Friday, January 27, 2017

Facts about Court verdicts for those interested in knowing facts.

1.Verdicts are judgements passed by a Court of Law.

2. It is the responsibility of the  Court of Law to enforce  verdict upon the litigants if the same is not complied with. The litigants cannot enforce judgement contrary to what some journalists wrote. 

3. The plaintiffs and the defendants must either comply with the verdict or make appeal to higher Court ( in Bhutan the appeal must be done within 10 working days from the date of verdict). The highest Court in Bhutan under the Constitution is the Supreme Court. So Supreme Court Judgement cannot be appealed.

As a subject of His Majesty the King, a Bhutanese litigant could make appeal to His Majesty the King after Supreme Court decision.   But not for another judgement. For Kidu only. And if one be so fortunate to receive the grace of Kidu then show gratitude and respect by accepting the outcome of Kidu appeal. It is out of bounds of  decency for a law abiding subject to mount direct or indirect ugly attacks on national institutions when the outcome is not upto individual expectation after seeking Royal intervention. Such behaviours reflects badly upon the Kingdom's code of social conduct and equal service.

4. The plaintiffs and defendants must note that if they do not go for appeal then they have to comply with the verdict. And compliance has to be done within the time frame set in the verdict.

5. In the event due to some unforseen problems,  the  plaintiffs or defendants are not able to comply with the provisions of the verdict, then they must approach that particular Court for time extension with valid reasons before the legal time bound expires. Do not expect the Court of Law to seek the courtesy of the litigants for enforcement of the verdict if not already complied within the time provided.

6. It is not alright to express intent to comply with the provisions of the verdict after the legal time frame expires. The Court is required by Law to enforce it's verdict upon the litigants if the litigants do not comply within the time frame provided. 

7. All Bhutanese and Bhutanese Institutions must respect and comply with the judgement passed down by the Supreme Court of Bhutan. However, it  looks like that some feel different and mount ugly attacks upon the  Supreme Court or individual Justices of the Supreme Court. Perhaps they have their own designs and motives. Only time can tell. Freedom of expression or depression of sovereignty under foreign influence?   Not much to feel overly disturbed, I think.The Kingdom has survived outer or inner disruptive forces in the past. The present undesirable trends are sugar coated in the name of freedom of expression and so must be handled in like manner.  

It is necessary to keep in mind that His Majesty the King has never expressed displeasure with Supreme Court Landmark judgements let alone other lesser verdicts. Both the two democratic Governments of Bhutan and the Election Commission of Bhutan and the 1st and 2nd Parliament have  respectfully accepted the judgements of the Supreme Court and abided by the verdicts issued.

Against this background,  many silent spectators in Bhutan who never had reasons to question national Institutions, would be intently watching how judiciary now defends itself and Justice  against vicious attacks by some forces. Does different standard apply to different sections of Bhutanese society? Does quality of Justice depend on who can shout the loudest and attract outside attention or is it an inbuilt culture within the system?  Can journalists with personal agendas hold justice to ransom in the name of freedom of speech that is music to international media?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Making the rich richer.

Royal Monetary Authority (RMA)  has overall authority over Banks and account holders. When RMA feels a heightend sense for responsibility for the money of account holders, it issues order to the effect that Banks cannot withhold depositors' money. And when it wants to  display magnanimity to Banks, it issues orders to freeze certain amount of money from depositors accounts.

This time RMA has issued notification to the effect that account holders with cheque faciliy must maintain a minimum account balance of Nu:1000:00. This means the Banks can use that much amount from each account with the bank without having to account for it physically.

There has to be thousands of account holders because most salaries are paid into Bank accounts. Out of many thousands, probably a bank would have minimum 10000 account holders with cheque facility. And under  RMA new order, a Bank would have access to free fund of one crore/ ten million ngultrums  to do as it prefers. A good bonus to fellow Financial Institutions from their Supreme Regulator.

Banks levy a fee on every cheque book they issue. Further Banks like BOB and Druk PNB levy annual maintenence fee on every account. And now these banks can keep 1000 of customer cash. It is one kind of a formula of rich made richer by absolute authorities..

A matter of legitimate process?

Just went through two headline news of Kuensel and both covering the same defamation case. I can understand the mood of perplexity of some of us non legal people. But why legal professionals are  questioning, that too anonymously,  the appropriateness of withdrawl of cases after they themselves quote the law that permit the same. Perhaps some interested parties feel cheated out of their spectacle of gladiator fights. Court cases are experiences that most would want to do without. Only those with money and power might enjoy the process. I am glad for the three individuals that their case has concluded.

Regarding the hype associated to the withdrawl of the cases, actually in life you are quite free until you make a commitment. Like there is no legal  penalty in falling in love until you tie the knot and then later attempt to untie it. You can discuss a deal and work towards a deal and be free of liability if you backed out in the last minute before signing the deal. Likewise, in regards to  Court cases until the verdict is out, there are rooms for litigants and even judges to determine the course of the case.  Once the verdict is declared then not much can be done even by the judge of that particular Court.  That is why there is an appeal Court.

