Public business

Members of the National Assembly met last week to consider points submitted by the local governments and MNAs for inclusion in the Parliament’s 5th session.

The so-called “pre-agenda” meeting is an important conduit for issues of national importance to receive the National Assembly’s attention. We must take the issues seriously as they are an important part of our responsibilities. Article 10.2 of the Constitution requires that:

Parliament shall ensure that the Government safeguards the interests of the nation and fulfils the aspirations of the people through public review of policies and issues, Bills and other legislations, and scrutiny of State functions.

During the meeting, the opposition party proposed four issues to be included in the forthcoming session. They are:

  • Review of the recently approved Economic Development Policy;
  • Review of the government’s proposed reform measures for the construction sector;
  • Review of McKinsey, especially to consider how and why they were recruited, and the work that they are doing.
  • Review of the Punatsangchhu hydropower project and especially to consider why work that can be done by nationals are being awarded to foreign contractors.

The meeting decided against including these points in the agenda, arguing that the MPs would require a lot more time to study the issues carefully.

Since the opposition party feels that these issues are both important and urgent, we have decided not to wait for future sessions. Instead, the opposition party will file motions to discuss these issues during the Parliament’s fifth session itself.

The opposition party also appealed to the Honourable Speaker to permit live TV broadcast of the entire proceedings. The speaker reiterated that live TV broadcast would be allowed for all important sittings, but not for the entire session.

 

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  1. Rajminder says:

    How much time the DPT government requires, despite 2 years, is beyond our understanding? When MPs argued that they would require a lot more time to study the issues carefully, I felt simply laughing. Many might ask ‘what have they been doing than?’

    I am beginning to assume that instead a substantial amount of time was diverted in studying about their salary hike time and again rather than studying such important issues. When they are asked to do something, they give a hell of excuses. In my view such studies should have done way before and get prepared to debate on how things will work out. But, instead, when it is nearing discussion they argue they will require time, a lot more time to do the studies. This is a clear indication of their preparedness and their seriousness.

    And I don’t understand why the Speaker refused to live telecast the deliberations. It is really important for us to see how our MPs are doing and this also shows their weakness and their inability of confronting the public because they know they haven’t contributed anything. Some MPs are ‘just sitting there bored’ also this is excellent opportunity to decide on increasing the salary behind closed rooms and we know you are apparently silent on this.

  2. Lobxang says:

    Quote: “The meeting decided against including these points in the agenda, arguing that the MPs would require a lot more time to study the issues carefully.”
    What were the MPs doing till now? Parliament sessions are not impromptu meetings. Anyways, when can these issues be discussed?

    Quote: “The opposition party also appealed to the Honourable Speaker to permit live TV broadcast of the entire proceedings. The speaker reiterated that live TV broadcast would be allowed for all important sittings, but not for the entire session.”

    So the parliament discusses unimportant issues too?
    Lame excuse to avoid scrutiny.

  3. mediawatch says:

    The DPT government, by not allowing live telecast, of all the proceedings, has placed minimal emphasis on transparency. I am surprised what is it that the government is worried or afraid of. The National Council made a bold statement by going live last session.

    The Speaker should have said, to rephrase his statement to OL, “Live TV broadcast will be allowed for all sittings, except for those extremely sensitive (Talking national security, of course!”

    And going by the agenda, we don’t have such issues to be discussed in this Parliament session.

  4. I see the quality of remarks made by Bhutan’s NA Speaker. What trivial issues will our NA discuss during its 5th session that it doesnt merit live telecast?

    I understand there have been debate on three of the issues proposed by the OL. What are some of the pertinent points that Economic Development Policy has to be debated on? I am missing on that.

  5. Tutu Tango says:

    As a citizen of this country and in the discharge of my duty, I, on number of occasion, had to play the knowledgeable expert on Bhutan’s investment policy to many interested individuals. It was at a time when the earlier FDI policy was put on back burner and the government was drafting on the new policy. It seemed like it took forever. The delay was due to many externalities, as I understood.
    Now the Bhutan Economic Development Policy, has finally been launched with much aplomb. Hearing of its release, I scramble to look for a copy and after much Googling, I got a PDF version on the net. Earlier in the week, I had read in the local media that entrepreneurs in the private sector, especially those in the construction sectors were not happy. This news did not bother me much. It wasn’t going to affect me anyway.
    As I read through the 40 odd page document, I began to realize that much of it was old wine in new bottle. In saying this, my opinion on it being bad or good remains reserved. I read on……expectant… When I was done with it, I wasn’t least excited. I thought the EDP was a half-baked potato served in haste. Much of the enabling acts, rules and regulations to facilitate the EDP is not in place. Perhaps, the authorities should have taken more time on this.
    Some of the people I talked to said that, the EDP legalizes the already rampant fronting existing in Bhutan, which suffocates the entrepreneurial creativity of Bhutanese. Yet others thought it was a manifestation of DPT’s manifesto..I never read DPT’s election manifesto…So I have no idea.

