpo as a tribute to Mom and Dad who gave me life. May Love and Blessings prevail in hearts !

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thimphu Gida Mining Verdict.

Today, Kuensel has carried over as news the verdict on the mining disputes at Gida between the adversely affected Communities and four mining companies.
The compensation amount is nominal and should be of no real burden to the companies. The communities may feel aggrieved by the Nu: 745,530:00 compensation versus their claim of over Nu: 5,000,000:00.

The sad fact is that the compensation may not even cover the cost of litigation. It is time that Courts looked into this issue of litigation cost. The guilty party should be made responsible for the cost of legal process. This will have two positive outcome. The victims of aggressions would be encouraged to seek dispute settlement through legal course instead of taking laws into their hands out of sheer frustration. And the aggressors would be more cautious and reasonable if they know that if proved at fault the actual litigation cost must be borne by the guilty party.

I am, however, impressed by the grounds covered by the verdict in terms of constitutional rights, the right to adequate safe drinking water, the right to unpolluted irrigation water for crop cultivation, the enforcement of minimum air pollution and imposition and adherence to safe limits of explosive usage at mining sites. The ruling even incorporated the spiritual well being of the communities. It is a landmark judgement.

What is now most critical is how the relevant Agencies like Geology and Mines  Health, and the Environment upon whom the Court has called upon to act, intends to fulfill their official and legal responsibilities.
In the first place, there would not have been the need for affected communities to approach the Court of Law if such agencies had fulfilled their mandates. Thus the doubts against official will of agencies to fulfill mandates.

A Dzongkhag Court functioning under huge constraints of both human resources and administrative clouts is in no position to follow up on its judicial directives. And villagers of a community are in no position to move powerful government agencies especially against well heeled commercial enterprises. If that had been possible, there would be no need to resort to the Court of Law.
Therefore, the problems faced by the Gida community may still continue far into the future. Even then a beginning has been made by the Bench II of Thimphu Dzongkhag Royal Court of Justice to protect commercial interests of mining enterprises as well as the the rights and central essentials of the livelihood that are the foundation of a community wellbeing.

I feel a little social effort from the mining companies can go a long way to make village communities feel safe and less abused. Mining activities are necessary evils that cannot be altogether banned. However, the powerful proprietors of mining companies operating all over the Country need not become the devils for uprooting communities. A responsible government must act to protect communities and at the same time
enhance proper and beneficial exploitation of natural resources.

I wish to express my appreciation to the Dasho Drangpon who has courageously set a historic precedent by this judgement.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Ground realities of governance Bhutan.

A year ago it was said rural farm roads can compensate for shelved highways in  South Bhutan. A week ago it was said farm roads can do with thin layer of asphalt as heavy vehicles like trucks will be banned. 

No railways, no rope ways, no water ways and no airways for cargo transport within the nation. And if cargo truck transport is banned from using farm roads how does supplies to rural communities and farm produces from rural Bhutan to markets move ?

Handy glib official attitude and tattered piece meal approach killing national aspirations. Sayonara ! 11th 5 year plan !

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Let's Clear All Election Doubts for Future Candidates.

Rix Xin has made the following comments on my recent article of 14th March about ECB decisions regarding two cases of Phuentsholing and Thimphu Thromde Elections. Refer

Rix Xin states to Quote, “I quote author,  " He had an individual private trade licence and yet the Election Commission had chosen to illuminate the term profit in the widest of imagination as in doing trade for profit to get the candidate out of the way" I dont find it reason enough to prove that he is innocent. On the other hand, MPs attending official lunch and wishing them good luck cannot be politicized that too months before actual campaign started " Unquote.

I thank Rix Xin for reading the article and giving his considered views. The reproduced photo and comments that was posted in fb on 27th November,2015 is the subject of discussion here.

I write not really as a response to Rix Xin but to bring better clarity for those interested in participating in future elections.

Just to set the fact straight, Thromde Election Campaign began on 26th December, 2015 and photo was taken on 25th November, 2015 and posted with comments two days later on 27th November.  So it is not " months " before election campaign. And it was not an ordinary "official lunch ". The occasion was the last Thromde Committee Meeting after which the Members resigned before their term ended to participate in the 2nd Thromde Election. So it was the day of publicly confirming their candidacy for the coming election. Therefore, the event is very much political.

