Lhab Tshering

Sonam Tshering has been sentenced. He’s been sent to jail for three years for illegally possessing 48 packets of chewing tobacco worth a mere Nu 98.

Lhab Tshering, a truck driver from Tsirang, will most probably also be imprisoned. 0n 31 January he was caught with 64 packets of chewing tobacco at Chunzom. He had paid Nu 200 for the tobacco in Jaigon.

Lhab Tshering is 24 years old. He is married and has children.

And after Lhab Tshering?


Facebook Comments:


  1. GeduKing says

    i have no words to express the hurt, resentment and sadness that this draconian tobacco act has enforced upon Sonam Tshering, his family and also every well wisher.

    i hope Sonam Tshering finds the strength to pull through this travesty that he is being made to face.

    i hope this issue makes it for discussion on the first day of the next parliamentary session. may god grant more compassion, wisdom and common sense to our parliamentarians.

  2. kuenzang says

    What a sad day for poor Sonam Tshering and Lhab Tshering. Every Bhutanese should keep their differences aside and think twice. Everyone knows there are more serious case than these two poor fellows which has not been brought to justice.
    Personally I don’t really understand what was the logic behind baning tobacco products.

  3. yes, i am sure he will be also sentenced to three unless his source is from Bhutan and lets see if it is from Bhutan, then how they act

  4. After lhap Tshering is all who break the law. As simple as that.

  5. @ Kuenzang, the logic behind banning tobacco is because we are followers of Guru Rinpochee… is it not? BUt my question is why religion is bothering politics?

  6. People should be punished for dis-obeying the rules. Let us not sympathize those who doesn’t respect the law.
    Bhutanese has been well aware of the “ACT” when news on seizing the tobacco product has been broadcasted often.
    Shops found selling the tobacco product should also be penalized as per law.
    I personally feel that sympathizing those who dare break the law are going against the country.

  7. When religion is mixed with politics we get a product called “Taliban”..Scary huh!..

  8. This is not justice. Sonam Tshering who has been caught with a little tobacco may be put in Jail to serve a sentence to almost 3 to 5 years imprisonment. This is not democracy! It was suppose to be for the people and by the people. How can such harsh punishment be levied upon such a petty crime.

    1) What about the officials who had cheated the government of millions in the Health Ministry scam, are they going to get harsher punishment.

    2) What about the guy who tarnished Bhutan’s image selling Bhutan Lottery in South India making millions, has he been punished?

    This two are my small examples. When you compare Sonam Tsherings petty misdeed and the bold steps taken by these people, whom do you think is a criminal here.

    It took time even for the constitution to be understood by the whole nation. How do you suppose an Act brought upon by the parliamentarians within a short time is going to be understood by every citizen?

  9. And after Lhab Tshering? Will be member of parliament who enacted the law and passed without scientific and research proof.

    “I pray our law makers after Sonam Tshering”

  10. Mr. Viewer says

    Words from a Non-Tobacco Person
    Its nice that our law-makers are vigilant on such acts and the laws hard as the rock to break. But I would suggest why make the law so hefty in such act where Bhutan is no more the Shung-ri la of yesterday where we were isolated and no means of interaction and exchange internationally.
    Remember what would these students, office goers, farmers become when they come out in three yrs for just bringing some packets of tobacco for consumption & are the parliamentarians who supported this regulation support the families of these victims.
    Well it is the responsibility of the Bhutanese to enact with the law but do you think that all the 700000 or so of our population has heard of this regulation.
    Dear parliamentarians, today is a silent community where the parliamentarians decide
    for the citizens… Tomorrow it would be the Arabic situation in Bhutan. Lets not provoke the dear citizens too much.
    Everyone knows the health & Buddhist point of hazards in the tobacco consumption but why have Parliament Buddhas…
    Arab today- Bhutan tomorrow; let not parliamentarians…

  11. Mr. Viewer says

    Democracy- by the ppl for the ppl
    let the ppl decide

    Parliamentarians- majority on their decision, nt ppls view- not correct

    POPULAR VOTING!!! Encourage and discuss with
    ppl nt popular
    parliamentarians decision

  12. Mr. Viewer says

    Will the parliamentarians send me the menu for my meals-Balance Diet as our parliamentarians are really concern…
    Its so nice… Is Prado nice to drive or a maruti van!!! Lets exchange- I`m sure you will choose the maruti van.
    Today Tobacco ban, if found guilty 3 yrs,
    Tomorrow meats ban, if found guilty 6 yrs,
    Then may be marriage ban, as population increased, if found guilty 9 yrs…
    Well I am sure our parliamentarians will even look into increase the life span of the Bhutanese…

  13. Zangley's Nephew says

    I am too saddened by the sentence of the monk for a mere 100 bucks BABA. God forbid that we are going to be worse than the TALIBAN regime if we go down this path.