  6. Practising GNH says:

    I understand the benefits of live lelecast of the NA sessions. But I think we need to weigh the benefits versus costs:
    Firstly, is the NA session happening on government holidays? If so that would be an advantage. If not, will our civil servants who form the most qualified and people with lot of decision-making roles be allowed to stay home and watch TV? What would be the impact if such things happen like office people going to C/thang to watch archery matches. I would love to relax.

    Are we not risking by revealing all our NA discussions which will definitely touch upon our policies, strategies and plans of national security interest and foreign policy? The TV can be watched in many countries.

    Are we not risking allowing our Hon’ble MPs to showcase their oratory skills rather than content? MPs, as usual will waste time using all sorts of Bhutanese idioms, metaphors and “che-tams”.

    What % of the people in Bhutan could watch TV and how many would risk losing their business and day’s income listening to BBS? It will be an loss of economic gain, which at the end of the day is more important than listening to BBS.

    Would BBS better spend time on other issues – education, health, GNH, agriculture, waste management, risk management, empowering women, reducing violence, minimising road accidents,reducing tobacco and alcohol concumption, etc which would benefit the whole Bhutanese population and will also cost less.

    I am sharing my views as this issue of live telecast keeps coming up. I do not see any major benefit although people keep playing around the word transparency. Too much transparency is dangerous and there is a limit to it.

  7. The issues that our OL has listed are important points of national concern that require a healthy debate in the NA – even if it means faint voices of our two lonely opposition members.I would encourage OL and Dasho Damchoe to sensitize the public on the good, the bad and the ugly concerning the new shifts in policy and the use of our meagre financial resources.
    We are behind you OL.Keep the lamp burning.

  8. Whether people will actually watch live telecast or not is not important but it is very important to come out with some facts and figures to show that it is expensive to make this live telecast. Then only it will convince us and probably we may agree with their decision if it is really very expensive. But as of now, i am not convinced with their argument!

