Acting late

Four years ago the prime minister pledged to enact a right to information law. The prime minister didn’t give a definite time frame, but he promised that it would be done “soon”.

It’s already been four years since the government made that promise. And we are still waiting for them to keep their word. Now, however, finally, there seems to be some movement: the Department of Media and Information has conducted an RTI awareness workshop, and the Ministry of Information and Communication has distributed a draft RTI Bill for public comments and feedback.

But all this is for nothing. The government has been inactive for so long that whatever they do now will be too little, too late. Parliament has only one session left. And we need at least two sessions to pass a law. So, in spite of any assurances from the government, and any last minute flurry of activity, we might as well accept that the government will not fulfill their promise to give us an RTI Act.

We, the people, will not have an RTI Act during this government’s term in office. But what we have is the Constitution. And Article 7 Section 3 of the Constitution declares that “A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to information”. So in the absence of a law regulating the right to information, we, the people, can continue to enjoy unqualified and unconditional right to information as an important fundamental right.


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  1. Things in general are moving in a speed that never ran before… No any other government in power will take Bhutan and Bhutanese beyond the speed we are on track…I salute every one of the country for we are leading ahead much more than what we were in our early days…absolutely ok but views can always differ and there is nothing to worry as knows.

  2. How many Bhutanese wanted RTI act to be urgently passed? Who suffered upto extent for not having this act? What inconveniences have been caused? All other necessary acts have been passed and RTI is not urgently required. So, there is nothing wrong in acting late in this case.

  3. RTI isn’t a major concern for most of us. For farmer in Kengkhar farm road and electricity is priority, for businessmen in Phuntsholing, solving ruppee crisis is priority. For low level civil servant in Thimphu, he wished for salary raise, for beggars in town, he craves for proper shelter and two meals a day.

    Who wants right to information act? Journalists who never write objectively and no sense of duty, politician who never have to head a single committee in five years term, for a political party who wish something fishy to be there in country to politicize.

    Mu question to OL is? How active were you in five years term? Did you draft a bill? Did you head a committee. Of all MPs, OL is most under worked and overpaid. Please show your resume as OL other than talking nonsense plus few sense in parliament. Dasho Danchoe did more work than you do.

    You never are part of Law drafting committee, you are never a part of policy making process. All you did is sit in parliament claiming sitting fees..

  4. Is it we, the Opposition Party, OR “we, the people”…Please don’t be so presumptuous to speak on behalf of “We, the People”…if we wanted you to represent “we, the people” you would have been in the Ruling Party and NOT in the Opposition…need I elaborate??

  5. Independent India got their RTI Act after 50 odd years of democracy, our democracy is barely 5 years old, so is their really a need to rush this bill through. In due course of time, I am sure that we in Bhutan will have our own RTI act, but will this be enough. Just see what’s happening in neighboring India, while they have an RTI Act in place, they now want a Lokpal bill.

  6. Lot of DPT supporters on your blog OL. Anyhow i support RTI as it is important for fighting corruption and ensuring transparency.

  7. So according to you only PDP supporters want to fight corruption, please try and understand what we have written in the right context, even the OL has conceded that while he laments that the RTI is not going to be passed by this government, the constitution of Bhutan still guarantees this right.

    For me personally, the RTI act is hardly going to change anything, ie take the case of India again, they have an RTI Act in place, yet the scams and corruption cases seem to be getting even bigger.

  8. Opposition leader, why you are so hurry for RTI? Do you think it is very much necessary for Bhutan to have RTI Act?

    How can government put up all the draft bills at one time in the parliament. Government need time! Don’t you know that government will soon pass that bill? Honourable OL is to much hurry because, as a concerned leader of opposition leader, he need to gain political popularity to win again in 2013.

  9. Mongar123 is absolutely right. What did OL contribute in the last four years? Even the people in his constituency are grumbling. He was entitled a minister’s payment whereas his contribution was quite negligible. In the parliament, all he did was he made refference to different articles of the Constitution as if no other people can read the constitution. Perhaps, all he did dduring the tenure was memorised the whole constitution. If the Constitution gurrantees right to information, why rush for a seperate act?

  10. mongar and observer, kindly refrain from personal attacks on the OL, whether he has done anything for his constituency or not should be of no concern to you, just back off from stooping to the level of the PDP supporters using this forum, who have time and again made very personal attacks on the PM and many others.

