News that that land had originally belonged to poor farmers, many of whom are now destitute, has angered our people.
This is terrible news. It’s alleged that land was taken from the poor and illegally distributed to the powerful. We should be shocked. We should be angry.
Today, we stand at an historic crossroads. We can investigate the “Gyelpozhing land grab case” immediately and completely. And, if laws have been broken, if power has been abused, if crimes were committed against our people, we can hold the perpetrators to full account. We can punish them.
Or we can hesitate. We can dither. We can vacillate about who, how and when to conduct an investigation. And we can risk allowing potential perpetrators to go scot-free – unquestioned and unpunished.
Choose the former course of action and we will have strengthened the rule of law in our country. A serious blow will have been dealt against corruption. And against the abuse of power and authority. And the trust and confidence of our people in democracy and the rule of law will have been justified.
Choose the later and we will have undermined the rule of law. The shock and anger that our people feel will turn to desperation, and that desperation, eventually, to hopelessness and resignation. Corruption will rule. Greed will become even more unrestrained. And our people, who will have lost all faith in democracy and the rule of law, will suffer.
So we must choose carefully. The path we take will have far reaching consequences. The decision we make is crucial.
News that the Anticorruption Commission will look into the Gyelpozhing land grab case is welcomed. But instead of committing to an immediate inquiry, the ACC has said that they are not ready; that they need to first complete some ongoing cases.
The ACC’s hands are full. And there’s no doubt that every one of the cases they are investigating is important. But this case – the Gyalpozhing land grab case – is different. It involves our senior-most public servants, political leaders who still wield considerable power and influence. And, more importantly, this case, unlike many others, has already become a national concern.
But this is not just ACC’s mandate. All of us must play our respective parts. If we love our country, if we love our people, if we want to create a just society, we must fulfill our duty to fight corruption as enshrined in the Constitution, Article 8, Section 9 of which requires that “Every person shall have the duty to uphold justice and to act against corruption.”
That is why, as soon as I get to Thimphu, the opposition party will call on the ACC to urge them to investigate this case, not in the future, but now, immediately, and completely. And that is why we will study the case carefully, we will raise questions, and we will demand answers – inside the Parliament and outside.