Opposing corruption

“guardian” entered three comments on my last post. All three were on corruption.

In the first comment, “guardian” complained that I hadn’t given any attention to this important issue:

OL simply needs to get his priorities right. When there are so many cases of corruption in the country, OL has not even raised his voice once. I suspect that somehow if he does that, he will find more PDP supporters who are behind all these corrupt practices.

In the second comment, “guardian” laments that no one seems to be doing any thing about the malaise spreading through our society:

Right now the most serious problem which is leading to poor governance is corruption which seems to have pervaded every section of Bhutanese society. Sadly, though, it was the government which kept on stating that corruption in Bhutan was at manageable levels, only to find out now, that it is a tough nut to crack.

Even the ACC it seems is not able to cope with the scale of corruption in the country.

And in the third comment, “guardian” persuades the opposition party to challenge the government:

Ol does not need to do anything, there is enough evidence as per the ACC reports that there is rampant corruption. OL just needs to tell the DPT government that he is worried about corruption and ask the ruling government to do something about it.

The fact that he is not even blogging about it very worrying indeed. Don’t you agree with me!

But it’s not just these three comments. “guardian” has left a string of comments, in many of my posts, all calling for opposition to corruption in Bhutan. And it’s not just “guardian”. Other readers have also voiced various concerns and objections to corruption.

Corruption is real. Corruption is rising. And, left unchecked, corruption could get dangerously pervasive. So we must act against it, individually and collectively. Otherwise this scourge will become irreversibly entrenched in our society.

But how do we fight? How do we fulfill our constitutional duty to “… uphold justice and to act against corruption”?

We can file reports – even confidential ones – to the Anticorruption Commission. We can go to the press. And we can discuss this important issue here, in this blog.

So if you know of any instances of corruption I urge you to report them to ACC. I encourage you to talk to the media. And I welcome you to discuss them here. This issue is important for the health and the future of our country. So let’s discuss it. And let’s do so constructively and responsibly, without engaging in slander, libel or malicious gossip.

On my part, I’ll listen and I’ll learn. And I’ll raise your concerns with the government and the ruling party, especially in the Parliament, the next session of which begins on the 20th of May.

 

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Comments

  1. guardian says:

    Great going OL. When you can move heaven and earth to protest against the injustice you somehow feel is being meted out to the monk Sonam Tshering, do you mean to say that you cannot question the government on their poor record against their fight against corruption. We thought you had more sense then that. The things you have written just confirms that you don’t want to do anything about it, as you probably feel that the majority of the corrupt people presently being investigated belongs to the PDP camp, otherwise I just can’t believe that you can remain so silent on this issue.

    I am sure as person who keeps himself up to date with international news, you are aware that the UPA government in India is getting so much flack from the opposition in regard to rampant corruption in India. My belief was that the OL had the moral obligation to take a tough stance on all corruption issues, especially, in view of the ruling DPTs luke warm response to tackling institutionalized corruption in the country.

    I for one will be waiting with baited breath when the parliament is next in session.

  2. This is a good opportunity for us to make our voices and concerns heard. Corruption is dangerous and if we don’t do anything about it now, it’ll destroy our future and everything we have achieved so far.

    As requested by OL, let’s have a constructive and meaningful discussion. Let’s not discuss in terms of PDP and DPT and politicize this important issue. Because corruption affects our common future and it doesn’t discriminate between PDP and DPT — it affects the future of our nation which belongs to all Bhutanese citizens.

    So let’s share all our thoughts and concerns. For me, the most important and the biggest cases are:

    1. The Lottery case.
    Like the 2G scam in India, I think our country lost an opportunity to earn huge amounts of revenue for many years.

    2. The Health Ministry case.

    There are many other cases, but I think it will be better for others, who know the details, to comment on them.

    Most importantly, in terms of future implication, I think CDG will take corruption to all our villages and political constituencies. Earmarks is One of the most dangerous problems that threatens to destroy democracy in the USA.

    Let’s share our thoughts and concerns and help OL build a strong case against the growing corruption in our country.