  11. Mongar n observer show ur human nature… Its high time to question ur self what type of Leader we will elect in next parliament. If serving Leaders are not capable enough…

  12. Sonam and Tsenfel, is this forum meant only for PDP folks to post negative comments against the government? Do other people have no right to respond? We know what you mean to say and we know what we are saying.

  13. Ol can continue to fight for right to information as you might need to find employment in a news agency after this term

  14. enough_is_enough says

    observer, we as individuals may not have lost anything without the RTI. However, having an RTI in place, will open our eyes to what our country(we) may have lost due to corruption and other malpractices. Having an RTI will also act as a deterrent for future corruption.

    One corruption prevented, is funds saved that can be used for our development, which will ultimately help every one of us.

    So, for once open your eyes to bigger picture and speak.

  15. I can not understand why people can not think beyond. Please wake up and be informed. I can see some of the people above are simply jealous of OL. From my point of view, OL had done a great job as an opposition Leader. If he keeps quiet and follow along the government policies, then why have an opposition. I dont know why we have to follow India for having our RTI. Without having RTI in place, corruption and nepotism will prevail and we will surely become the follower of India. If you are so much obsessed by India, I would suggest you can migrate to India without much difficulty. Here, we live in a different society under our beloved kings and they expect us to come up with a more vibrant democracy than India or Nepal. Aren’t you proud of Bhutan? we should advance ahead of our neighboring countries and not necessarily wait for 50 years to have our RTI. I would say RTI is necessary from Day one of democracy. My dear fellows, please wake up and see how we are progressing, Govt. and opposition instaed of attacking the PM or OL personally. In my view both of them are trying their best.

  16. ACC is able to freely exercise its mandate in fighting corruption in the absence of RTI. I’m not saying we do not need RTI. All I’m saying is, why OL rushes for it. There are other bills more urgent than this.

  17. “So in the absence of a law regulating the right to information, we, the people, can continue to enjoy unqualified and unconditional right to information as an important fundamental right.”

    OL, This is an assurance of a sort. We do have the right to information; that’s a fundamental right. That said, I do not see anything wrong in enacting the RTI. The RTI is an imperative in order to examine how budgets are allocated and being used in light of farm roads, to bring to light what are the main causes of the current economic debacle which is taking a huge toll across the board, and so forth. So, those imbeciles and plonkers who make slanderous comments and engage in disparaging you without the slightest common sense and discretion are making fools out of themselves. The RTI precludes every petty issue these plonkers are blabbering about, just so that they can shy away from real issues. Ignore these small potatoes.

  18. Sorry for personal attack but OL really should think first of his contribution to nation as a legislator he is elected for rather than finding bad anthill from ranges of mountainous contributions of others…

  19. Observer, you have every right to say as you please, it was just a little advice to you not to stoop to the low levels that the PM haters seem to be doing. mongar, thanks for taking the advice.

  20. I think this isnt about what the PM or the OL has done but rather what the first democratically elected government has down so far to promote democracy.

    The ruling government said as far as corruption, which is the root cause of collapse of democracy anywhere in the world, was concerned they believed in zero tolerance. Here “what the mouth speaks and what the hands does” not matching is so obvious that any hope of curbing corruption without a RTI Act is doomed to fail.

    Lets hope the next government will realize how important RTI is to monitoring corruption and democracy. I am looking forward to ask the opinion of our candidates who are aspiring to become politicians.Like in the West i hope our candidates are ready to get drilled.

  21. Your Excellency,
    Although I have agreed with most of your views I have to disagree with this one as I don’t see any urgency in the RTI .
    I would also like to see less negativity from you as it dilutes the failures of the PM and the government. More focus please.

  22. It is too early at least during the term of first elected government to have an RTI Act in front of many immature reporters who unfortunately do not have quality journalism.

  23. mongar123 says

    gnhaps, even HM thinks Democacry success, he must be having valid reasons.

    Is your idea of democracy a corruption free society? we can always try but it should be called utopia-cracy then..

  24. GNHaps, Failure of PDP does not mean the failure of democracy. No one can deny that democracy failed in Bhutan.

  25. Observer b mindful, both DPT and PDP are functioning well in our country. Non of them failed in any course in managing the govt.