Regarding Phuentsholing's former Thrompon owning a private trade licence. The business was managed by another person so it is similar to owning shares in a corporation that is managed by a separate corporate management entity. Have political candidates been disqualified for having corporate stocks/shares in their names? The answer is No. So the Office of Profit rule actually implies to influence and money that is available with a Public Post as in the Government or Public Office or Company and not really to additional income source of private business nature.

Having made the above clarifications, what is important is about the parameter in which future Candidates of an election can operate/campaign without being censured by the ECB. I call that the Bench Mark. And Bench Mark should not be altered at political whims or fancies nor according to the mood of ECB.  
To illustrate my point in clear terms for any layman to understand, let me give this example.

Hereafter, if a Thrompon or thuemi candidate of Haa Thromde is publicly endorsed by the two People's Democratic Party MPs of Haa on the day he or she declares candidacy, that person should not be disqualified by ECB under the article 31 (b). And same democracy allowances should be accorded to all other Candidates regardless of their individual social status or the status of their political backers. This means that article 31 (b) of local election act must be scrapped.

I feel that the General Bhutanese Public would like the Election Commission of Bhutan to act fairly and be honourably rational in the conduct of Election matters and interpretations of election laws. Transparency is not that important because Dictators are very transparent in their actions and yet not considered guardians of democracy. They are simply not accountable to Laws for their actions. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Democratic Elections and Bhutan Election Commission. An endeavour to examine the actions and inactions of the Election Commission of Bhutan. Accountable how and to whom?

The health of Democracy largely begins with the conduct of Election Process. In the past there have been many frictions between the Election Commission of Bhutan and the Legislative Institutions as well as Political Parties of Bhutan in the conduct of Election process and interpretations of Election Laws by the Election Commission.

I am sharing 2 specific cases of election issues that came under the scrutiny
of the Election Commission of Bhutan during the recent Thromde Elections and its political fortune changing decisions.

One was in public domain regarding the disqualification of former Phuentsholing Thrompon. The Election Commission had invoked the Section (e) of Article 31 of the Local Government Act. It seems that the implied implication of the clause was stretched to the extreme limit to net the  candidate.

And the other was less publicised outcome of the review of what appeared as the Thimphu's 2 constituency MPs blessings for Thimphu Local Election Candidates prior to actual Thromde Election Campaign. This had to do with the Section (b) of the same Article 31 of the Local Government Act. Here the Election Commission seems to have magnanimously granted the widest of leeway in Democracy Allowances to nullify the infringement appearance.

The most important thing in democratic election process is for the Election Commission of Bhutan to uphold ' Equal responsibility to the interpretation of Election Laws regardless of which Candidate or Political Party is involved. A partiality approach would rot the Bhutanese system of  democracy that the Framers envisioned.'

Bhutan has many sharpened  election legal tools that have double edges. Civil servants must remain apolitical ; Political Parties must refrain from influencing Local Government Elections ; Volunteers cannot assist in campaign works of Candidates and so on. I find these rules rather excessive because ultimately the individual voter is free to make his or her choice in the privacy of the polling booth. Neither God nor Boss can make him or her cast a vote against his or her own free will.  On the other hand, the danger of having such restrictions is that an unscrupulous Election officer or an Election Commission with a political agenda of its own can flex or deflex those legal instruments to influence or change Election outcome. Has it happened yet ? Dissatisfactions have been expressed in the past. In my personal view the Election Commission did not seem to have exercised its authority with the same zeal in the cases of Thimphu and Phuentsholing possible infringement issues.

By the time, I wrote to Election  Commission, the three Thromde Election was done and over with. I simply wanted to find out in retrospection, how Election Commission adopted two different strategies for what seemed two rather similar breach of different Sections of Article 31 of Local Government Act . The relevant Sections of Article 31 are:

31 (b)
Engages in any party politics or activities.

31 (e)
Holds any office of profit under the government or public company or corporation.

To me it is very clear that former Phuentsholing Thrompon did not hold any office of profit whether Government, Public Company or Corporation as described in Article 31(e). He had an individual private trade licence and yet the Election Commission had chosen to illuminate the term profit in the widest of imagination as in doing trade for profit to get the candidate out of the way. And on the other hand in the case of what I observed to be a likely infringement during  Thimphu Thromde Election, the Election Commission in my opinion was more than magnanimous. I would have preferred that the Election Commission exercised equal magnanimity or censure.

