Book it!

“Far apart and close together” is an informative book that celebrates the enduring friendship between Switzerland and Bhutan. The book comes with a DVD on GNH.

Every MP was gifted this delightful book.

Did we accept the bag which cost Nu 1,800? Absolutely not, that would be corruption. Did we accept this book, valued at Nu 2,700? Absolutely.

Comment on comments

I don’t want to moderate your comments. Your views, as far as I’m concerned, are as important as anybody else’s, including mine. That’s why I have chosen not to remove – or reply to – any of the comments attacking me.

But, I cannot, and will not, allow personal attacks on any other person. These I will remove immediately (I’ve already removed a couple of comments on the PM). Also, every reference to His Majesty the King will be monitored – “…His person is sacrosanct” (Article 2.15 of our Constitution).

That said, I’m not a journalist. So I will ask BICMA for a quick lesson on defamation, libel and slander.

Meanwhile, keep your comments coming.

No to bags

The first item the National Assembly debated yesterday was bags. To be precise, bags worth Nu 1800.

It turns out that traditionally, members of the National Assembly are given a bag each at the start of every session. This tradition is not uncommon – countless bags and satchels have been distributed in workshops and seminars throughout the kingdom. For this session of the National Assembly, the DHI offered to present the bags.

Trouble is we are not allowed to accept gifts valued above Nu 1000. So the honourable members unanimously decided not to accept the bags.

This is significant and historic. It is significant because our lawmakers have demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, that they will not engage in anything remotely associated with corruption. It is historic because this is the fist time that “tradition” has been bypassed in favour of honesty.

The National Assembly’s decision is no small matter. And its message is loud and clear: don’t misuse tradition to justify corruption.


Resolutions for 2009

Frankly, I’m surprised at how many people have been reading my blogs. And very grateful. I want to thank all of you for your support. Whether you agree with my views or not is unimportant. That you take the time to visit and read and comment is important. And for that, I thank you all very much.

This is my final post for 2008 – my resolutions for the New Year. They’re in no particular order.

1. To read at least 12 books. Or, better still, at least one book each month. Anything remotely resembling a piece of legislation will not count.

2. To see at least 6 Bhutanese movies. And in the theatre; not at home. Anything on TV, naturally, won’t count.

3. To relearn my mother tongue – Khengkha. This was the first language I spoke. I forgot both Khengkha and Dzongkha when, barely 5 years old, I was sent to a boarding school in India. How best to relearn Khengkha? Spend more time with my mother.

4. To go on a trek. Will I ever be able to do the Snowman? I’ve been thinking about it for almost 10 years now.

5. To learn a new hobby. Dramyen? Golf? Gardening? Fly fishing? The possibilities are endless.

6. To keep blogging. It’s hard work. But enjoyable. And, even if one person reads it, well worth it.

7. To redesign this blogsite. Too many people have complained that my blogsite is too much like me – boring!

Happy New Year.

Running against corruption

As I left for Trongsa this morning, I drove by runners participating in World Anticorruption Day. The turnout was impressive – hundreds of people, young and old, women and children, businesswomen and men, and bureaucrats and politicians had turned out to show their resolve to fight corruption.

Today’s run was important, and it was especially significant that some politicians participated. I didn’t run. So instead, I’m writing.

Shortly after the first parliamentary session ended, the ACC organized a presentation for MPs. Our Honourable MPs rose, one after the other, denouncing corruption, vowing to fight it, and promising full, unconditional support for ACC.

The clear determination of my colleagues impressed me. But I reminded my fellow MPs of three truths: one, that throughout the world, politicians are perceived to be the most corrupt; two, that we, as elected MPs, are politicians; and three, that unless we, politicians, are, first and foremost, incorruptible ourselves, we would have already lost the fight against corruption.

Easier said than done, I’ve been told. But, much more honest and effective than all the grandstanding and rhetoric that we, politicians, readily dish out when called upon to fight corruption.

We’ve started democracy. Start it right. Start by demanding that our politicians – ministers, MPs and party workers – don’t just talk of anticorruption, but are themselves not corrupt; that they do not smell of the nepotism, cronyism, patronage, graft, bribery and embezzlement that todays runners ran hard against.

Happy International Disabilities Day

Today is International Disabilities Day. Our people with disabilities, especially the youth, received the perfect gift –a special audience with His Majesty the King who also presented them with individual tashi khadars, and a three-storied cake to enjoy during their celebrations.

I gate crashed the celebrations. More than a hundred people with disabilities had gathered at the RBP mess to commemorate this important day and to enjoy His Majesty’s special soelra. The students with disabilities put on quite a show, from “singing” our national anthem in sign language to performing traditional songs and dances.

The festivities reminded me of the significant contributions that our people with disabilities have made in a wide range of fields including healthcare (Sanga Dorji, physiotherapist; pictured here), teaching (too many to name), music (Lop Kezang, Duptho and others) and IT (Chencho, Kuensel’s webmaster). All of them have served the tsa-wa-sum well.

But the festivities also reminded me of how little we have done to address the special needs of persons with disabilities. The school for the visually challenged (in Khaling) has finally started improving, but we still don’t have a school dedicated to teaching students with speaking and hearing impairments (currently they study in Drugyal H.S). And, notwithstanding the good work of the Draktsho Vocational Training Center, people with physical or mental challenges don’t have enough opportunities for growth. Our public infrastructure and facilities have virtually no provisions for persons with disabilities, making it difficult for them to live and travel independently.

We have a lot to do if we are serious about improving the lives of people with disabilities. To begin with, the government should ensure that sufficient legislative and policy support is made available for people with disabilities so that they have equal access to the opportunities that other Bhutanese enjoy.

And one more thing, from next year, the government should partake in the International Disabilities Day celebrations. This would be a welcome show of support to our people with disabilities.

Meanwhile…Happy International Disabilities Day!

Why I’ve decided to Blog

I’ve started this weblog to:

  1. interact with people more effectively
  2. encourage open debate on public issues
  3. share my ideas with the public
  4. accept public criticism for my ideas and actions
  5. encourage our youth to be more politically aware
  6. start a blog before my children do so