Dressed to talk?



In our last poll,  many of you – almost 60% – said the National Council conducts its debates well. Very good. And, most of you said that there’s a lot to be desired in the way the National Assembly conducts its business. That’s bad.

Our poll results, incidentally, may have a relation to the respective Houses’ policies on live TV broadcast. The National Council welcomes it. And, the National Assembly does not allow most of its proceedings to be telecast live.

Even though I’m a member of the National Assembly, I’m inclined to agree with the results of the poll. What’s more, I do believe that the quality of the discussions – in style if not in substance – were much better in the earlier Assemblies, when the members, mostly farmers, did not have to produce a formal university degree to establish their ability to legislate.

There’s another area where today’s National Assembly is put to shame by previous national assemblies: textile. Bhutan’s rich tradition of hand-woven intricate fabric were celebrated and showed off, in a riot of colours and patterns,  in every one of the past assemblies. And as the honourable members sought to outdo each other, their wardrobes of fine silk also grew. I learnt that one member, a dzongdag, had collected 30 silk ghos. While another, his rival, also a dzongdag, had amassed no less than 35 silk ghos.

I’m not sure if we can, or if we even should, do anything about the quality of the clothes we wear in the Parliament. But we definitely must improve the quality of our debates. And, the perfect way to start would be to reintroduce live TV broadcast to cover all our discussions.

Our next poll is a serious one: is drug abuse already a problem?


Facebook Comments:


  1. While it is the debates that are important, I wouldn’t shy away from dressing nicely. This means wearing Gho’s and Kira’s that are woven by our untiring weavers who spend hours and hours to weave the elaborate Ghos and Kira’s. It is also a way to preserve our tradition and culture and beyond doubt it is the preservation of our authentic patters of clothing in Bhutan. This is also a market created for our weavers that are fighting a loosing battle to teh machine made Gho’s and Kira’s that come to our market from India. While cheaper clothes are important to be in our market, we need a market to promote our traditional weavings and the market is undoubtedly the dress at the Parliament and the elaborate ceremonies we have like festival, weddings and meetings etc.


  2. I totally agree. The assembly discussions/debates were a lot better before. Atleast, they were talking about issues that affected them directly and there were ahardly any vested interest. I really want to believe that politics is “not dirty” as most of us – and so does the world percieve. But it is also unfortunate that Bhutan cannot set or claim to set an example of a good democracy that stands upto its principles. Its as though politics has to stand dirty and we are not different.

    We are only different in the sense that we are newer than the rest of the world.
    And that is another mistake we make I guess- claiming we are special/ different when we are just like the rest of th world. We are only different because instead of admitting that we are weak we make excuses, instead of admitting that it is truly for the sake of people who don;t want the public to see how useless they are in deliberating public good , they say live TV is expensive. I would rather money was spent there than build huge mansions for the cabinet. or pay them less so that they could buy one less silk ghos just for the assemly.

    And i would certainly wished members put egos, personal issues aside and talked public interest.

  3. While I don’t know how telecast live session of National Assembly help to conduct good debate but it certainly promotes ego of some of the honorable members by coining words and exposing articulacy power there by distorting the real messages. It may be important to woe voters through sweet speeches but National Assembly is not a place to show off one’s speaking eloquence. Telecast live youp thea rang debate legsum bey jotump inna (does it necessary to telecast live to conduct good debate?) I may be wrong but I see it otherwise. I will be grateful if anybody enlightens me How telecast live promote good debate? Remember that those who watch Live National Assembly in front of television set till his/her eyes become red; sacrificing lot of household tasks can’t participate in debate. But one thing these people can do is to write in the Kuensel forum or any other forums defaming our honorable members for speaking against their vested interest.

    I am a regular visitor of your site and enjoy reading articles. I applaud your Excellency for having time to update regularly despite your busy schedule. Thanks.

  4. “But we definitely must improve the quality of our debates. And, the perfect way to start would be to reintroduce live TV broadcast to cover all our discussions.”?????????
    I am sorry but I don’t see any positive correlation between “quality of debates” and “live TV broadcast”. If your quality of debates means eloquence, then I think there is. I hope you are not making certain decision based on such logic.

    • freewill says

      Your excellency,
      Can you please contact this newspaper and let them know that they are reporting only one side of the story.


      • Country's Right says

        1. The “Bhutanese” refugees are actually Indian Nepalese & Nepal Nepalese who moved to Southern Bhutan very recently. Bhutan considered these Nepalese illegal immigrants in mid 1980’s just like any country in the world would due to concerns deported most of them. Many are still in the country.