Hereunder, I am reproducing my letter to the Election Commission on the subject of " Political Party Blessings in Thimphu Thromde Election. An infringement of Election Law? "


The Honourable Chief Commissioner Dasho Chogyal Dago and other Dasho Commissioners of the Election Commission of Bhutan.
Your Honours,       

     Sub: Political Party Blessings in Thimphu Thromde Election. An infringement of Election Law?

Recently, after accepting a fb friend request, I came across a fb post of MP Kinga Tshering that was shared in November, 2015. I felt that this warrants a review by ECB.

I am forwarding the link of the fb post to the Election Commission of Bhutan for official review. Your attentions may have already been drawn to it unofficially.  If such political association is legal, then a public notification from ECB sanctifying  association with Political Parties for Local Election would be timely and helpful for other aspiring candidates.

The fb post speaks for itself and the implication is very clear. The Thrompon and his Council Members had sought the Blessings of the two important MPs of Druk Phuentsho Tsogpa. The political ramification and benefit is very real . Both Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba and Dasho Kinga Tshering are stalwarts of DPT. They are  the only two MPs representing the two Constituencies of Thimphu and their joint constituencies make up the whole of Thimphu Thromde voter banks. The fb remarks of the two MPs leave no doubt of their genuine support for the out going Thrompon and his Tsogpa colleagues. The Thromde Local Government elected Team was profusely thanked and blessed to be re-elected by the two DPT MPs of Thimphu Constituencies. Therefore, there is no doubt that Thrompon Kinley Dorji and the seven Thromde Thuemis  had sought and received the support and blessings of the two MPs and handsomely benefitted in their reelections.

The fb posted photo has the official status of the Thimphu Thromde Local Government with the two MPs of North and South Thimphu Dzongkhag Constituencies in the centre fold. It seems to have been taken during the last Thromde Council Meeting and celebration before the Members resigned and went for their respective re-election bids.

The Election Commission has disqualified the former Phuentsholing Thrompon who was favoured to win the reelection because of what appears to be an infringement of election law by the Candidate. Likewise the fb post clearly confirms the political association of Thimphu Thrompon and all the Thromde Tsogpas / Thuemis with the two MPs of Thimphu Dzongkhag. And Political association with any Political Party especially in matters of their re-election bids  is likely to be an infringement of the laws of Local Government Election. Thimphu Thromde Candidates had associated with the DPT MPs of North and South Thimphu constituencies ,therefore, directly influencing the voter banks of the Political Party to vote for them in their re-elections.

Such similar  association if permitted by ECB, will impact all Dzongkhag Thromde elections, hereafter.  Thus for a Local Election to be free of Political Party influence, it should be necessary to discourage/ outlaw such public endorsement of Local Government Candidates by Political Parties or by their constituency MPs. Otherwise, where constituencies are overwhelmingly PDP, the Thromde Local Government will be that of PDP. And where DPT MPs are in majority as in Thimphu, the Local Government will be captured by DPT Candidates. This will naturally lead to Local Government Election being transformed into political contest between Political Parties.

I seek the wisdom of the honourable Dashos of the Election Commission of Bhutan in this matter. My interest is to have all laws equally enforced so that Justice is served regardless of the socio economic political status of a Bhutanese or in Election case that of Candidates.

Thanking your Honours and wishing all Dashos very successful terms in Office.

Your faithfully
Sangey ( Wangcha )


Now that the readers have gone through my letter to the Election Commission, let me make several cautionary statements before I am condemned or lauded. I seek neither. Just reasoned, seasoned and  substantiated thoughts or words if you please.

1. To a general reader, it might appear that I have personal issues with DPT particularly with Lyonpo Yeshi Zimba and Dasho Kinga Tshering and Thromde Dasho Thrompon and Tsogpa members. I have no issues with any of them. Some Tsogpas I have not even met.

2. Then some may feel that I was trying to damage the DPT Party. Again I have no reasons to think ill of DPT or any other Political Parties. Political Parties are veins of democracy.

3. And some might think it was an attempt to derail  popular choices of the voters. Again No !  The procedure to stop or disqualify candidate/s is to submit a complaint during Election period to the Election Commission or its representatives. Once Election result is announced, the jurisdiction passes from Election Commission to the Judiciary including the 10 days Petition time. So any petition of election grievance must be filed to the respective Dzongkhag Court to have any impact and not to the Election Commission.