Even in cases where a party withdraws the case filed, I think the other party can appeal to the next higher Court if dissatisfied with the decision of the lower Court.  If that is not at all possible then one can initiate a new case against that person/ party. The deemed harassed party should not have to be satisfied with the compensation awarded by a Court.

In case  of the two defamation cases in Thimphu Dzongkhag Courts that were ultimately  withdrawn by the initiators, both the initiators were not let go free. They were subjected to consequences of their actions. Now if those defendants were  still not happy and feel justice has not been served to their satisfaction,  they should seek rooms to appeal. 

But it is not upto to the spectators to make decisions for such defendants. Spectators can speculate.But why would legal professionals and main stream media hype the issue? Did they discover something behind the sudden development? Was the initiator bribed or threatened to withdraw his case. Were the two defendants cajoled to succumb to the Court verdict?

So far none of the defendants in the two defamation cases have publicly expressed their desire to appeal against the final Dzongkhag Court verdicts. Perhaps the closure of the second defamation case brought relief to all three involved individuals. They did not sound particularly aggrieved by the conclusion.  That's more than what can be said about DPT in the first defamation case. For DPT the case is over and yet it is just blowing up. A restrained stance from media and anonymous few legal professionals could prevent another hype.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

World Politics and Denials but actual Truth even for a small nation.

President Donald Trump of America says to quote," America is First". His detractors in America say that to quote , "Isolationism is not good". Unquote.

Actually in modern times, I cannot find an instance where major countries of the world did not put their interest before that of any other country. Look at the ongoing world situations. Self national interests is not Isolationism. World power politics is never such simplicity.

America is still fighting an oil war in the Middle East for herself.  Britain is withdrawing from European Union in her own interest.  China is protecting her interest in the South China Sea.  India puts herself first in SAARC region. Russia is protecting her interest in the Mediterranean region. All these are putting self nation first. But only Donald Trump comes out in public and declares he is pursuing a policy of "America first".

Other smaller nations would like to put their interest first, too. But they lack the political and economic muscle. Even our Kings have always  put Bhutan first but because of our lack of political and economic clout, it takes time to achieve national goals in world Politics.  What China and India can achieve in a year, it takes Bhutan more than a generation. From the very beginning of his reign, His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck realised that 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty needed to be amended. What happened to Sikkim and her Chogyal shook Bhutan and the Bhutanese Monarchy Institution to the core of existence. Only towards the end of his 34 years reign, the King succeeded in getting the Indo- Bhutan 1949 Treaty amended to reflect the political reality that Bhutan must conduct her foreign Policy as a sovereign nation and not under the guidance of India. A monumental achievement that took monumental time and such tenacity that only a great Triple Gem King can demonstrate.   

During Bhutan's General Election of 2013 and thereafter,  Prime Minister Jigmi  Yoeser Thinley was attacked for meeting the Chinese Premier. I never waivered in my stand that Bhutan must have friendlier relationships with China. It was never and can never be about China replacing India. For Bhutan, Indo- Bhutan friendship relationship cannot be replaced. However, no nation small or large can ignore China of today. And especially for Bhutan and the way our national geography  is positioned, it would be suicidal for any Bhutanese leaderships  to do away with raprochment policy with China. Today I am glad that contact between China and Bhutan have increased. Our Prime Minister His Excellency Tshering Tobgay even shook hands with the President of China. And our SAARC neighbours especially India seem understand the positive outcome for regional peace  and stability in recognising the enevitable modern reality of Chinese position. 

Every nation has its national interest first in the ultimate game of sovereignty.  It is important that each adult citizen rise above narrow political prejudice and be with the Government in reign to follow this path. As responsible citizens of a small and landlocked Kingdom, we have to exercise more patience and deeper faith in the ways of our national leaderships.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bhutanese film and their success.

Kushuthara movie piece by Kuensel today is a breath of fresh air. The movie is directed  by a Bhutanese lady. Most probably she is also the producer. The article does not mention the producer. The lead actor is a foreigner.

In the recent debate about Hema Hema, a host of ardent supporters have been trashing the endeavours and products of many worthy Bhutanese film profucers, directors and actors. I do not know why the national producers, directors and actors were subjected to such animosity?  Was it necessary to trash other movies to enhance the image or worthiness of Hema Hema? The fight was supposed to be between BICMA and the producer, the director and supporters of Hema Hema. In the process, why did so many people victimise the products of Bhutanese film industry in general?

I am glad that Kushuthara succeeded in penetrating the foreign concept of good film. I think quite a few other Bhutanese films would have equally received similar foreign admirations, if the initial exposure was possible. Kushuthara's lead actor origin may have helped to get that door opened which many other Bhutanese films were unable to. What Kushuthara has demonstrated is that other Bhutanese apart from Dzongsar Khentse are capable of producing films of good standard and such quality will be recognised if only initial international exposure was achieved. 