  26. Then, why does GNHaps think the democracy failed?

  27. Hi folks,

    I think on commenting for each others’ article, you yourselves has become ruling and opposition.If we want a successful democracy,its not a time to personally attack PM or OL.In my veiw,both of them are doing great job for us.
    I would rather love to read you folks providing good suggestions to our hon’ble PM and OL.

  28. I guess Observer has no other work then to respond to the articles here… I guess he is paid by DPT to do so ….

    WHy do we need RTI ????

    Observer our Govt. has paid US$ 9.2 million (taxpayer money) to Mckinsey and company for fast tracking the development of the Bhutanese economy …. they are suppose to prepare a lot of reports …. (WHERE can we the public get these reports) I guess these are top secret documents held by the Government and similarly there are lot of issues which is shoved under …. we the people have to right to know… what is happening …. the fast tracking only led to the rupee crises…

    … airports are constructed, laws and acts are passed without any planning and thinking about the consequences and the reslut both the domestic airports are non functional due to low quality construction (3 months old run way falling apart) … people sentenced to 3 yrs in prison for carrying tobacco worth Nu. 198…. etc…rushing everything at once without proper planning …. Blegh !

  29. Paro Penlop says

    Now its already Up and Downs….No options….

  30. Tashi, Are you also paid by OL to respond to my commen? I rather believe that we have individual rights to comment. We have ACC, RAA, NC, Opposition party, Media and the public to make the government responsible, accountable and transparent. So, we do not need to rush for RTI at this juncture.

  31. AUG 11, 2012
    GNH begins at home
    A central theme of an article, I regularly assign to students I teach at universities around the world, suggests that, “people of all ages, races, gender, and nationalities must develop the capacity to speak ‘truth’ to power, regardless of the personal or professional consequences they may face by so doing.”

    Regardless of how socially, politically or personally effective telling people what they want to hear may appear to be, it is dysfunctional for the people, organisations and cultures where it is practised.  Unfortunately, it is practised a lot in Bhutan.

    The article is aligned with a book I assigned, entitled “How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed In The Back, My Fingerprints Are On The Knife.”  I could not assign those readings this semester, due to technology and resource constraints all-too-common at the Gaeddu College of Business Studies (GCBS).  I regret that I did not do more to provide the students with the wisdom, and practices they provide.  I am even more worried that social, industrial, and political leaders in Bhutan do not appear to be familiar with the lessons they provide.

    Thus, while the outcome of the GNH conference in Brazil may be leaving some Bhutanese leaders feeling frustrated and stabbed in the back – catching the culprit is easy – LOOK IN THE MIRROR.

    Recently, I failed to speak truth to power when GCBS was visited by a minister of the government.  He proclaimed, “ … the world will be adopting a new paradigm of economic development – GNH – by 2017, with Bhutan leading the way.”

    I am sure his belief was sincere, but I couldn’t discern whether his remarks were based on folly, arrogance, naïveté, false pride, self-deception, ignorance, faith or hope.

    Indeed, as it now appears, the Brazil summit on GNH will be producing yet another toothless UN type statement on GNH, which is greatly toned down from previous statements.  Clearly, as I expected, Bhutan and GNH’s fifteen minutes of fame is about up.

    However, there is a lot of good, which can come from this development.  It should awaken the Bhutanese people to the importance of “speaking truth to power.”  I don’t mean speaking truth to any of the countries, who sought to tone down the language.  Rather, the Bhutanese need to speak truth to their own leaders!  Someone – many indeed – should have been telling your leaders that they were rushing to the world stage to proclaim GNH too fast, and with too little to offer.  Therefore, I would like to practice what I preach.  So here is what I’d like to say.

    Come on Bhutan, did you ever really think the world was buying what you were selling?  The only people that naïve would be the people, who have never set foot in your land, or have been escorted around on neatly guided and well scripted tours.  At present, after nearly six months of working/teaching and travelling about the most progressive and developed side of Bhutan — call it the Punakha-Paro-Phuentsholing (3P) triangle — I will honestly say that Bhutan isn’t and wasn’t in the position to tell the rest of us how to conduct their affairs, or that they all needed to embrace an untested model of economic development.

    My students, who will be graduated by the time/if this is published, can readily parrot the principles and pillars of GNH, but few can engage in any substantive dialogue about the concept’s underlying assumptions, implications, operations, benefits, limitations or applications.