I have neither complained to the Election Commission during election period nor approached the Court of Justice during the Petition time. Actually I do not care who comes or goes in an Election. Not that I am unconcerned about the Country but because whoever comes or goes depends on mass choice in a democracy. And one must learn to respect that fact.

4. What I really care about is the foundamentality of democratic process. The absolute impartiality of the processes of Election.  And Election Commission is solely responsible for fair and transparent Election. The Election Commission of Bhutan has been clearly Transparent. Its the Fairness part that is confusing and muddled. ( Look at the Gelephug Thromde case. The first Thrompon tenure was to expire on 15th March 2016 as per Local Government Act. And because the Election Commission arbitrarily conducted the second Thromde Election before time, the new Thrompon had to take office latest by 26th February,2016. What a Tamasha ? And this political Tamasha created by Election Commission was made more grotesque.  The parent Ministry pulled a black foxy rule highlighting a confused state of governance in an attempt to vanquish the presiding Thrompon before his official term ended with the endorsement of Election Commission.  It seems Acts and constitutional provisions are simply tools of the powerful and not the umbrella over democracy parameters as designed.

5, Election Commission is not accountable to any administrative or judicial authority for decisions taken during the Election period. So decisions to disqualify the former Thrompon of Phuentsholing as well as the decision to give the go ahead in case of Thimphu candidates to participate  in the Election cannot be reversed. However, I have raised the issues in a substantive manner and perhaps succeed in getting the powerful Commission to ponder. And better still establish a Bench Mark under  which future candidates can take refuge.  
6.. By the time I wrote to the Election Commission, the internet  link I referred to was there for over two months in public/ social media along with the Minutes of last Meeting of Thimphu Thromde Council.  I felt that the Election Commission would surely have examined the implications. I wondered what stopped it from pursuing the Article 31 (b).

7. The Commission had invoked the Article 31(e) against former Phuentsholing Thrompon and disqualified him. However, the Commission had not deemed necessary to invoke Article 31( b) in the case of Thimphu Candidates. Did the numerical factors that of only an individual in Phuentsholing and a large group size Candidates plus a Political Party in Thimphu deter Election Commission in Thimphu and  propel it in Phuentsholing?  Or was it a true dawn of real Democracy Allowances that caused the Election Commission to rule out  infringement of Article 31(b)  and give the go ahead nod for Thimphu Candidates to participate in the Thromde Election. And disqualified the lone candidate in Phuentsholing who had no group or political strength to make meaningful protests.

8.  The Election Commission though all powerful is expected to execute its functions without prejudice.  So I wrote to the Election Commission. I did not expect any concrete action but hoped they will ponder over my scepticism. After 3 weeks, I politely asked what response or comment they had on this issue. I thought any response from Election Commission would provide a good political Bench Mark in the upcoming local Elections.

I am most grateful and deeply respect the  Honourable Chief Election Commissioner for  graciously taking  the time and trouble to respond to my SMS communication of 25th February, 2016 reproduced hereunder.

Self:  Honourable Dasho , any comment or response to my email  of 4thFeburary,2016. Thank You with Respects Wangcha Sangey

Dasho:  We issued notice and received explanations too. Documents, including observers report & same of media arbitrator, were reviewed for further caution or action or collection of evidence. Seems there is no cause to believe that integrity of election outcome was undermined. However we will ensure to prevent any such potential damage for the ensuing elections la. Thanks

Self:   Thank you Dasho. This conclusion would help future candidates breathe  easier. Stringency can be over constricting.

Dasho: Indeed la. Thanks


9.  I thought the above SMS response from Election Commission Dasho though seemingly through was a standard description of a standing procedure adopted by Election Commission in the Dispute Settlement between warring Political Parties who make complaints to Election Officers during the period of Election. Thus the references to observers report, media people and arbitrators that have no real bearing on the  photo of Thromde Candidates with Thimphu MPs with comments. It is said that  a picture is worth thousand words.  Everything was there in full colours and printed words.  Also the Election Commission could not have followed such a procedure upon the receipt of my letter because by then, the ball was officially out of Election Commission jurisdiction. All disputes or complaints raised post election result announcement have to be dealt by the Court of Law if approached by a complainant. And I was not raising a dispute or complaint. I simply wanted to know how Election Commission have opposing perspectives for the two  incidents that have similar infringement appearances. By official review I meant a process of introspection of its election conduct in the two cases.