I do not question the capability of Dzongsar Khentse in film industry. However, the venerable Trulku has far more network of connection in the outside world and therefore, his film or any other endeavour has better chance of getting exposure than that of other Bhutanese  film directors. It is viciously unhealthy and narrow prejudice of his supporters to trash other Bhutanese films for the purpose of glorifying Hema Hema. And I humbly beg to state that I found it rather unholy of the venerable Khentse to maintain silence whilst the endeavours and products of other Bhutanese producers, directors and actors were trashed in the name of Hema Hema. 

Talking of Hema Hema, it's supporters and innocent victims, I am looking attentively towards the decision of film tribunal to which BBS managing director is supposed to have put up his appeal. He is a capable and seasoned person. I never doubted his ability to reach executive position in any field he chose to pursue. However, here I see a clear breach of BICMA Act by BBS.  May not have been intentional. If the rule says a film cannot be broadcast unless approved by BICMA, it means that. A new film is never broadcast in entirety unless rights are bought by a TV station. And publicising via way of few seconds of showing parts of the film seen in some 40 countries ( was told that BBS reaches that many countries)  is a breach.  I also am against a Government Agency in this case BICMA Director General  demanding homage along with explanation from Managing Director of BBS.

In the overall national administration , if a political  appointee executive of a national body  keeps challenging the authority of another national Agency, we have a broken system.  This cannot go on. I mean political heavy weights just have to stop backing such disruptive trends.

I do not have opinion on Hema Hema as a film and it's masks. Generally I practise free speech  and expressions. And I do not do so for vengeance or publicity or personal objectives. But I feel disgusted with supporters of Hema Hema for trashing the whole of non Dzongsar Khentse Bhutanese film industry. I am also interested as a matter of valuable information and reference as to how many Bhutanese films have been publicly screened outside Bhutan and then later got approval from BICMA for screening within Bhutan. If the concerned producer went about a wrong process, penalise for this error but not take it out on the actual product.    

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bhutan a giant notch down in community harmony.

Nobody seems to have valued the harmony we have in our rural community. The crimes ( mostly petty though ) of urban Bhutan is like happenings in another world when you come to think of the peace and comfort prevailing in rural Bhutan. It is unbelievable.  But till date there is no policeman posted among Bhutanese rural communities/ villages. And soldiers are at their barracks or on the international borders.  Bhutan is actually a GNH nation in real essence  and practice.

This scene of authentic harmony is now going to be encroached. What a sad decision by the Government. Today Kuensel quotes " Smuggling has to be curbed," Colonel Chimi Dorji said.  " People think we are not letting them live but we cannot allow illegal activities to thrive anywhere." Unquote. The Chief of Royal Bhutan Police want to police the rural villages because the people are not cooperating and snitching upon their fellow community members. Why does not the Royal Government of Bhutan recruit all Bhutanese communities into the police force?  That is the surest way of holding onto power for considerable period of time.

For centuries the Bhutanese rural communities existed as near self sufficient and self reliant group of people. From marriage to birth to death or illness to farm works ; from daily meals to festivals to community works, there exist time honoured working systems  that ensured healthy community growth and co- existence. This naturally  harmonious and self supporting system could never have been so successfully cherished had residents had the social culture of deep enimity, envy and snitching habits.

Smuggling occurs cross interational borders. Within Bhutan there 20 Dzongkhags but all are subjected to same rules. For example tobacco is banned in all Dzongkhags. So there is no such thing as smuggling one banned item into a Dzongkhag from another liberalised Dzongkhag.

Regarding sandal wood smuggling, better law enforcement must be developed at Indo- Bhutan border. Not disruption of rural community life within Bhutan. Smughling is a lame excuse to police people in their homes.

It is a good national character if neighbours do not snitch upon each other. Loyalty and disloyalty is built at the grassroot. Do not expect nor encourage good people to spy on each other. And worse do not convert rural community into a police network. I can assure the authority that there will be no social or political benefit in policing the daily occurrence of a community life. Do not create open prison. It is not necessary.

What we have today is incredibly beautiful and represents the core value of GNH. For a long, long time, I have been telling the nation that the Fourth King did not create the philosophy of GNH from thin air. His Majesty perceived it at rural communities in Bhutan and packaged it at national and international level. Happiness and coexistence are achievable with minimum luxuries and without police supervision.

The only real hidden reason of placing policemen among rural communities is to scare people into submission. That goal will be achieved but then that can last only  until some other force loosens that  authoritive grip. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tsamdro the grazing land. It means more than grass to me.

The Government has moved towards doing away with traditional rights to pasture land. The traditional rights has been interpreted as only grazing rights in the recent years. Likewise the sokshing rights has been interpreted as right to collect dry leaves or pine needles. In the absence of a strong independent  judiciary system, the civil authority of the day reserves the right to interpretation. 

This was not the traditional understanding and practice. Grazing rights came together with protecting water catchment area. This meant some others just cannot start felling trees in the pasture land. Water source is the fundamental requirement of pastureland. Today many water sources are drying up precisely because traditional check and balance has be removed and indiscriminate destruction of water catchment area has devastated catchment vegetation leading to water sources drying up.