  3. Sonam penjor says:

    we really need to work on the height of corruption happening in bhutan, we always claim bhutan to be GNH society, but have any one posting here knows and can fight back. This is very sad, as an observer and following the corruption cases, most corruption cases brought in the lime light are still pending in the tables of ACC, ACC says, “if you care, you will dare”, but they need to know what they are saying. ACC seems less interested in the cases where Govt. senior official are involved. We need someone like Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare to make the bold step like him. From a business man to the senior officials, every one here in our country have proved corrupt. Bhutan is a country where even the brightest and the bestest human being once joins civil servant, they are made corrupt by the system. Wish we could fight back to the existing system.

  4. Sonam penjor says:

    We are with you lyonpo. You are only the one who can make a difference. We have the heart to save our country from Corruption, but you must be aware, here in bhutan, we make a noise today, you will be behind the bar tomorrow.
    Anyway good luck for all your plans to fight against corruption. We pray for your long life and good health.

  5. Corruption in one form or other is there in almost every offices in Bhutan-be it in government, corporation or private. We all should fight it collectively! There should be naming and shaming to every proven corrupted people whether it is big or small. ACC alone cannot fight the battle. It should be collective afford. First and forest, we should be proper system, rules and regulation to detect and deter corruption. Then the punishment for such practice should be very severe and stern.

  6. Corruption is rooted in our culture now it will be very difficult to get rid of it. If something like in Egypt happens in Bhutan, do you know how many people will lose their properties and end up in the jail. I cannot even count, but lets just say, almost all the higher ranked and rich people will lose their properties and end up in the jail.
    Otherwise how can you justify someone making 20,000 a month buying vehicles that costs millions, lands that costs millions and buildings that costs millions.
    So far ACC just goes after small fishes. If we don’t cut the head of just going after small ones won’t bring any change.

  7. sonampenjor,

    It seems that I maybe missing something, what plans are you talking about that the OL has in fighting corruption. For the past many months, he has actually been very silent on this issue, even after Business Bhutan was churning out story after story about rampant corruption in the country. So if you know about OLs plans, lets hear it too.

    karma1,

    When I stated that maybe the OL was silent on this issue because it involved supporters of PDP, it was made in all sincerity as I somehow found it very strange for him to keep so mum on such a serious issue.

  8. Sangay Tsheeri says:

    Guardian seems to be here just to hassle OL. If Guardian is so concerned about corruption s/he should be appealing to the government or the ruling party that has the power and numbers in parliament to make effective anti-corruption laws (like Lokpal bill of India). Why attack OL? What can he do with 2 measly MPs? Attack the government or ruling party for their ineffective stand on corruption. Ask the 45 MPs that rule the government why they are silent on corruption, instead of keeping on picking on OL. Guardian is barking up the wrong tree and seems to be planted here to hassle the OL.

  9. To quote Opposition leader’s statement on Corruption, “On my part, I’ll listen and I’ll learn. And I’ll raise your concerns with the government and the ruling party, especially in the Parliament, the next session of which begins on the 20th of May”. That’s wonderful statement and you are serving the nation by considering the concern of the people.
    So here are some comments on corruption. People recognizing their fundamental duties to act against the corruption, they have been submitting complaint to the commission of any suspected corruption offence. To me ACC though young has been doing great job till date.
    However, the penalty for those people involved in corruption cases seems very less. I have seen Dasho Neten Zangmo really disappointed with the penalty provision in the amendment of Anti- Corruption Act when our parliamentarians disagreeing to penalize all corruption offense above 4th degree felony. When govt. has came up with strong legislation on Tobacco, why it is not possible for corruption. Tobacco it affect individual and corruption on other hand affects the society at large. Corruption kills the developmental activities of the nation when public recourses are diverted or plundered for their own interest by the official entrusted unwavering trust of the nation and its people. With this, our govt. has all the reasons to have stringent law on corruption. If govt. does fail to do this, then it simply send message to the public that our govt. allows corruption to thrive in our society.
    So while discussing AC Act during the joint sitting, your hon’ble OL, please submit our concern to have stringent law on corruption. Otherwise, the statement of Zero Tolerance for Corruption by our present govt. will be simply a false statement that never gets translated into action. Simply discussing corruption issue won’t do much in curving corruption unless we have stringent law for this.