  9. If I make any sense to you, share your views with us. If I don’t make any sense to you, please decently put up your arguments. This country needs thinkers, not barbaric orators.
    *****************************************************************
    We can not deny the fact that Lyonchen JYT is trying all he can do to achieve immortality for himself and his DPT party. He wishes a second term in office and his DPT party to remain forever as the governing party in the house. That is good. We all need a strong and wise prime minister. We all desire a stable government but not at the cost of our democracy, not if that compromises the principle of righteousness in this country, not if that jeopardizes the principle of freedom and equal opportunity and, definitely not if that violates our Constitution.
    ****************************************************************
    First, he gave the MPs a second raise without a Pay Commission.
    LEGITIMACY: It is illegal and it is wrong.
    It is illegal because there was no Pay Commission which is required by our Constitution.
    It is wrong because the last time our civil servants got a major pay raise was almost a decade ago and that was just about Nu.150-200. As soon as these MPs came to the office, before doing anything else, they demanded a lavish salary which the Pay Commission granted to them after the recommendation was endorsed by the house. We have no objections about the first salary. They have done it rightfully but not even a year had passed by and they demanded another pay raise.This time they showed us their true colors. They didn’t ask the Pay Commission this time. They served themselves. Self serve!! And it was not one or two hundreds but twenty to thirty thousand ngultrums for each MPs.
    IMPLICATIONS: I seriously doubt if JYT would have agreed to increase the salary of the MPs for the second time if there were 50:50 MPs in the house but since there was only two Opposition MPs in the house, it’s basically like giving his own folks a big treat. He wanted to strengthen them financially because he knows it very well that if his MPs are strong, his party is strong. If his party is strong, he will have his wish granted.
    **************************************************************
    Second, he passed the CDG.
    LEGITIMACY: It is illegal. The Opposition, the National Council and the Election Commission clearly said it was unconstitutional. It remains to see what the Supreme Court has to say about it.
    IMPLICATIONS: Detrimental to democracy. How? The MPs will use this grant money to favor the villages and the people in their constituency who had and will support them in the future. How to use the CDG money is neither planned democratically by all the people sitting together in any of the levels of our LGs nor is it accountable to them. This means the utility of the money is entirely dependent on the MPs’ wish and will. They will build feeder roads, irrigation channels, set up water supplies and so on for them. These people will automatically be faithful to these MPs. The MPs can also bargain with the people who do not presently support the DPT party. They may build a bridge for them for exchange of votes in the next election. This is what JYT has planned already. He wanted his MPs to take this money and do anything that will ensure votes from the people in the next election.
    *************************************************************
    Third, he increased the gups’ salaries without the Pay Commission.
    LEGITIMACY: It is illegal because the Pay Commission was not constituted as required by our Constitution.
    IMPLICATIONS: Detrimental to democracy. How? It is open illegal buying of the grass root leaders. It is no different to a billionaire politician distributing bundles of cash as New Year gifts prior to an election. If the gups need another lavish pay raise, they better support this government and work for them. They will also help cover up for all the illegal and unconstitutional dealings that the government is carrying out by twisting the facts and providing distorted interpretations of our Constitution to the farmers and lay people. They will also deter people from voting for the other political parties, not necessarily only PDP. This is what JYT has planned already. He wanted the gups and the local leaders to be happy so that they in turn will support him and his DPT party. This will ensure votes for him in the next election too.
    **************************************************************
    Fourth, he is proposing the state to fund political parties.
    LEGITIMACY: It is simply illegal and un-democratic and therefore will be unconstitutional too.
    IMPLICATIONS: First the MPs are empowered. Second the CDG is passed. Third the local leaders are made happy. Now if the state funds his party, JYT will be able to create his own kingdom in Bhutan. PDP and other political parties that may be formed in the future have no level playing field with the DPT. I will not be surprised if JYT will assume office for the third term by violating our Constitution.
    ***************************************************************
    So, honorable OL, when a small tiger kills a big elephant, it neither pulls the tail nor climbs on the back of the elephant to bite it but it attacks the elephant by its neck. Hercules defeated the super giant Antaeus not because he was any stronger than Antaeus but he knew where to hit the giant. It does not matter what issues you will propose to the house because at the end of the day they will reject it anyways. It does not matter how much fiercely you object and oppose the bills in the house because at the end of the day they will pass it anyways. There is only one thing you can do that will make a big difference to our democracy and that is to stop the tyranny of this DPT government by any means and the only means you have right now is to file all the cases of violating our Constitution by this DPT government to the Supreme Court immediately and get the government dissolved.
    You are fortunate in a way that you are the OL and you have the opportunity to make a big difference to our country. You are in a position to make a legend of yourself and go down in our history as a legendary statesman who saved our country from the tyranny of democracy and remembered for hundreds of years to come or, remain a politician with a big bad mouth in a big square head and a heart of a rat who will open his mouth at anything but will do nothing that will threaten your job.
    Abrahm Lincoln is remembered today as one of the few men who did a lot to put the stamp of righteousness on America. I hope you will do the same in our country.
    PALDEN DRUKPA LHA GYAL LO.

  10. mediawatch says:

    BY the way, OL, will the MPs’s pay raise feature in the agenda of the forthcoming Parliament session?

  11. Tangba,

    To be sure, you don’t even make half a sense.

    This country does not need thinkers who will sit in a corner and brood until they release an orgasm. We need doers and shakers and movers. I did try to present my arguments in a decent manner, but you have been adamant about calling me names – so the kid gloves are off.

    *****************************************************************
    Lyonchen JYT and his DPT are not trying to achieve immortality – they have already achieved it. Firstly, for being the first democratically elected Prime Minister and as the first political party to govern this country and, secondly, as the party that set a world record by winning an election by almost 98% of the votes cast which is provably unheard of ever in the history of parliamentary elections!

    You got be even more childish than I thought if you believe that the Prime Minister and the DPT will not do all their damndest to win the next elections as well. In his place, I would and I am certain that if you had half the chance, you would too. Ask the OL and he will confirm that once he and his party gets elected, he will too! As to jeopardizing the principles of freedom and violating the Constitution, the PM and the DPT cannot be charged with those crimes until the matter is put up to the Supreme Court and it passes a verdict that they have done so. Until then, all that you say is nothing more than hot air and thus, inconsequential.