In case of sokshing, it is the same situation. Traditionally,  the thram holders looked after the sokshing and ensured healthy growth of trees. There cannot be indiscriminate felling of trees. Even the sokshing thram holder required permission to fell trees for self house  constructions or repairs. If sokshing right is removed then surely the natural forest will gradually get destroyed.

My family has a traditional grazing land. It's a beautiful highland on the ridges of hills that separate the Valleys of Haa and Paro. We are under pressure from powerful forces who wants to turn it into tourist camps.

My beloved mother died there in the cowshed herding the cows. The land means more than just grass to my family. 

It  is precious not just for grazing but for the sacrifice the ancestors made to keep it. Even in modern times during the early 1940s, whilst many families from my village Wangcha sold their grazing rights to the family of  Prime Minister Jigme Dorji, my grandfather kept his. The then Haa Drung remarked, " Ap Fuchu, I am told you have no yaks so why not sell ". My grandpa Fuchu humbly  submitted, " I have children Dasho ". The great far sighted personality who later became the Prime Minister of Bhutan immediately understood what need not have been said in words. My family was going nowhere and we will always have descendants and no present generation can do away with the source of future family sustainence. 

Today,  I am faced with the same dilemma. The Dzongkhag Administration in Haa has called upon my family along with others to accept Government compensation of the grazing lands and if we want to use it, then lease the same. I want to thank the Royal Government for granting my family the priority in leasing what was ours for so many centuries. I fully respect the demands of changing Times and Laws of the Land. I am humbly and dutifully prepared to be a lessor from the position of thram holder.

I have asked my family in Haa not to accept the compensation but to take on lease the grazing land and pay for it. It would be an unforgivable sin to sell even to the Government  what my ancestors so preciously held on. I am unable to accept a price for my mother's spirit and the sacrifice of my ancestors. Something tears up  within me when I think of parting with the land that I have walked over so many times and know it like the palm of my hand  But if it is taken away by a Government degree,  I am sure my law abiding ancestors, too, would  understand my position. Its like death taking away your heart beloved. One must come to terms with reality of life and living. I suppose that  there cannot be shame or breach of ancestral trust in  surrendering  what I cannot keep by law. And I am willingly to take on lease the very same grazing land if granted the choice.

The younger generations of my family may never fully comprehend my ways and my beliefs. At times even my ancestors did not understand me when I was a growing up youngster. I have gone through so many weathers of life and living.  And I survived because I never ever compromised my faith and love for my family and my nation. I do not expect others to be swayed by my thoughts but let me remain true to Bhutan and my family in my own ways. 

I will always be a true Bhutanese national through and through but as a responsible citizen and subject of the Wangchuck Dynasty, I will voice out my trepidations in the hope that we become a better nation and better Bhutanese. 


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tsethar advocates attacking way of life in reckless manner.

Farming in Bhutan is mainly mixed farming. That is crop cultivation  and livestock rearing. Both crops and livestock have traditionally sustained rural life. And majority of Bhutanese are said to be farmers who live off the land either cultivating crops or rearing livestock and selling farm products.  

Today this traditional livelihood is under attack directly from so called Tsethars and indirectly by the Dratsang. Yak herders love their yaks and it pains every Yak herder family to sell a Yak or two for slaughter. As simple and pure heart Buddhists, they are more aware than so many purported holier than though campaigners of animal life, about the sins of taking life. However, to sustain their livelihood and also to enable them to look after the larger number of their herds, few are sacrificed every year so that rest find sustainability. The Yak herder family does not sell their Yak for the pleasure of creating pain and they do not sell it for making profit. The herder family is not into commercial venture like some of you nor do they have steady monthly salary. 

Do not humiliate farmers who rear livestock whether yaks, cows, pigs or hen. Sometimes look inward and tell us from where or how did you make the money to enable you to practise that grandiose tsethar deed so publicly advertised. Was it donation, profit from business, sweated out like farmers on fields and in harsh weathers of wilderness?

The Department of Animal husbandry is invited to make a study of what happened to those animals other than fish that those so called Tsethars have saved. How were such animals cared for, thereafter? 

Protesting against commercial butchery is one whole world away from persecuting ordinary farmers and herders with your high profile hugely publicised tsethar interferences into the livelihood ways of farmers in Bhutan. If some of you cannot bear to tolerate the traditional livelihood of rural Bhutan, I invite you to provide an alternative means of livelihood. And if you are not in position to provide a decent alternate livelihood, please stay in peace and stop interfering and obstructing traditional livelihood. 

Do not preach what you cannot help to practice. Livelihood of farmers are not hobbies that you publicise as your good deeds. Farming whether in crop cultivation or rearing  livestock  is for sustainability in rural Bhutan. Not at all comparable to extracurricular public show of those better placed urban few. 