        2. I know for sure that many of these “Bhutanese” refugees have never been to Bhutan They are Nepalese lying their way into UCHCR’s refugee camp – for a chance to resettle in USA or Canada and it is their dream come true. There is no reason to feel pity on them. Recently I met some so called resettled Bhutanese refugees (some in their 60’s)in the USA and I did talk to them. They do claim that they are refugees resettled from Bhutan but they did not know any Dzongkha or did not know anything about Bhutan. Not even the places in Bhutan. They told me honestly that they were trained at the refugee camp about Bhutan to be ready should they be interviewed by UNHCR or other international organizations. They are Nepalese that linger around Indian/Nepali borders that did not have work but found the refugee welfare scheme profitable. Today, they are resettled and are very happy. They are also trained to tell journalist that they long to return to Bhutan and will return given a chance. But we know for sure that these so called Bhutan refugees will never return given a chance as they are very eager to be here in the USA or Canada.

        (This also reminds me of the “Vietnamese” refugees who have never been to Vietnam. These are Chinese people lying their way into Hong Kong’s refugee camps for a chance to resettle in USA or Canada. Some of them have since been resettled in Canada. It is hilarious to meet a “Vietnamese” person who does not speak a word of Vietnamese.). So are the situation of socalled Nepali Bhutanese refugees.

  5. aaah. last time i was in there i heard an mp talk about how “our youth have no manners they wear pants, expose their undergarments and their body…”
    Thats why i am sticking to NC for my reports, they keep your brain cells alive.

  6. live tv and a good/honest debate in the service of the people is totally corelated. I can think of several reasons – one of the most important being transparency. Transparency is the key to the success of a democracy. i am not claiming that without live tv they are less honest or transparent but there definitely is a room to encourage that. and as a citizen i get suspicious and concerned when such a decision is made. esp.after every decision has been made without much consultation.

    two, public awareness is important and news reports cannot necessarily write about everything that happens in the assembly hall. and therefore, people watch it on tv. as far as getting red eyes are concerned its theri personal choice and i think that shouldn’t be a concern. i consider that lame. i have the right to watch the debates if i choose and not watch it if i don’t.

  7. With due respect to the OL, I will disagree that the live telecast of the NA proceedings will enhance substantive debate or that it will contribute to improvement in the performance of the MPs. In fact I believe that it is counter productive. The less gifted speakers will get even more tongue tied.

    Talking of dressing in our traditional hand woven Gho and Kira, I agree fully. In my openion, of all the handicrafts in Bhutan, our textile is truly outstanding and world class. Our Thanka painting is another art that I am proud of. The rest of the handicrafts are rather shoddy.

  8. The NA definitely has to improve on the substance. Instead of debating whether to issue pool vehicles with drivers or pay a lump-sum with allowance to the constitutional posts holders they should debate larger issues concerning the the whole country. The quality of the issues raised reflects the depth of the person.

    However, I still believe that the university degree requirement is a good thing. Otherwise we would have long-winded flowery ramblings with no substance in the end.

  9. I think there is room for improvement for everybody. It is the begining and I hope members of both the houses will do better in their discussions be it in style or in substance.

    I am positive that members of the Parliament will definitely bring in new ideas and will always strive hard for the progress of our country. They will surely make laws for the benefit of the people.

    Even if they can’t debate and raise important issues properly, it doesn’t matter, our 2008 election had given birth to many rising models and hope our eastern people are gaining something from their sales……..
    the MPs in India are very confident that they some times fight with chairs, but fortunately our assembly is a zero risk zone…………..

  11. The last two Live TV panel discussions on 21 and 22 July 2009 were wonderful in the presence of Health Lyonpo and Opposition Leader.The debate was mainly dominated on the issue of ” Question & Answer Seesion” by the NC and Cabinet Ministers, so the strength of our written constitution was read and refered for public viewing over the live TV panel disucssion.. NC says, question & answer session is as per the constituion while the NA argues and have their own interpretations..Now my curiosity as a concerned citizenry is…
    1. I suppose the constitution was counter signed by our honorable parliament members in the golden throne and in the presence of our two god kings only after through discussion and understanding the constitution.. if so…what’s the problem now…??

    2. Is the Live TV panel discussion right place to show their own interpretations and trying to defend each others’ weaknesses…

    3. If such a Live TV panel discussion is the right forum to show their individual interpretation of the constitution that they endorsed and signed, we asume its there as we have not seen the constitution it…yet suppose we are not making ourselves fool

    4. I am a full time viewer of Live TV broadcast of National Assembly and such panel discussion and i would be quite happy to see more of such discussions in the days ahead.
    5. The views expressed are purely my own and Honorable Lyonpo may excuse and correct if any of my views is not at par in the interest of the Nation.

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