    Please don’t make this a DPT/PDP case now. Be realistic and amend the act sooner than later to not accuse innocent people with small mishaps like this. We need to reconsider and we need to do it fast before people take to the streets for this harsh sentence. It is too inhuman and too harsh.

    I don’t know of my uncle and some other ministers. But I do know that our Prime Minister Lyonchhoen JYT is a man of feelings and can reason reasonably. He is our only hope to remedy this and rectify this and save this boy from 3 years sentence. LYONCHHOEN WILL COME TO THE RESCUE – I am confident.

  14. The Tobacco control act is 1st Pillar of GNH. Congratulation to MP for drugging all the loyal citizen to criminal in future

  15. I feel that the laws in Bhutan are just made at ad hoc. Because of this here comes feelings of sympathy when it is implemented. The people including some of the law makers themselves speak and oppose the law.

    This simply shows to me that the through study about the implications are not done before passing the Law.

    God bless Bhutan

  16. Law means law!.. if the law is not harsh people wont fear.

    That’s best example of the practical implementation of law.

    But law should implement irrespective of rich or poor!

  17. Hon OL,

    If ur wishes is to get caught of one MP…why wait. Just follow a particular MP who smokes and ask for the receipt. Why wait for the police or custom people to get hold of him. You have also right to ask for the receipt..if you really want it. You very well know who smokes…so please…go after him

  18. daganaekailo says

    Hon OL,

    I am impressed by the initiative of your party against the tobacco law. Please go ahead. The world will appreciate you and your efforts. Sonam should be freed.

  19. Gungtala says

    A desperate act on govt’s part to save faces for the tobacco ban which failed beyond any measure and now poor lad like Sonam Tshering has to pay for it.
    But its not atall surprising given that we have bunch of half baked MPs given too much power to raise their hands half asleep when passing any bills in the assembly.

  20. Hon Lyonpo,

    I highly appreciate your effort about the Taxation case. But this argument that you are putting in favour of the accused Sonam Tshering doesnt make sense to me.

    What difference does the amount of money ( Nu. 98 or Nu. 98,000) make? The cost of Baba tobacco is itself cheap…not even Nu. 3 if you calculate it mathematically.

    Law is law. The count of money or quantity of smuggled goods should not matter. With due respect sir, your argument in this case (regarding the quantity of tobacco and amount of money spent on it) is baseless.

  21. As clearly put up by the earlier writer, what has got the amount of money got to do with the case now?
    when the Law was being deliberated and passed whether OL voted yes or no, didn’t make any big issue about such clauses.

    Secondly there are many other such laws that need amendment equally as important as this particular one.

  22. karma tenzin says

    Friends recently Sonam Tshering (a monk) was sentenced to three years imprisonment by the Thimphu district court. Prior to the issuance of the verdict he was under custody for 6 weeks. Another person Lhab Tshering will soon share a similar fate. Both are poor and destitute…well in an interesting turn of event a senior engineer and an army officer have come under the radar of customs office for their alleged involvement in an smuggling act. However, both are moving Scot free unlike Sonam and Lhab who were thrown behind the bars the very instance they were caught with the contraband. It is a strong indication that the government and the concerned agencies, esp the police, are trying to cover up their crime because they are holding good portfolios. this case will determine the kind of precedence our government will set for all future cases…just because they are influential does not mean they have the license to breach the ACT….lets see how the Prime Minister and the Police Chief will tackle this case….

  23. OL have tried and succeed to be on the top of the government. Now OL is also trying to be on the top of the Royal justice of the country. Next OL will probably, challenge with ……god knows? OL is harsh and rude in doing his things, Damchoe must have been much better to be a OL. Damchoe uses the words that has dignity and values of challenging while not forgetting the rule of respect to his senior citizens. Senior citizens like Lynpo Zimba, Lynpo KW and Lyncheon JYT have been doing for us and the nation for decades. Even the hard stones and the rotten woods of our country know them their best contribution in silence. Therefore, we need respectful words no matter what the substance is.