You want to seek forgiveness for your private sins, do something else other than victimising herders and other farmers . Sponsor a Moenlam Chhenmo or Kanju Reading every week if you want to please your Tsawi Lams or visit banks and settle loan accounts of those in true desperate situation or sponsor few rural students for college studies if you are sincere in social goodness. 

You may despise me for writing this. But do not be too sure that the reasons behind your public tsethar activity are all that laudable. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

BBS and BICMA in public battle.

According to Kuensel headline News today, the BBS Managing Director is refusing to comply with BICMA decisions and seeking media tribunal intervention. Can BBS Managing Director get Media Tribunal to change Section 111 (1) of the Act in reference? If not BBS has to pay up the penalty.

There is one demand that BICMA need not have insisted upon. That is requiring the Managing Director of BBS himself having to present explanation in person. What difference does it make whether the explanation is presented by the CEO or the General Manager who is  directly in charge of News  production or a Manager from BBS. A case of ego clash? The fact that no explanation was submitted is altogether a different ball game.

Both Posts of CEO at BBS and Kuensel are political posts in the sense that these two are filled by the Government in reign. Thus the CEOs would have political capital stock. However, is it in national interest for these two main stream media to blatantly disregard rules in place and make a mockery of the Agencies that are responsible to uphold Acts passed by the Parliament ?

This is the second public incident of BBS Managing Director directly challenging the mandate of Government Agencies. The 1st was an order issued by Ministry of Labour relating to recruitment procedure lapses following a complaint by a BBS employee.

The issues here are not just whether the dabblers in social media or main stream media journalists and editors want to run the nation but whether a political appointee would ever feel the responsibility to respect the responsibilities and mandate of national Agencies. A lot depends on the Government or the  Cabinet that makes such political appointees.

People do not have to like the laws and can make efforts to change or amend but everyone especially in responsible positions must comply with existing laws or face the consequences of paying penalties in cash or prison. And anyone willing to go to prison for his and her belief has a chance of becoming a hero but anyone going to prison for misdeeds is a criminal. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hema Hema or Hgi-ngen Hgi- ngen.

A movie Hema Hema meaning Long long ago. Initially I thought it meant Bamboo Bamboo  ( Hima Hima). The social media and print media carries the story of its banning in Bhutan. So there may be some element of Hgi-ngen Hgi-ngen meaning Insolence Insolence theme that is unpalatable to the Bhutanese official sense of culture and religion.

The Director is venerable Dzongsar Khentse Rimpoche who is well known , intelligent and articulate.The Rimpoche is also a vocal  political and social commentator. The Producer seems to be also an able man. And  BICMA has its  mandate and professionalism.
So the two Parties involved are at par in their abilities and hopefully sense of national and commercial  responsibilities.   And each side would know the context and nature of the film which I have not seen but is said to be a critic delight.

For sure the interest of average movie goer would be different from spiritual followers or faithfuls of Dzongsar Khentse. And the yardstick that  BICMA officials apply to review a movie would be different from that of general movie critics.

In the end what matters is what motivated  the producer and the director to make the movie and what prompted BICMA to bar it in Bhutan. Only the two Parties involved would really be privy to their inner motives and honest reasons. As a third party, I do not take sides based on being or not being a spiritual follower of the venerable Rimpoche. Nor as  a sympathiser or antagonist of BICMA. I favour freedom of expression exercised with reasonable responsibility. What I feel comfortable is that both the movie Director and Producer have the ability to articulate their own thoughts and motives and  BICMA it's own  reasons for the  decision arrived at.

It is not for me to attack BICMA simply because I read many  disagreeing with the decision. Nor do I cast doubt on the intent of the movie makers because BICMA has banned it. Things happen without anyone planning such a consequence. Sometimes one has to move forward and put unpleasant incidents behind.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Education Conference and Ministry of Education.

1. Shortening Winter School Break to 45 days and increasing Summer Breaks to 31days. Only those who experience physically the severity of Winter harshness will feel how wrong and inconvenient the recent decision is. A nation cannot heat up the whole winter weather can it ( talking of providing heaters in schools is humorous.It will never be done. And also how about icy weatger outside classrooms and hostels).

Reading at length what is said in social media and the articles in main stream media confirms that there was no such thing as " endorsement of this decision from the hearts". It was a dictum issued at the conference by the Ministry of Education.

Apparently the Ministry of Education is of the view that the young citizens of Bhutan required to be frozen for two additional winter weeks to inculcate in them the  respect and dedication for historic occassions. The logic is terrible and sadly unnecessary indoctrination of very little value. As I wrote earlier, national historic days must be celebrated by all citizens young and old. People need not be civil servants, soldiers or students to participate and celebrate Royal Birthdays, Coronation Days and National Days. I understand organisers need participants. But respective Dzongkhags and their Education Offices have the capacity to invite participants including students on school break to celebrate by organising March Pasts and other Events. The Dzongkhags only need the fund which should be provided in their annual budget.

2. The initiative to provide sanitary pads to girl students.

As I wrote earlier, this initiative is most laudable and it is " a game changer for girl student comfort and convenience". I thank the Education Ministry for this out of box initiative of mass service.