    *****************************************************************
    PAY RAISE TO THE MP’s:
    I have asked you time and again and you had nothing to offer by way of explanation. I am going to ask you again. You are stuck like a bad record saying over and over again that it is unconstitutional and illegal to give a pay raise to the MP’s without passing it through the Parliament. Please explain to us how it is so? I have already argued until I am going hoarse that pay raise does not constitute a structural change in the salary of the MP’s and the Gups and the civil service. From the Article of the Constitution quoted by you, the constitution or the reconstitution of the Pay Commission is called for only when a STRUCTURAL CHANGE in the salary is made and that too, from the wording of the Article, it would appear that it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to decide whether or not the Pay Commission is needed to be constituted/reconstituted.
    *****************************************************************

    CONSTITUENCY DEVELOPMENT GRANT:
    You are right there – wait for the Supreme Court to pass a verdict on its constitutionality or otherwise. You are not qualified to do so, neither the Opposition Party, nor the National Council nor the Election Commission. If they think there is a case of violation of the Constitution by the ruling government, file a case with the Supreme Court. The fact that they have not done so yet is indicative of the fact that there is nothing unconstitutional about the CDG. On the other hand, it may be illegal to pin false and unfounded allegations on the government.

    You have chosen to debate the issue from the illegality or unconstitutionality of the CDG and not from the standpoint of its moral or ethical validity.
    *****************************************************************

    INCREASE OF GUPS’ SALARY:
    Read my argument above under PAY RAISE TO THE MP’s – same arguments hold good here as well.

    It is inconsequential to discuss this issue from the point of view of what it will achieve and what it will endanger. The law and the Constitution does not provide for prosecution on such grounds.
    *****************************************************************

    STATE FUNDING FOR POLITICAL PARTIES:
    This has not yet been implemented. Regardless, my own personal view is that the state should come to the rescue of the two ailing political parties. I am particularly worried that the ruling government may resort of illegal means to raise funds. If such a thing happens, then the Opposition will be at a disadvantage.

    Don’t plead with the OL to do things that he knows is outside his capacity. As a sensible man, he won’t do any such things after all, he knows that he will be judged by the validity of his acts rather than his impulsive acts based on some scatter-brained requests from some wet-behind-the-ears Johnny-come-lately!

  12. Rajminder says:

    I was going through the Kuensel article ‘Keeping track of performance’ dated 20 May 2010 and I was not surprised to find Mckinsey highlighted very strongly. This is an open obstinacy expressed by JYT and his government in pursuing the project. But what disappointed me is, under the initiative to accelerate Bhutan’s socio-economic development (ABSD), the saving potential projected at Nu. 500M will be simply go to the Mckinsey consultancy fee of USD 9.1M (approx, Nu 432M) at the end of 10th Plan. The government will be striving to save only to fill the hungry McKinsey people! Something is seriously going wrong.

    Honourable OL, as someone has mentioned above, this is the time you have to act sensibly. We know you are totally against the Mckinsey project and host of other issues, but if it is left unattended, it will have a serious implication to our future politics and democracy in the country.

  13. Kadrinche Mr.Tangba,you have justified very good points & I am 101% agreed with your points…Tashidelay

  14. Dear OL,

    My apologies to you. I just realized that I have been so distracted by this ridiculously thick headed Tangba that I forgot to mention that I agree with you that the issues need to be reviewed as suggested by you – with the exception of the case of McKinsey. In its case, I get a very strange feeling that I cannot explain.

    Perhaps you should resort to public debate. What I mean is that why don’t you organize group discussions where people can discuss and talk about the issues about which you have reservations?

    Not all the issues you raise are deserving of support but certainly, those that you presented above do deserve our support. But since you fear that the DPT will not heed your call, you need to do something that will grab the attention of the public. The only way I see is by organizing a gathering where you present your point of view and the people discuss on it. Should you decide to do so, please let me know – I give you my word that I will participate in the public discussions.

  15. Practising GNH says:

    There is so much of debate going on and on on the same points and that is boring to many readers. I think the views of just one or two people are dominating this blog. Or is it that those people are the only ones reading this blog? I used to read this blog quite often before and I am now reading only once for such reasons. I am only hopeful that this blog will not become counter productive to OL and OP if few people continue to dominate the show without providing a balanced view. Some people are 100% against the government and I do not think that it should be the case. I think at least some good things are also being done side by side. Honesty counts a lot in a GNH society. People see through such simple acts which all make human values. So let us be honest and give balanced views, not biased views, be it about any party.

  16. Guest: To set the record straight, PDP received 33% of the total votes cast. So DPT did not win 98% of the votes cast.