  24. Pema Dema says

    Smoking in Bhutan is never a new habit, it’s been there for generations. If people should stop smoking, even the people in power including the royals and MP’s should stop smoking. But sadly, no one dares to stop them. And now I feel, we being the citizen of the same country should enjoy the same rights and privileges. We needn’t fear of anything. Its not a couple of people smoking, thousands of Bhutanese in various age group smoke. Therefore, all we need is co-operation from the smokers. smoke wherever you like, lets see how many prison cells they have for us and how long they will keep arresting people. Go on guys, smoking is injurious to health but not a crime in any part of the world except the land of thunder dragon where the politicians know nothing of the outside world­­

  25. i would say the work dome by the opposition parties were only to please the people, in reality it is fruitless, you should respect the laws, it is not made by one person, i am sure that you were there while making this laws, now donot blame the ruling parties, it is easy to find fould in others, if you are assign to rule, your achievement will be zero.

  26. some of you here speak bullshit; MPs do not represent people’s will, blah blah…..or how can a court sentence poor chap..blah blah…

    remember is law is enacted and already passed, and it has become one of rules of land. court therefore have to interpret correctly and accordingly follow it. you are asking the court to not follow the law that is prevailing. you are asking the court to interpret the law in your favour. don’t you think that is bullshit?

    you got to empathize all those people who are put behind bars just because they don;t have to money to bail out.

    there are people in Chamgang who are serving 150 years….what say you about that?

  27. ..and after Lhab Tshering, hopefully there will be no more smoking tsherings or tsherings ignorant of the Law. Without disrespect to the feelings of the two Tsherings, their families & friends, I would rather a law was enforced and upheld than see it fail no sooner than it was enacted. After all isn’t this an outcome of our so-called democratic procedure as enshrined in the Constitution? However draconian you may find it, it cannot be so more than the lawmakers who passed it and the people who chose them.
    Everybody is pointing fingers at religion but what about the impact on public health?

  28. Customs officials at the Paro airport caught an army constable smuggling in about 200 sticks of cigarettes on Saturday. He was flying in from Bangkok. The cigarettes were reportedly bought by a Drukair engineer for an army officer. Both men, the constable and the Drukair engineer, are yet to be detained.

    The case was forwarded to the Paro police on Monday but the police refused to accept the case. The Chief of Police, Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel said they cannot accept the case as it could be construed as infringement in the administration of customs. He said the case was not reported to the police within 24 hours.

    The Next Victim can be this high rank official if the LAW OF THE COUNTRY IS NOT ONLY FOR POOR PEOPLE…
    A customs official said there is no stipulated time mentioned in any Act for registering cases with the police. He said the case could be forwarded to the police only on Monday because of the long investigation process and the paper works involved.

    The case, he said, will now be forwarded to the Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency and the Office of the Attorney General.

  29. Dear Sangay,

    Our OL is not pleasing the people by bring the issue in this forum. More importantly, he is fighting for the common good.

    For Neutral- What difference does the amount of money make? I think you are as good as animal when you raise this question. Did you heard the legal principle so called Crime vs punishment proportionality principle which states severity of penalty for a misdeed or wrongdoing should be reasonable and proportionate to the severity of the infraction or crime. The crime’s level of severity need to be determined by the amount of harm, unfair advantage or moral imbalance the crime caused.

  30. Why did not custom officials did not report this to the police within 24 hours? I think investigation in needed to find out the possibility of collusion.

    And why is the Chief of Police not accepting the case? Is he afraid of the big fish? I am sure he is though.

    And here is when the OL should make his loudest of noise? So your excellency its time for you to blow your trumpet every stronger ..but I am sure you are waiting for the case to develop as somebody mentioned that it will be forwarded to BNCA and Attorney General’s Office.

    The media and the public should closely follow this case…it might be interesting, really interesting….