  10. I agree with Sangay Tsheeri. In every democracy it is the ruling party’s responsibility to fight corruption and citizen’s appeal to the government (party in power)to fight corruption (like the civil society in India led by Anna Hazare against the government). Citizen’s don’t accuse the opposition for weak anti-corruption initiatives but the government. Reading Guardians several posts here I cannot but help agreeing with Sangay Tsheeri that Guardian is here just to discredit the OL.

  11. Sonam penjor,
    You have stated that ACC is least interested in taking up the case involving senior govt. officials. That may or may be true. To me ACC though young has been doing great job till date.
    If you still argue that ACC is least interested in investigating sr. govt. officials you voice and make issue out of it. This is our responsibility or conferred by our constitution to act against corruption duty by the virtue of being Bhutanese Citizen. Therefore, don’t simply blame other when you fail to shoulder your own responsibility.

  12. Sonam penjor,
    You have stated that ACC is least interested in taking up the case involving senior govt. officials. That may or may be true. To me ACC though young has been doing great job till date.
    If you still argue that ACC is least interested in investigating sr. govt. officials you voice and make issue out of it. This is our responsibility or duty conferred by our constitution to act against corruption duty by the virtue of being Bhutanese Citizen. Therefore, don’t simply blame other when you fail to shoulder your own responsibility.

  13. soulfullist says:

    but what is corruption exactly?

  14. Sonam penjor says:

    mr. sonam,
    the very first thing, hope u r not working in ACC. Hope u are not campaigning for Dpt 2013.

    A commission, which is four years old and govt. utterly wasting time and money on them, do u really think they are young. The only good thing ACC is that it created employment where no body wants to join.
    cheers dude

  15. guardian says:

    sangaytsheeri and sonam,

    So when the government is not doing anything in regard to corruption, you mean to say that it is not the job of the opposition leader to point this out. The OL is an elected member of parliament and he is morally responsible to see that the government fights corruption. So if what the two of you say is true, why is he fighting the government even for the lamest of reasons on every other issue. Right now, in India, there are so many corrupt cases coming to light and it is only because of the opposition that the government has started tackling them. The biggest scam is the 2G scam and because of the governments inaction on it, the opposition parties disrupted the entire winter session of parliament as the ruling UPA government refused to initiate a JPC in to the scam. The opposition finally won and a JPC was initiated which is now probing the irregularities in to the scam. As we speak, even the then Telecom minister, A Raja is languishing in jail and so are 5 very senior corporate leaders. So don’t tell us that the OL is absolutely right to remain silent.

    As far as the ACC is concerned, they are doing their job as mandated, but there are so many obstacles in their way and the OL not even saying a word in their favor is not helping at all. As for some high profile cases, like the MOH etc, it is very obvious that some of them have very powerful friends in high places and hence the law can not touch them. I sincerely hope that those powerful and influential people in high places will stop there support for these corrupt officials, if they keep on protecting them, they are doing a massive disservice to the country.

  16. early twenties says:

    true, corruption is rampant. nowadays every newspaper is filled with issues about corruption, especially within our bureaucracy. in the parlance of political science, it’s called kleptocracy(rule by theft). how on earth could our literate section use the country’s revenue for their enjoyment when our counterparts in far-flung villages make a groundbreaking effort to pay taxes for the country? how terrible and heartbreaking it is to hear that some diplomats, the most educated lot, have used a huge sum of money for their purposes,which otherwise would have benefited hundreds if given to the poor.

