How (not) to lift the meat ban

Well done, Bhutan Observer, for continuing the debate on the proposed amendment the Livestock Act 2001 (read their articles Meat ban debate and Killing ceases when eating stops).

I say “proposed amendment” because the proposal to lift the ban on selling meat products during the 1st and 4th months of our traditional calendar has not completed the constitutional process. So it is not yet law.

To become law, Article 13.1 of the Constitution requires that “A Bill passed by Parliament shall come into force upon Assent of the Druk Gyalpo”. And Royal Assent has not been granted so far. In fact, as far as I know, the amendment, as approved by the National Assembly, has not even been submitted to His Majesty the King.

So the government would be well advised not to lift the prevailing ban on selling meat during the 1st month the Year of the Female Earth Ox. Unless, of course, Royal Assent is granted within the next two weeks leading to Losar, our new year.

And the proponents against the amendment would be well advised to submit their grievances to His Majesty the King; not the agriculture minister or H.H the Je Khenpo – one will not listen and the other cannot listen.

But why approach His Majesty the King? Because according to Article 13.10 of our Constitution: “Where the Druk Gyalpo does not grant Assent to the Bill, He shall return the Bill with amendments or objections to deliberate and vote on the Bill in a joint sitting”.

My position? I’d voiced it in the Assembly and in “Consulting democracy”


Facebook Comments:


  1. Opinionated Bhutanese says

    In spite of being Buddhists, Bhutanese are in general meat lovers. That includes our esteemed men of God, the monks. So there is no need to ban meat any month. Those who think that it is bad/ sin to eat meat can do so but let others eat what they want. The government should stop dictating what the people should eat and wear. Instead, it should focus on other important things, for instance the economy, public health, jobs for the youth, etc.

  2. Right! Well said Opinionated Bhutanese! Our government has too many things to do, so much to achieve. To me it is not even an issue. Those who want to eat and those who don’t want to eat… neither should impose any idea on the other. So what will our government ban next?…. C’mon, this is 2009 and NOT 1743.

  3. anonymous,

    what feudalistic significance does the year 1743 carry? Are u referring to the medieval age? Would like to know the relevance of the year 1743 in relation to feudalistic attitude of our governemt.

  4. hi sonam
    im not that anonymous..but i guess it isnt important to know the significance of taht year..
    instead of attacking people who comment why dont u have your say on the meat ban?
    my voice is..noone has actually carried out how many cows and pigs are killed before the meat ban months ..and on normal months..someone should do that. if there is less killing before the meat ban compared to the normal months..then i guess the meat ban rules should sustain.

  5. sick of sonam says

    people of the likes of sonam will some day say even kings are result of feudalistic society some day..right now u are only saying about our PM…tsk tsk..pathetic people!!!!!with people like you i feel ashamed to be called myself Bhutanese.

  6. sick of sonam,

    Congrats for coining a lovely nick for yourself by suffixing my name to the adjective that best describes yourself. I can only wonder the reasons for your self-fabricated and grossly extrapolated post against me. I can only remain pathetic for you when people like you fail to sate a valid argument with real identity in open forum. It is beyond humiliation and contempt on your part to anonymously accuse me of ridiculing our hon’ble PM and the great kings which I’ve never thought of. Your intention is clear. You can’t achieve your goal this way, I tell you. Do it in proper manner.

    Where have I talked about PM? What are the basis for making future predictions? I am not only ashamed but embarrassed by your emotion-based faked statements for whatever reasons. Next time, do a simple research – get your facts and figures correct and make your statement. This is a piece of advice to reach your goal.

    With love,

  7. I think there are so many other important issues to discuss besides this. I don’t know if bothering HM with such a trivial matter is a good idea. I’ve seen people stack up meat before the ban months but there are also those who make it a point not to eat meat during those specials lunar dates. I think what’s important is for people to know the importance of not eating meat during those months, I think the rest would automatically follow even without ban.

  8. I think the solution is simple:

    1- Let the Ascetic Buddhist refrain from eating meat. Let nobody force them to eat meat. It’s their Right.

    2- Let the Suburban Buddhsit eat meat if they choose to.Let no body stop them. It’s their Right.

    How can this happen? Strike a balance.

    Stop the open air butchery IMMEDIATELY! I think I mentioned it several times. It’s a gruesome barbaric reflection for a Buddhist Nation.
    QUALITY CONTROL! I dont’ know why they can’t see the bugs swarming around the meat that’s hanging everywhere in the open air. Seriously, it’s very unhygienic and dangerous to eat. Why can it not be packed and seperated in the slaughter houses? I have a few friends around the globe, and they all carry some pictures like the one you have posted here. It’s a part of their memory from their visit to Bhutan.Do we want to give out that image? It’s seriously Barbaric.