There is a query about how costly the machine is and it's sturdiness and maintenance sustainability.  And apart from 9 machines donated, how is Education Ministry going to provide for all schools? It is possible that the social approach may have a commercial goal. But that is alright as long as ultimately  the sanitary pads are affordable by poor students and the quality proves to be good when put to use.

Dzongkhag to be main subject.

I thought Dzongkhag was always a main subject along with English. How did it get diluted half the way? Any way for Bhutanese, I feel that a student should be required to achieve  minimum pass marks to get promoted to the next grade. Thank you to those Educators  who pointed out that learning Dzongkhag was not the only problem. They pointed out that there is inherent teaching problem in schools including lack of qualified teachers at primary level and the need to promote  active teaching instead of sermon type teaching.  

All in all I do pray and hope that future  Education Ministers from  any Political Parties would stop fooling around with school academic sessions and holidays. May someone sensible and less self preserving education leader someday come at the helm of Education Ministry and do away with this decision to freeze students in icy cold weather at ill-equipped schools.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Civil Suits and Criminal Suits.

Bhutan does not seem quite ready for the separation of procedures for civil suits and criminal suits. Our existing Police Force  and OAG infrastructures  just do not have the built in capacities to do full  legal justice to those affected by crimes and also fix accountability upon crime perpetrators.

On the other hand,  the Courts in Bhutan have the traditional culture and experience of dispensing both civil and criminal justice as so warranted in the judicial process of a suit brought before them. Now the Courts are barred from acting on known crimes even when such crimes are apparent in the course of judicial process of a court case filed as civil suit. Ordinary citizens even though are the direct victims of crime cannot file criminal suit directly to the Court.

In this case of DPT vs Dasho Benji, the Court ordered the OAG to act upon what appears to be a criminal case of sedition.  And Kuensel informs that OAG will be acting upon the directive of the Court. However,  there was a case wherein a Dzongkhag Court had rejected a suit filed because it was of criminal nature and that the plaintiff was not the recognised authority to file criminal suit. However, the Court did not issue the judicial directive to OAG to process the case. And so far I am not aware whether Police or OAG are acting on their own to process that suit that was declared by a Court to be of criminal nature.  Thus victims can be left unattended and  perpetrators at large because  of a blind spot in the Judiciary  procedural system.

In such physical laguna or legal lacuna created by the separation of process for civil suit and criminal suit, the victims face isolation and injustice. The Police and OAG can choose whether to process demed criminal case or not. The interpretation of the Laws of the Land is upto the Royal Bhutan Police and the Office Of Attorney General not the Courts of Justice. It is in their power to decide whether the cases warrant judicial process under the Laws of the Land. This leeway in a way can be subjected to push and pull of influential bodies.

The Judiciary of Bhutan may have to  develop a more transparent justice procedural and dispensing system. There has to be more ways than just Police and OAG to seek justice for  deemed victims of crime and dispense justice upon deemed crime perpetrators.

Let me cite two examples of deficiency in infratructure capacity and short circuiting process of justice by avoiding judicial process.

1. The case of 19th July 2013 video about alleged DPT crime deed  which the Thimphu Dzongkhag Court Bench V has now directed OAG to investigate and judicially process.

The Royal Bhutan Police Crime Branch or Legal Investigation Department and OAG should have acted upon from the day this incident took place if this was an act of criminal nature ( sedition). They failed because these  Agencies do not possess the human resource, the necessary means and the legal and official culture to act upon or against  such incidents/ events. When they are unable to respond to such a national case as sedition, how could they be prepared to respond to the plight of victims of crime who do not enjoy national or social status?

2. The ongoing tussle between OAG and ACC.

During DPT Government time,  the ACC could take up prosecution in a Court of Law even if OAG refused to process cases forwarded by ACC. Now Supreme Court Ruling may prevent ACC from directly approaching the Court of Law.

For better or worse, in a small society where civilian institutions are dependent on political good wills and are also handicapped in many ways, maybe access to Court of law for deemed crime victims/ ACC cases should not be totally restricted to only Royal Bhutan Police and Office of Attorney General.

Let a Special Court decide through a Preliminary Hearing from lawyers of OAG and ACC or private litigants  whether the ACC cases or the suits brought in by other Plaintiffs have an appearance of criminal nature. If so for ACC cases,  OAG must be judicially directed by the Special  Court to judicially process the case.  And in case of suits brought about by aggrieved citizens , the Royal Bhutan Police can be judicially directed to process the case for submission to OAG for prosecution. That would  broaden the passage to justice in Bhutan. It would also avoid the appearance of political decision by OAG in dropping an ACC case.

The path to justice cannot vary so as to cause confusion and parallel system but neither should it be so constricted in nature to cause violation of the right to justice.  

Education Ministry and education reforms.

What started as some much warranted corrections of school  text books has now been taken over by once again talking about academic seasons and holidays.