    And nowadays most matters, including ones that are discussed here in OL’s blog, are swayed by the rich and educated with little or no representation from the illiterate. for eg, contrary to our educated section calling the recent tobacco law the most draconian, of late didn’t you guys hear that some gups in trashigang thought that the law was just? gups embody the will of the people in the country side, for sanity’s sake! democracy certainly is not about ‘rule by the rich or literate,’ it’s rule by the people. if we do not grapple corruption inside our ruling circle, things will go wrong; rich will become richer. democracy then becomes plutocracy, or what Joseph Stiglitz calls it; “rule by the 1%, of the 1% and for the 1%.

    anyway, i am optimistic that OL and other leaders will fight tooth and nail to grapple or at least allay the plight before it goes crazy.

  17. Truth_is_Buddha says:

    Corruption is the number one scourge of any modern civilisation/ country. In a country like ours, where you know every second person on the street and where you are related/ friends to every third person, corruption is a deeply embedded issue. It is also a much evaded issue. But there is corruption. And only ACC, with any sort of laws or legal teeth won’t be able to achieve much. However, to carry out a systemic and systematic flushing out of corruption from our society, we need to think 360 degree about the types, categories and nature of corruption.

    In addition to bribery, favouritsm & nepotism we need to cunderstand other forms of subtle but deep-rooted corruption issues such as administrative harassment, lax attitude, non-delivery of services, misuse of official authority, gender & social discrimination, not meting out appropriate justice, personal venegeance, etc… Bhutanese society cannot be free and fair until all social evils are also taken care of, in addition to the monetary-related evils.

    Until our generations, we have been tolerant and forgiving, but the future generations will definitely not take this lightly. And when they demand their rights or collectively take to the streets to fight for social and equal justice, our society will simply crumble. Therefore, let us all collectively work to end each and every act and fact of corruption to ensure the Bhutan of our dreams to ourselves and our future generations.

  18. SCRUTINIZER says:

    Corruption-a societal malaise

    I write this small piece of history not with the intention to emasculate people of higher grade and those in the higher position. Corruption practices has been the most unbridled one since the birth of democracy and the forms and manifestation of corruption are beyond explanation. Corruption is really an impediment to the growth of budding economy, social justice, and peace and even to the public interest.

    If a system of management is plagued with the disease of corruption, the burgeoning structure and implementation policies will give dreadful results. And if our boss gets corrupted, the subordinates will be inspired to follow it and the impugned area will take its birth.

    It was in the month of March, 2007 where the managing Director of Army Welfare Project was found guilty of falsifying documents of worth more than hundred million Ngultrum and the court took a massive decision where the guilty was sentenced to nine years in prison and all his assets that he had customized during his tenure was confiscated and later auctioned it. A month later, the director of Royal Institute of Management, Semtokha was fined and punished for officially misuse of powers and for exercising power that was detrimental to his clerk.

    During last decade, ACC had done a dire investigation for MoH where a procurement rule was not followed and there was lapses and acceptance of favors from bidders, flaws and irregularities in the tendering process. Similarly, our government lost billions of Ngultrum in lottery scam in Kerala. Bhutanese lottery tickets were illegally printed and sold million of it and the Bhutanese officials failed their duties of enforcing laws.

    We also heard and seen in the media the corrupt practices in Samtse Mining and Bjemina and very recently the embezzlement of cash in the Bhutan National Bank by its own staff.

    The questions that need to answer are how to curb corruption from the society? Does it mean that we need to accept corruption as a fact of life? Making forged documents, misuse of power, false declaration of financial reports, duping the innocent people, cash embezzlement are the most prominent corruption that I have heard from the media and I still remember the famous adage “More corrupt the state, more laws”. For ours we do have ACC given vivid mandate of curbing corruption from our society but it is not always the duty of ACC to take sterner measures in curtailing corrupt practices and the various leaders of public agencies, corporations and head of departments has the more responsibilities in doing this. The leaders need to remember the rationale of cause and effects and even the altruism. The rise in corruption activities is ensuing battle for us and let’s develops the precept that there is less room for corruption. Every one of us has the moral duty to uphold justice and to act against the corruption as per the constitution and let’s do it now and set the right precedent for our younger generation.