    In each assignment and class discussion, I regularly asked, “What are the GNH implications?

    The result was either a recitation of the pillars or stone cold silence!

    If this is the level of understanding of GNH possessed by the most educated elite of Bhutan, I shudder to imagine how they will attempt to implement even its most basic tenets, when they take positions in business or government.  Indeed, before espousing the efficacy and utility of GNH, a deeper level of understanding must be cultivated across the entire population.  Moreover, we need to ask and honestly answer the following questions about the state of affairs in Bhutan.  The questions could be framed as follows, “Does the typical Bhutanese citizen enjoy:

    • world class education from grades PP to 12;

    • access to Bhutanese-based internationally-accredited colleges and universities;

    • outstanding primary medical care and access to quality daily maintenance medicines;

    • the ability to purchase high quality goods, professional and basic services (plumbers, electricians, etc.) that are from Bhutan;

    • living in a residence that meets any standardised and acceptable set of building codes, and that is free from mold and other environmental toxins, hazardous to health;

    • freedom of religion or speech, including the right to assemble in front of the Royal Palace and call for an end to pursuing GNH;

    • would other citizens go to war to protect the rights of GNH or even monarchy dissidents?

    • living in or visiting a capital that is safe, secure and unpolluted;

    • expedient, reliable, outstanding customer service from either private businesses or government agencies that is free from bureaucratic red tape;

    • a government with substantially less corruption than that found in other nations;

    • living in a country that has near the lowest rates in the world for diseases, resulting from smoking, alcohol, or drug consumption;

    • affordable, reliable, speedy 24/7/365 internet access;

    • regular interaction with people, who hold radically different ideas and beliefs about everything, from the best football team to family values or social norms;

    • expedient and safe travel to major cities around the country;

    • breathing air that is 99.9 free from diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia;

    • clean and environmentally friendly restrooms/toilets in public buildings and schools;

    • travel and see what the rest of the world has to offer;

    • a deep understanding of the strengths, limitations and personal impacts of GNH;

    • easily exchange Ngultrum for the currency of host country when travelling;

    • the right to vote on a “bill” or “law” that selects between GNH and GDP as the measure to follow in Bhutan;

    • an environment, particularly in the corridor, free from trash and bio-waste that are regularly collected and reliably disposed in an environmentally safe fashion?

    The answer, for most would be, a resounding NO.

    So it begs the question, “Who is Bhutan to tell the rest of the world what to do, especially given that such GNP countries such as Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and, heaven forbid, the USA engage in and have institutionalised practices that are far closer to the practice of GNH than Bhutan?

    I have visited, lived and/or taught in those countries. To most of the above, their answer is YES.

    Therefore, I am very sorry, Bhutan, I love your people.  The warmth, which my family and I have been received, is second to none!  But it’s time to get real and get honest.  Please devote your time, efforts and preciously scarce resources to getting your own house in order.  You have to have something tangible to offer before someone can buy.

    Brazil’s GNH conference is only a failure if Bhutan doesn’t learn the simple lesson that both charity and economic development begin at home.


    Contributed by  Dr David L Luechauer

  32. OL, instead of wasting so much time on your blog, why didn’t you spare some time for updating the PDP website? Does this mean that you are only interested in your own and not your party’s interest? Why do you need RTI when you can’t even make use of the rights that are already there?

  33. Drukpa,

    If the article you posted was to somehow discredit the PM, you wasted your time. Since then, His Majesty has appointed the PM as the Chairman of the GNH steering committee, so what more proof do you need to make you accept that His Majesty has full trust in the PM.

  34. drukpa,

    Haha, you seem to be pretty chuffed when someone belittles our country, just because, to you, it means that it somehow does not agree with GNH which Bhutan/PM propagates. Please note that when you make fun of GNH you are actually making fun of His Majesty K4.

    If I were you, ironically someone who calls himself a drukpa, I would dig a hole and bury myself.

  35. I am deeply honored to hear that RTI is soon to be enacted in the country, but the biggest controversy i could sense in this scenerio is that comparatively India took 59 years (correct me if i am wrong), and Bhutan seems to do it so soon, so i would appreciate if our professionals and master minds would help me know the reason why so soon????

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