Now Education Ministry wants to further shorten the Winter break. It was brought from March to Feburary and now to January?

The nation as a whole have joyous reasons to celebrate national occasions and such celebrations can be whole heartedly celebrated where ever one is. There is no need to time beginning of Winter School Break after the National Day on 17th December and start the academic session in time for Royal Birth Day. What happens if the 7th King is born on 15th January?

Both old and young would want to celebrate national days. And student even during school breaks are going to be within the country. The Dzongkhag Education Officers just have to announce  invitations for participation and make arrangements. The students on holidays would love to have the opportunities to actively  participate in their respective Dzongkhag March Pasts and other celebratory events.  And all family members especially parents of such students would be so proud to come and watch and celebrate the occassions with their loved ones actively participating.

On our lips we carry thousand words  expressing importance of youth and education. Then we keep changing academic subjects, provide different level of school facilities to students thus introducing the caste of privileged and under privileged,  makes our schools the guinea pig for various Western or Singaporean experiments  and play sing song with academic sessions  and school breaks. Ofcourse the authorities have " All the right and great reasons ". Even Hitler had great reasons " to make Germany great again". 

In the end everything becomes " cha- le- ga". These capricious and partiality  and haphzard decisions ultimately mould the characters and minds of youth.  And what we get are confused products of rainbow characters and thoughts. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

JUSTICE is Legal Justice. Moral and Sympathy are not pivotal factors.

Very often you would hear people claiming to seek justice from the Court. What you hear and what the people mean are far apart in most instances.

By justice, your right and the right of your adversary should be equally protected. Example: If your adversary is penalised for his/ her wrongdoing then it is justice that you too are penalised for your wrong doing. And if your right is protected then same goes for that of your opponent under justice.

When people say they are seeking justice in most instances they mean that  they are demanding that the Court take into account only their submissions and give cognisance only to their side of the case. The opponent/ adversary/ opposition must be declared guilty no matter what submissions they make. That is not justice. What people are seeking is backing from the Court regardless of whether they deserve backing or not as per law.

The Courts do not make laws. The Courts interpret Laws and are required to arrive at decisions/ verdicts which meet the standards dictated by the laws in force. Sympathy and morality cannot be the central basis of Justice. The laws provide the foundation of Justice.   So Courts generally issue verdict in accordance with the laws in force and  based on evidences and other submissions. Thus evidences in form of written statements, agreements, authentic documents and witnesses are crucial especially in cases wherein the primary person ( absconding, death, paralysed etc. ) cannot be cross examined.

At times it is possible that some people do not receive full justice. And guilty people are let off with light sentences or not so guilty heavily penalised. Neither are proper justice but it happens.

Let me cite 2 court verdicts related to rape charges. Rape cases are more straight forward becauses the culprit and victim is easily defined. So here one can better weigh out the scale of Justice.   In other cases like divorce settlements, property disputes or loan recovery cases, it is never what it appears to the bystanders. The cases are very complex and one has to be fully involved or aware of all details to determine who is who and what really is and what is not. Often no one party is completely wrong or right. So verdict have to be based on  irrefutable evidences and witnesses or undisputed claims.

1.  Several years back there was a rape case in a Dzongkhag Court in Central Bhutan. The victim was a 65 year old woman living alone. Two young men turned off the lights (main switch was outside) before entering her house in the night.  And the helpless elderly woman was raped at their leisure. As they were from the same village, the rapists were known to her. The victim filed a court case. The verdict was 2 years 6 months prison term for one man and the other 18 months. Somehow somebody influential decided that only one person could have committed rape and the other only assisting in pinning down the elderly lady to submission. It is possible that both the rapists got away without ever serving the actual prison terms. Those days compounding was permissible for criminal sentences below 3 years. 

2. In another alleged rape case that occurred in Thimphu and much before the above cited case in Central Bhutan,  several men got non compoundable 5 to  9 years prison term for attempted rape. A  lady had accompanied a soldier driver late in the night to the garage where he was required to keep the vehicle parked for the night. They had sex in the vehicle as the married driver could not take the lady to his nearby residence. Later, his male colleagues who were around also approached the same woman for sexual favour. She refused and they tried to corral her  by force. Fortunately, her fearful cry of protest  attracted others and rape was prevented. However, it became a widely talked about incident. Maybe the publicity created around the case was partly responsible for the rather heavy  penaly for the intended but not committed rape crime.     

It is possible that few verdicts of court cases are partly influenced by publicity or powerful backup forces. We live in a society and social forces  play influencing parts in the arbitration process and the outcome of a particular case. However, it would be very, very rare whereby an innocent party is declared fully guilty or  wrongdoers are declared completely innocent. But degree of penalties can vary depending on circumstances that actually should not have legal bearings upon cases under judicial process. 

One must also know that Judges have certain leeways in deciding the quantum of penalty. This is built into the laws. So it cannot be construed as injustice.