  19. Talking of corruption this was my earlier post that old ignored to answer. since u are now committed to fight corruption please answer the post which i have reposted again.

    OL, we really appreciate your stance on corruption but could you explain your stand on the following issues where u have kept unusually quite1.
    Ministry of Health Corruption case which carried on from lyonpo sangay and lyonpo jigmes time

    2. Bjemina mining case

    3. Samtse mine scam where wife of accuesd was PDP canidate

    4. Stone quarries scam by damchen and singye in wangdue and punakha

    5. Phobjika land grab case

    6. expressway case involving singye construction

    7. paro-chunzom road construction case including singye construction and nima construction

    8. namseling stone quarry

  20. Oye, Guardian does not know anything. She/he does not know the roles of the organisations in the system and many things.

  21. It is quite surprising to see the OL voluntaring to become a spokesperson of the contributers in his blog when it comes to corruption…..why?

    Is it that he does not see any corruption by himself or he wishes to play safe.

  22. guardian says:

    SP,

    So you seem to be one person who is glad that there is so much corruption in our country. Good for you.

  23. Dear Lyonpo,

    Whatever the world say or do to you, You are still a worthwhile leader. You have proved that even a single (or two) man can make a great difference, the only thing required is perseverance and firm belief in your cause.

    My sincere and humble compliments to you. Hope to see you more in action…

    Regards

  24. I would like to join Mr. druk to hear from OL on the issues raised and questioned…

  25. Govt can imprison people for few packets of ‘BABA’ and cigarette. why not people who siphoned millions, who take opportunity from eligible and capable one, who puts innocent people in danger through their reckless and vicious behavior.
    to eradicate corruption in our society following need to be taken care;
    1) anti-corruption law need to review and make similar to tobacco act.
    2) implement that of tobacco law
    3) practice un-corrupt behavior
    4) share responsibility
    5) Govt should talk less and make it happen
    6) leader must show example

  26. Scrutinizer,

    In regard to the AWP case, I have been told that the person who took over from Major Pem Tshering also swindled a massive amount of money from the company but was just ask to resign and no case initiated against him. Why he has not even been charged is a mystery. Otherwise, why would a civil servant be appointed as the head of the AWP.

  27. Hon’ble Opposition Leader,
    I will also join Mibang to at least submit my sincere appreciation for your concern and for your wonderful dedication and spontaneous effort made for the common good despite only members in the opposition.
    Understanding the role of Opposition Leader and then executing your duties with such commitment simply sent great message to us that you deserve the honour from the society. So keep going and we are always behind you.

  28. Ayush Mohapatra says:

    Corruption is NOT the price we pay for democracy. If you think about it, being a democracy is the only thing that helps us put our views out here. A democratically elected government is answerable to the people, through the opposition party. Yes, there is rampant corruption in the society, not just in the government services, but also in private sector industries, such as Satyam. But think for a moment. A lot of money has been looted with a legal check on power. What if we had no rights to say what we want to? If there was no opposition that points out the embarresing flaws in a ruling pary? The corrupt will have a license to do it in the open, and a lot more money would be taken away from each of us.

    Its very easy to say that corruption is unstoppable, and crack jokes about the corruption in India. If none of us pay a bribe to anyone, try to use monetary power to cut corners, this is possible. Government agencies might refuse to work without your bribe, but if none of us pay a bribe and he still refuses to work, the whole system will collapse. He will not be able to take it after a point. This doesn’t happen in a day, of course, but with a clear destination set in our minds, we can get there.

    This is not the first time there was a mass public agitation in the country, where the government seemed to be in power of everything, but all it needed was persistence and non-cooperation of the public. Think of our fight for independence. Corruption was much more rampant, and the Englishmen were in control of all our government undertakings. We got them out of the country. It is possible to do that to corruption as well, we just need persistence and faith.

    As many people rightly pointed out, if corruption was the price paid for democracy, communist nations such as China wouldn’t be corrupt, and they are ranked higher in the most corrupted nations list.

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