10.  The different decisions of the Election Commissions on the two cases appears to demonstrates the possible exercise of official  powers in such extent of magnitude variation that can make or break a political fortune. Democratic values could be easily undermined.

The Photo that Dasho Kinga Tshering  shared could very well be that of a demonstration of closely knitted social moment and not an evidence of political association as in Article 31 (b) of  Local Government Act.  The deed could be a simple social event and the fb sharing the proof of innocence. Or the deed an unofficial campaign launch and the fb sharing a political message to voters.  Likewise maybe the former Thrompon possessing a trade licence could be deemed an innocent lapse and also irrelevant to Article 31(b). It did not fall under office of profit category.  But in Phuentsholing case, the Election Commission chose to apply the logic of General Perception and in Thimphu case, the logic of General Perception was ignored. General Perception is kind of conclusion by the majority of an incident when the relevant law is not absolutely clear cut.  Thus different yardstick was adopted in the same Election.  That lacks equity in Fairness though Transparency was clear in the unevenness of the implementation. The reliability of Election Commission to be politically and officially fair and transparent in conduct is crucial in democratic elections. Fairness is absolutely more essential than just being  transparent.

11. One immediate objective achieved from this exercise is now a kind of Bench Mark has been established.  The future political  Candidates have a Bench Mark of what can be done and what can be construed an election taboo.  Now candidates can breathe a little easier in the matter of political association during Election and be less restricted in conducting a more impact oriented election campaign. What is past is past. What can be done, hereafter, free of grey areas are vital ingredients to good democracy.

Maybe the narrow and infuriatingly arbitrary attitude of the past where even an offer of doma pane was considered a breach of Election Rules are now laid buried to the past. If Election Commission could adapt to the character of the closely knitted society of our small population then there should no longer be that prevailing fear of Election Commission usage of a hammer on a trifle social flaw.

12. What will Election Commission's approach be to the many Local Elections to be held after June this year. After all, it would be just impossible in a closely knitted small population to avoid inter-relations between Local Candidates and members of Political Parties. Most candidates will be former members of Political Parties. They had resigned from their Party membership possibly just to meet the rediculous criteria set by legislators. It could be a physical separation not an emotional and heart separation. But National Election or Local Election, these are political instruments to enhance political liberty. Maybe the laws that segregate these elections should be scrapped rather than leaving it up to the  dictates of Election Commission to decide the thin line.

13.  I guess my writing to Election Commission and now sharing the same in social media will create hard feelings and possibly backlashes. Not many are concerned about the larger national picture.  But it was a good opportunity to question the official conscience of the Election Commission. I had to find out the pulse of the New Election Commission and the General Public. The Nation's conscience must be pricked. Principles of Democracy demands not just Transparency but apparent Fairness and Equality. Transparently being Fair and Equal is most Beautiful and Desirable !

May all Laws apply equally to all people but may social and traditional culture find compassion and tolerance even in the coldness of the Legislations and Courts of Justice.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A life sets with the passing away of the best of friend. Dearly missed ' Goup ' Tshering Wangchen.

A friend, a very best friend dear Tshering Wangchen. Yours was quite a turbulent life but somehow you faced it with your own choosing. A personality of different seasons and a true friend of all seasons that's who you have been. Different personality because you had to adapt to vicious seasons of life but kudos because you still survived with your honest simple heart and character. A friend of all seasons because you remained the very same Tshering Wangchen whether you were in the royal environment at Samteling Palace or in Dhobjee village environment.

Nothing stood between us. You understood my disciplinarian ways and I comprehended your carefree almost irresponsible attitude to life and living. Your character was shaped by the lush rich golden rice fields of beautiful Paro valley and mine by the icy stark blue but heavenly valley of Haa.  You loved life in whatever manner. You loved archery, songs and dances and pretty good in all yourself.  It shocked me to the core when informed 4 days too late. I wish I had the privilege of standing by your bedside before you left for your next abode. 