Example: Suppose as per law, a guilty verdict warrants a minimum of 1 month to a maximum of 1 year prison term. If you had not cared a dam about the case or were rudely manipulative during the judicial proceess, if found  guilty, you may probably receive the full maximum penalty of 12 months. And in the event,  you had behaved decently and had cooperated during the judicial process, the judge  might deduce that there is still some goodness in you and decide on the minimum one month prison term. This is part of Justice not injustice because there are ways to seek redemption even during judicial process.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New year 1st January, 2017, frank random thoughts on social and political aspects in Bhutan and in life.

New year 1st January, 2017, frank random thoughts on social and political aspects in Bhutan and in life.

1. You actually can serve yourself, the Nation, the People and the King through working honestly hard to move forward in life;  respecting other's human rights and material belongings and public property;  or even by simple things like not spitting out doma juice or getting rid of your unwanted things or rubbishes in proper ways. But this way, no one will notice your service to the Tsawa Sum.

2. So to move forward in life quite a many may have still have to resort to noticeable acts that serve  self beneficial deeds. Recite Tsawa Sum like a mantra in every inbetween sentences, stand by the boss not by official or national responsibility, enrich through every legal, illegal or favouritism/chamchagiri ways. Social and political circumstances can be very compelling. It's not so sinful so forgive yourself in dreams.

3. The most emotional and social issue for affected families may still be citizenship. It may  be the most sensitive and delicate matter for the authority also. The authority just cannot afford to give citizenship to wrong persons. It is not like justice where the saying is,"  better to let go 100 criminals than convict one innocent".  We may be in a kind of ironic situation where it may be practically easier for a socially well connected complete foreign strangers of white race with few years Bhutan residency to qualify for Bhutanese citizenship than a child given birth by an original Bhutanese mother in Bhutan. Be the child a fruit of one night stand with untraceable  father or  through long  relationship with a partner of deemed different national.

3. Citizendhip is so crucial in the life of a new born or an adult. My one hope of 2017 is that  Bhutanese as a society  spare kind thoughts for the child of a Bhutanese mother or father even as official processes goes on for grant of citizenship. I deeply feel that rightful citizenship could depend on birth perception than actual status in the eyes of the nations and people in general not just in Bhutan and Bhutanese.  For example Mr. Michael Rutland I believe has Bhutanese citizenship and he does faithfully wear the gho the traditional male Bhutanese attire.  But did those facts convince the Prince and Princess of Britain on visit to Bhutan that Michael Rutland was Bhutanese or more importantly could he a born British feel that their Royal Highness were Royal members of a foreign Country. Sorry Sir for citing your case as an example. Just appeared to be an effective citation to stroke deep inner conscience debate ( possibly  to buy sympathy)  for stranded offspring cases of Bhutanese parentage. 

4. In democracy, political legitimacy is more important than any other form of status. Life was more straight forward under absolute Monarchy in Bhutan. That is why today there is a rush to get registered as Political Party, as an NGO and Media Agencies or media person. All these are important world recognised forums/ entity to get views across and assert rights of whatever under the sun. But in the life of a nation that's not everything. It is possible to exercise your democratic voice even as an individual citizen though it is mountain hard. However, one process is real taboo. There is no goodness of service in conducting nation hate missions out to malign all of national institutions as a goal of achieving personal vendatta and to gain social media self fame or ill fame. In the end sincerity and real facts matter more than capability to make social media waves  or damage the nation in some aspects. Hurting the nation wrongfully or even rightfully do not make Bhutan or  Bhutanese life better.  Politics is important, voicing out thoughts are necessary but it is self defeating to accept politics as centre of everything and prostitute citizen principles in pursuit of selfish gains. And worse is seeking foreign assistance/ influence especially of Media or Agencies to settle deemed personal or national  grievances. It should be possible for Bhutanese to bring about progressive changes in any domain  with sincere efforts of Bhutanese origin and nature.

5. In a nation, the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary are indispensable institutions of democratic governance. If as a citizen one find it difficult to cope ( for reasons of birth, different political party or social leaning) with the demands or attitude of those in present command then develop more courage and capacity to weather through their term. Foul mouthing the whole nation and institutions  does no good to any Bhutanese. Seek courage not drama, display wisdom not hysteria. 

6. Ideally the rich and powerful would want the nation to operate on their terms; a lawyer would want a judge of his/ her choice to arbitrate a case; every litigant and defendant would want to win the case but none of these are worthy of moral considerations though one cannot condemn such human desires. However, as a society, it should be possible to sincerely respect the wish of every hard working student to top his/ her class though one knows that it is well neigh impossible. Appreciate and support just for the endeavour and the noble goal. 

7. Fear is predominant in every aspect of life. There is no fearless person only courageous.  Life does not turn out to be so easy even for those seemingly well placed. Taking a leap of faith, walking alone in the dark though scared or simply hoping against hope for better could be paths to better life for ordinary individuals. Under any circumstance, keep that tiny flame of hope and goodness within oneself alight in 2017.

Respect All. Fear All. Most important respect yourself and preserve some self dignity though promoting self conveniences seem the temptation of paramount importance.