  31. “Law is order, and good law is good order.” Aristotle.
    An absurd- most iniquitous law… My support as well as sympathy goes to Sonam Tshering. It makes me shiver to think that he has to serve three years in prison for illegally possessing 48 packets of chewing tobacco worth 98 Ngultrums (98/45.016= USD 2.17). The first thing that comes to mind is how and who would pass such an absurd law. The Tobacco Control Act of 2010 has attracted great deal of debate and discussion in society. Some people term the law as being draconian, others say it’s unreasonable and difficult to implement… I, like many, have been listening to an umpteen number of views.
    I am disturbed by the poor judgment exercised by our lawmakers and their complete lack of pragmatism, which is clearly reflected in passing of an irrational law that is irrefutably in contradiction to jurisprudence of ‘proportionality between crime and punishment.’
    Yet at the same time several constructive outcomes have resulted in reaction to this law.
    Firstly, it has not only raised questions as to the objectivity and fairness of the law but it has fortuitously aroused great discourse on this subject. This is a wonderful development, to our young democracy.
    Secondly, I strongly believe that hence forth, people will pay closer attention to important discourse taking place in the parliament leading to legislation. The cerebral words of Franklin D. Roosevelt resonate well in regard to this subject. It reads, “Let us not forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” In our young yet reliable democracy as envisioned by our most beloved and visionary Kings, people must eventually understand that the quality of our system will only be as good as our willingness to participate. The first step towards fulfilling our Kings vision will be, to pay closer attention to decisions taken either by parliament or the executive in the name of the people from powers mandated to them by the people. The Tobacco Act and its rather impulsive contents is a reminder to all that we must pay greater attention. I shudder to think of a scenario where the decision to allow foreign land ownership in Bhutan is made- vis-à-vis the FDI Policy – and similarly- to allow private investment and ownership of mega-hydro-power plants. If ever such decisions were taken arbitrarily without any regard to the wisdom of the majority or at variance with the wish of the people or even worse if there was wide spread apathy- which clearly will never be the case in Bhutan observing the ongoing reaction to the Tobacco Act.
    Lastly, the important question still remains, will the Parliamentarians pay attention to popular opinion or will they ignore it? Or will they pass off their opinions as being that of the people?
    We must also remember that not all people have the time or the qualification to grapple with and fully understand complex legal text let alone be able to absorb and comprehend its relevance or its long-term benefits or even ramifications. So far the response has been brilliant and most resounding.

    Both, the arousal of great interest and solidarity shown in support of Sonam Tshering, and the momentum gained in this short period of time towards proposing the amendment of the Tobacco Act, all stand- testimony to the level of morality, conscience and reasoning shown by everyone. I am proud to be Bhutanese.

    The lawmakers must keep in mind that they are the representatives of the people. Proper and adequate representation is required from our parliamentarians. I believe that in a democracy the peoples representatives are meant to sincerely and with due diligence- represent the people. In our nascent democratic system, built with great leadership and commitment emanating from our wise Kings and with tremendous support shown from all quarters of society- today I regretfully admit that our lawmakers are making erroneous assumptions as to their mandate.
    A good leader will always separate his/her personal biases from doing what is righteous, suppress primordial instincts and show benevolence, magnanimity and wisdom and most importantly a good leader always listens. I hope to see more of these qualities in our Parliamentarians.

    My gratitude to the Opposition Leader. Thank you.

    I end with one more quote from FDR, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy therefore is education.”

  32. karma, I will suggest you to eat tobbacco, sleep tobacco and …. tobbacco instead of giving this shitty discourse on law, democracy and Franklin D Roosevelt. That way you will not feel so unhappy about the law being enacted against this social evil called tobacco.

  33. The Lawyer who will be soon taking up ST’s case commented to the Kuensel that the judgment was passed without even having a prosecutor for Sonam Tsher…ing. “No judge can pass the judgment without a prosecutor,” he said. “If he cannot afford then the state should provide the lawyer according to the civil and criminal procedure.”

  34. Your asinine remark is well taken…

  35. Opposition leader!, 2 cases of tobacco case has been highlighted by you in your blog and medias are very active in blasting news for poor people. But what about the the case in Paro! Are you not aware of that case! Does it mean the the paro case which the engineer bought cigratte is not a serious case. Why media and you are not taking about that case!

  36. @PaSsu – If you read the original texts of Guru Rinpoche they are clearly describing Opium not Tobacco – for one thing Tobacco comes from a leaf not a flower.

    @Bjokarp – The law may be the law but in this case the law is an ass because the punishment is so clearly far out of all proportion to the crime.

    If a man beats his wife in Bhutan what do you think will happen to him?
    If the same man gets caught with a few packs of tobacco what will happen to him?

    Which is the more serious crime?

  37. @Neutral –

    Tobacco may be a social evil. I’m sure most of the people in Bhutan don’t like it and think smoking and chewing tobacco is a foul habit. In view of this a law banning tobacco may be reasonable. What is not reasonable is the draconian punishment which is totally disproportionate to the crime.

    Since possession of tobacco does not involve violence or threats; nor does it involve theft or missapropriation of property – wouldn’t a fine or community service be a much more appropriate punishment – especially for a first offence?


  1. […] Lhab Tshering, a driver, was arrested for possessing 64 packets of chewing tobacco. He’s currently being tried at the Thimphu District Court, and […]

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