I feel very sad maybe more of loneliness. Yet as memories flash by there are so many that makes me smile. 1965 at North Point School, the Sisters ( Nuns ) from Kerala complained about our names Wangchen and Wangcha being too confusing and we thought the Kerala  tongue just impossible to decipher. At Ugyen Wangchuck Academy, Paro when I decided that I was fed up with the group punishment. Morning study was one hour duration 6:30 to 7: 30. But our Principal decided to count the time starting with the last arrival and so the study never ended at 7: 30. One morning I walked out at 7:30 and sure enough Mr. Filby ordered me to get back because last arrival was timed 15 minutes late. I refused and got into a debate with him on the irrationality of group punishment and life being largely individual liability. A few minutes later you had walked out and the Principal told you to get back into the study hall. And you protested saying that I was already out there.  From that morning, it was one hour study for all with own timing and surprisingly even our friend Tally started coming at 6:30 am sharp. Actually no one wanted to be late for breakfast served immediately after the study. Ha ! Ha! Students always have hungry stomachs.  Another was when your wife of original Love passed away. It did not sound incredulous then but every time I recall how you broke the news to your son who had just come from the school in India baffles me. You said, " Son, you know Happy Hunting Ground? Mummy has gone there ". I guess we really enjoyed as students those Cowboys and Red Indians movies and you like Red Indians just related Heaven to Happy Hunting Ground. And that's really the whole of You: Simple,Straight and Uncomplicated.

Then more than 16 years ago, you shocked me by turning up most unexpectedly during one of the 21 days period of my mother"s last rites. My shocked reaction was, " Tshering, you are not supposed to be here ". And you calmly replied, " I knew you would say so but don't worry, I took necessary permission." I was glad to see you though apprehensive about your personal well being. Thank you my friend for being there.
Mom knew of you as my first friend beyond Haa valley.

Yes. There are so many instances of the past that makes me smile even in grief.

I often wondered why Fate made life so complicated for such a simple honest person. It was fine and smooth sailing until your wife of original Love passed away. Then came the short period of your crazy love that led to insane deed which undid the anchor of your family. Years later you found another Love and this time thankfully you loved sensibly and found some steadiness in your life.

You are survived by your three children of original Love. I really admire them. They were put under tremendous strain at such tender ages and they have come through wounded probably but far stronger and healthy in all sense. Your daughter from second wife is beautiful,too. Then your wife Rinzi Pem and the two children son and daughter. The elder four are well settled and do not worry about the younger two. Your eldest of children wonderful Deki who I think later became your life anchor says she and others can take care of and guide the younger two whom you  already have nourished and guided up to their High Schoolings.

There is not much earthly worries that you leave behind. They will miss you as much as you are fond of them. But your families especially your six children are closely knitted together. I guess you know that. And I was so happy to hear that your friends from Dhobjee Village came in droves to mourn for you and stand by your large Family. Your wife tells me that on the third day of your 11 days illness, your condition  panicked her and she called home. And in about 2 hours or so, 29 men from her village barged into your chamber brushing aside the Thimphu Hospital security staffs and pleas from your family members to respect the hospital rule. They told Deki your daughter " Sorry, we owe your father too much to stay away from him at this stage of his life ". And this scene was repeated even in the wee hours of that fateful Sunday when you chose to fade away.  How very, very wonderfully touching ! 

Its your Dhobjee group led by your friend former Dhobjee Lam, your grandson Truelku and others who are leading the prayer rituals all the way to the 21st day.

And my friend, you must be in double Heaven with the honour that our great King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck accorded to you on the 4th day. The 4th day into the after life world is said to be the awakening and realisation day of one's change of state. So possibly you were spiritually conscious of the Royal Blessings. His Majesty visited your bereaved Family where also you had laid in state. His Majesty had your wife, all your children and grand children seated in his audience and shared those tales of our incredible youthful happy memorable days at Ugyen Wangchuck Academy. I am told that it was His Majesty who graciously told Deki to inform me of your passing away. How so very thoughtful His Majesty still remains ! I never faltered in my faith and respect for our King but this incredible epitome of Love and Kindness shown to you and your Family by His Majesty is just beyond humane humanity. I have bowed to the Royal Person but never to the Royal Portrait. But I have started since I heard of the event. The King is Buddha alike so like Buddha statue is HM portrait. I am so happy and feel honoured because you were so richly honoured by our great King and Guru.  With such a Blessing from a kind of living Chenrezi, your soul would definitely be in Heaven. I feel like congratulating you on your death but I miss you my dearest friend.