  17. To Practising GNH
    I understand your feelings but you should realize two things:
    ONE:The principle of Righteousness is gravely compromised in our country. John F. Kennedy said, “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it” I may be making a lot of noise in here because I believe that only a citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable, and keep them honest. No one else can. It is not about brain washing the innocents but awakening the sense of righteousness that is there in all of our people and especially those ignorant and deluded people. It is not about spreading political propagandas to disgrace the government but informing our people through the eyes of an unprejudiced and unbiased citizen without any political affiliations and without any political self interests, about what is actually going on in our country, hoping we could help build a truly democratic, fair and a free society where people can rely and trust on the rule of law and help eradicate corruption from our country. What meets the eye may not be what the unseen reality is all about.
    If the DPT government listens more to the people without having the people to say it again and again, over and over, I don’t think any sane people will waste their time doing it so. If the DPT government is more open to listen to what they don’t like to hear, put all the issues of agreement and disagreement in the house, discuss it, deliberate on it, debate on it openly and transparently with live telecast and find a common ground that is acceptable by all parties and favorable to all the people and our country, both in the short term and in the long term, with respect and in accordance to our Constitution, I don’t think there is any reason for anyone to say things again and again. But the problem is this DPT government doesn’t listen to anyone, forget about exchange of ideas.
    The Opposition, the National Council and the Election Commissioners and many people opposed the CDG fiercely and on many occassions and by various means including open criticisms in our media but the DPT government passed the CDG bill anyways. The Opposition MPs opposed the salary revision of the MPs and the gups “without the Pay Commission recommendations” but the DPT government raised it anyways. So much of McKinsey, Education City and a host of other policies of this DPT government still remain a mystery. Is that the democracy we want to have?
    You see, the four issues proposed by the Opposition to the forthcoming session of our National Assembly are out rightly rejected.Do you think that is right? And what justification they give us: they will require a lot more time to study!! Isn’t that what they are supposed to do in the first place? Isn’t that their job? Isn’t that the reason our people elected them to the National Assembly to study the issues of national importance and make legislations accordingly to protect the general interest of our people and our country at large? I am just shocked. They could have at least accepted one of the proposals but they rejected all of it.
    Are they afraid that the Opposition will demonstrate serious flaws in the EDP?
    Are they afraid deliberation on the government’s proposed reform measures in our construction sector will provoke more criticisms and frustrations amongst our contractors?
    Are they afraid the Opposition will awaken in the people how the government is wasting 500million ngultrums on McKinsey when so many people in our country do not yet have a decent home to live and good foods to eat?
    Are they afraid how the Opposition will reveal the serious corruptions we hear about in the Punatsangchu HP Project?
    You see, the DPT government do not listen and they will not listen to anyone. This is the only reason why most people speak on the same points again and again. It is not right and it is the duty of our people to make it right. Your silence will only damage our country because your silence does not mean you are neutral but it implies your consent. Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
    TWO:This is the only website in Bhutan where anyone can express anything about everything. You can write what you think. You can publish what you wrote without any kind of edition or moderations. This is the only website or blog which respects section 7.2 of our Constitution in its entirety. You will never come across such articles or issues in KOL or any other websites in Bhutan. I thank OL for this opportunity.
    I appreciate his sense of righteousness but how much of that he has, it is yet to see.

  18. Lobxang says:

    That’s a free lesson for your opponent- Guest right there.
    Tangba, you are right and I agree with you.
    Our opposition party is small, but too Massive for DPT to handle 🙂

    Quote from Tangba’s last comment: “I appreciate his sense of righteousness but how much of that he has, it is yet to see.”
    One thing I would like to see, when he wins the next election, is the continuity of his blog.

  19. To Lobxang:
    I don’t know if this OL Massive will be so open enough for us to write such things on his blog if he gets elected and becomes the government but you can have my words: if he compromises the principles of democracy and righteousness and if he violates our Constitution, I will be one of the first guys to make a lot of noise on his blog!!!

  20. Thinlay says:

    Simply describing OL as self rightious person is bit premature claim for we really do not see/read what he actually thinks on various issues raised in this blog. Ofcourse, i am thankful to him for allowing us to pour our thoughts without ommission or deletion;

    Most issues raised in this blog do not qualify, in my humble opinion, to be of any major consequence that warrants any serious discussion. I am more than willing to participate if issues on poverty, unequitable development, environmental pollution, corruption etc. are discussed.

    Cheers

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