    The government did the right thing to lift the ban. It’s the individual’s responsibility from here on to be humane and live to the virtues of Buddhism. And those who want to eat meat all season round, be discreet, and don’t hang your meat everywhere. And as consumers, demand for a more cleaner, pleasent and packed meat.

  9. sick of sonam says

    sonam perhaps you could exlplain what “feudalistic attitude of our governemt” means.
    this feudal word came about when people were discussing about the Trongsa incident between OL and PM and its quite clear when u said “feudalistic attitude of our governemt” you are in fact implying that. and it wont be long before you and your likes would say the same thing about the kings which is very sad.
    and by the way u just popped in to comment on some of the comments..not to voice your thoughts on teh Meat Ban ..
    so it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out what you are implying in your message
    tashi delek to you

  10. Sick of sonam,

    Hi there, Tashi Delek to you too. Seriously, I don’t understand your madness about my simple opinion or rather a doubt about that year. I could sense your fury from your vulgar post on my blog. Thank you for visiting my blog. I will once again tell you that it’s my personal opinion; it wasn’t a result of some preconceived notion from any incidents. I don’t judge anyone from some hearsay discussions nor I am interested in it. Trust me now, I am neither a fan of OL nor a yes-man of PM.

    I will not explain the phrase for it is self-explanatory. From the enforcement of fine on BBS for organizing panel discussion to the appointment of Bhutan Post CEO say it all. Got it? Now don’t be so narrow and presumptuous about others knowledge and intent which you have no idea about it. I knew this word even during my preprimary school days that it came about in early 17th century which refers to a medieval European political system. I am surprised how you make such a claim! How often I pop in and where I comment are all up to me, you don’t have say on it. Do you? Please don’t head in fury making all kinds of conclusions from your assumptions without basic validations. I think you are an injured snake, someone hurt you and you go on rampage attacking anything you see around.

    With love,

  11. To all the people u post this issue or point.

    Two things that cannot get along is the relegion and politics.. so there is no use in trying to find a meeting point in between the converging lines.. so guys.. keep u grudges as side and take rest and post in Bhutantime where both of u might find a best place to debate about ur intitutions.

    best way to slove this problem is to keep it silent. the more u bring in public the more complicate the problem become.. so let the people at the top settle it.. it is their job and not ours.

  12. please read as “diverging line” and not as “converging line”

  13. Why are people opposed to the meat ban? is it because if the ban is lifted, they will not be able to control themselves? to eat meat or not during auspicious days is a personal choice, a matter of your own beleifs, and principles. If you do not wish to eat meat, dont. why stop those who do not care? are we enforcing religion on people? what is the point of having the ban, only to have people who do not feel strongly go ahead and break the rules? i think the meat ban, like all other bans, was a pointless rule- because you can not dictate morality, or conscience. look what is happening to all communist countries.
    I think the law should only intervene in situation where the actions of one person hampers another. a man should be free to do whatever he wants, unless by doing so he violates the freedom and rights of another man. Thank you.

  14. hey…i guess we are really messing up our relgion with politics and i cant imagine OL trying to intervene on the ban lift. BE BROAD MINDED OL.Lets us not try to impose a TALIBAN like rule in our country. Please OL try to weigh the pros and cons of the meat ban and let our people have their choice of living.

  15. Dear OL,
    Please stop trying to woe our religious bodies and gain political milage out of such a non-issue. Let religion and politics remain separate as desired and not use politics to influence religion or vice versa. When we use laws to impose religious values, it is as the post above says, no different from what the Talibans are doing in Afghanistan or the Shiv Sena in India. Let us keep Buddhism the way it is – tolerant, peaceful and simple. Those who are advocating for the ban are basically people who are not aware of our citizen’s funadamental rights.
    OL, since you are a self-declared Constitutional Expert, it would be good if you can interpret Article 3.2 and 7.4. and convince us that you are right in opposing the meat ban. I also join some of the others here in asking you not to belittle the institution of monarchy by dragging HM into such rather simple and uncomplicated arguments like this one.
    Finally, it would be worth while to see the legal status of some fo the NGO/CSO actively engaged in politicking on this subject. As far as I know, no such entitities have been registered formally since the enactment of the CSO ACT 2007.
    Finally, the lifting of the ban doesn’t mean that people who want to refrain from buying and eating meat are free to do so and here will be no penalties for that. So go ahead, don’t buy, don’t eat, and stop creeping!!!

  16. The issue does not have to go to HM because the amendmend of the Livestock Act 2001 was not even discussed in the National Council in spite of it being on their agenda. Therefore, the meat ban is still effectively in force thanks to the NC and the poor coordination between the two houses and their secretariats. So, our men of God can continue to enjoy their meat without feeling guilty.

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