You had passed away in the early hours of Sunday the 14th of February, 2016 at around 1.30 am, Deki tells me. I got the shocking news on Wednesday evening. On Thursday I got the opportunity to greet and pay my respect to you and be among your Family sitting around you as the monks chanted and offered lunch to you. The monk reading the Vardo Thudruel was into the 7th day passage.  I had to whisper to you that it was the 5th day. Hope you were listening.  Later both your wife and daughter Deki told me that they wished they had served you a drink before you passed away. The thing is we are never able to let go and keep wondering what else could have been done to ease that pain or add on few more hours or days of life. Love and Affection are not bound by reasons. But now you would know far more than any of us here because in the after life world you attain ninefold wisdom and everything else. Yes, hereafter, I will be the one seeking advice.

The cremation day Friday the 19th February turned out to be beautifully calm and sunny. Looks like you had no demands upon anyone. But there were lots of tears and many mourners. The lady friends consoling your wife seemed dumb founded when I told them to let her cry but keep close company. Tears somehow help to  ease that near suffocating pent up emotion of despair. 

The day passed too soon and I kind of felt real void as the ashes got carried away by Thimphu Chu. The only consolation was accompanying your spirit to your childhood home at Paro. In the jumble of disarray that follows in leaving the cremation ground and Thimphu traffic, somehow,  I reached your home in Paro before your convoy. How did you feel me welcoming you to your own home? Old days moh ! Those Sartsam Chorten days when two of us raced to your home. Did I out race you as I did this time? Maybe you were with me all the time in that final return journey to your home and hearth.

Before I left your Home, I told your daughters Deki and Tshering Lham to count me in if they are ever in need of an emotional father. In all other matters, all your elder four children are doing very well. They are determined and capable of guiding the younger two. You know that,too. And my friend, You must join me to salute your son Chencho who to me symbolise " True Grit ".

And your wife will be alright because you have so many who adore you and love you in her village. Strange but true that Dhobjee has turned out to be a place of your life yearning though it did not start that way. Your wife tells me that even late into the nights you would not stay at Thimphu or Paro. But insist on gong to sleep at your humble Dhobjee home. Why ? A Khendum waiting there in your dreams !  Perhaps you were a kind of Milarepa,too. It is said that the statue of Milarepa brought from Tibet refused to budge upon reaching Dhobjee. There is even a very tall Dzong perhaps a replica of his nine storey one in Tibet.

Wait ! Oh My God ! It just occurred to me that the two lives have great parallels. Yours and the Buddhist yogi Jetsuen Milarepa. And Dhobjee is where pilgrims go to be blessed by Milarepa statue brought from Tibet  and purified by Milarepa Spring which too originate at Tibet. Life is stranger than the unknown. But today finally, I am beginning to find the answer to my initial query. Why did Fate complicate the life of such an honest simple man ? I have been so troubled by your departure and got down to write away my agony. And as usual I am rewarded. Writing from the heart reveals truths and connects those dots to reveal values and essence.  You are simple but not that ordinary my friend !

This time I suddenly make the happy discovery of the parallel life of Milarepa. How very incredible ! Milerepa had Marpa  Guru and you a Maha King. A beloved woman the mother in case of Milarepa and yours a beloved lady who were reasons of similar unholy tragedies  followed by years of penance of 12 years or so and final deliverance by the Guru and in your case again His Majesty our King.  You had  physically laboured to contribute in the reconstruction/renovation of Tan Gu Dzong and operated later in life a stone quarry for livelihood gains. And Milarepa quarried stones to build the Tho Gu Dzong by himself for spiritual gains.   Now I recall Deki telling me. She said, " Uncle, my father was not a religious man but surprisingly  he got blessings from so many holy Lamas during his last few hours of life." And my response strangely was, " Well dear, he may not have appeared religious but all this proves he was pure in heart." In retrospection, I had hit the bulls eye ! Didn't I dear Milarepa parallel ?

Dear Milarepa Tshering. Thank You for being there from those days of 11 years of age till now. A Friend for Life is a precious soulmate. Rest in Peace. You earned it.

P.S Today Thursday the 25th of February,2016 is the 12th Evening since your departure. I just had to release my emotion because its difficult to contain, alone, all bottled up.  I know it is not fair to monopolise the conversation but you give me no alternative my dearest Friend. With Love and Respects.