Open Letter to Dasho Dzongdags

Calling on chief executives

Dear Dasho:

I am writing about a matter of grave importance: the involvement of political parties in local governments.

You will recall that, during your recent annual conference, the Prime Minister called for party workers to be involved in the development process at the local levels. And, that he requested for party workers to be invited to observe the sessions of the local governments.

Article 22 of the Constitution clearly defines the powers, objectives, structure and functions of local governments. It also ensures that local governments remain nonpartisan. As such, political parties cannot be directly involved in the development process at the local levels, and allowing them to do so would seriously undermine the integrity and authority of local governments.

Chapter 8 of the Local Government Act empowers the chairpersons of local governments to invite any person as an observer during their sessions. So nobody else, including the government, should be permitted to decide who must be invited as observers. And nobody, especially party workers, should be allowed to receive automatic invitations based on their positions. I firmly believe that giving in to the government or to party workers on this matter would compromise the powers of the chairpersons, and encourage party politics to influence local governments.

Local governance has been carefully and steadily strengthened during the past three decades, beginning with the establishment of Dzongkhag Yarkay Tshogdus in 1981. The introduction of parliamentary democracy should further strengthen local government institutions, and the Constitution, which requires power and authority to be decentralized and devolved to local governments, provides the legal instruments to do so.

I would, therefore, like to request you, Dasho, as the Chief Executive of your Dzongkhag, to protect local governments to the best of your ability, and to prevent political interests from corrupting this important institution.

With my best wishes,

Yours faithfully,

Tshering Tobgay

Copy: The Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of Bhutan

Photo credit: Kuensel

 

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  1. Yangchung says:

    Just don’t get disappointed later for not confirming to your order/request. “Dashos” must be seriously suffering from severe headache due to so many contradictory orders!!!

    Lets wait and see, though.

    Cheers~~

  2. Yangchung says:

    Opps, its Conforming not “confirming.
    Sorry, my bad!

  3. No doubt all the issues you’ve been passionately raising are of grave significance for the sustenance/revival of a parliamentary democracy. Most of us, party independent concerned citizens subscribe to your views. We appreciate for keep voicing our concerns even in an unfriendly environment. We all know it is an “uphill battle” for you. We also know “righteousness” will prevail at the end.

    By the way, looking at the way you sign it off and the usage of singularity make me wonder if you are the only one in the opposition. I don’t intend to assign imbalance ranking between the offline and online workers here nor I am trying to dig out what offliners are doing. Everyone has a role, and we all dutifully play our roles. I am just wondering why you have to battle all alone, why not as the opposition party after all it is not about your constituency, it is about the survival of Bhutanese democracy. Where is Dasho Damcho la…

  4. Exactly Mr “sonam_t”. If this is the complete copy of the letter OL wrote, I also wondered the same. Where is honorable Damcho? What is he doing? And signing off an official letter like that is going too personal. Tshering Tobgay is not writing it on behalf of himself but on behalf of the Opposition Party in the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Bhutan. He is writing it as a representative of the the other half of the people who represents this nation. I think Honorable Tshering Tobgay, if I may suggest, should sign it thus:
    Tshering Tobgay,
    Leader of the Opposition Party,
    National Assembly,
    Kingdom of Bhutan.

  5. The mere fact that this would violate the constitutional provisions and the rights conferred on the Local Government chairperson by the LG Act, I feel the political parties should not be involved in LGs.

    I suggest all the Dzongdas should unanimously accept and make sure politicians are not involved in the decision making of the LG….hence protecting the interest of the public in General.

    *** we just cant think about the present, when a law is made, we gotta look at the future perspectives as well

  6. @Sonam_t;@Tangba: Good observation. I sent the letter officially, as the OL, on the National Assembly letter head. I should have posted a link to a copy of the letter.

    Dasho Damcho is in Thimphu, and we meet regularly.

  7. This government proudly declares that building a strong foundation for Democracy is their highest priority. But I don’t know how this can happen if they continue to ignore, intimidate, and undermine the Opposition – a critical institution for Democracy. They say one thing and do just the opposite. Is it that they don’t really know how democracy works or are they deliberating lying and misleading the nation. People are losing their trust in the government and the politicians.

    Without creating an effective institution of the Opposition, beside others, how are we going to have “Checks and Balances” in the Parliament?

    Ignoring and trivializing the Opposition, having DPT Party Workers get involved in LG, MPs getting involved in the Executive branch through CDG and other means, MPs raising their own salary without involving the Pay Commission, intimidating and influencing media, grabbing whatever business opportunities comes along from mega projects like Punatsangchu, Education City, etc., ignoring the poor and ordinary citizens who voted them to power, ignoring the ECB, and tampering with the Constitution, will not strengthen the foundation of our Democracy. It will, in fact, destroy whatever we have achieved so far and lead us to something else!

    Wake up people, before it’s too late! The institution of the Opposition is very important if our Democracy is to succeed. This institution is not about Tshering Tobgay, it’s about our Democracy and the future of our Nation. This fight is not just OL’s fight, but every Bhutanese citizen’s fight to protect our Nation’s future and our Democracy.

    There is no Equity and Justice for the poor and the ordinary. There is no opportunity and hope for the poor and the ordinary. Do we want such a future for our children and grandchildren?

    Wake up people! This is not our beloved Kings governing the nation. Things have changed and if we remain indifferent and complacent, and let the politicians do as they wish, they are going to sink the boat with all of us in it.

    It is not about DPT and PDP. With a weak opposition in the Parliament, an immature Media, and a weak Judiciary, “We the People” have to provide the checks and balances to this government. If we don’t do our part, individually and collectively, this government’s experiment with our nation’s future and Democracy – the Precious Gift from our Kings – is going to cost us and future generations of Bhutanese dearly.

  8. Dear OL,

    Now that the speaker has made it pulbic, the agenda of pay hike in forthcoming NA discussion, how about a post on this issue?…i like that…
    In the meanwhile, i dont hear about any other agenda besides pay hike…this shows the persistence of self-interest of our hon’ble MPs…i like that too…

  9. guardian says:

    If it is as per the constitution, then definitely the DPT party workers cannot and should not be involved in the development process at the local level and the OL is right in opposing it.

    I however, would like to hear the OLs views on the appointment of Ex Shung Kalyon as one of the justices of the supreme court and whether the constitution allows someone with no legal background to be appointed to such an important post. In the event that his appointment is not allowed because of a lack in qualification, then why the OL has not opposed such a move by the government.

    Kindly give us your views.

  10. Thank you Honorable OL for the response. I just remembered this quote by Harry S Truman, the 33rd President of the United States of America:
    **Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear**

  11. Pema wangchuk says:

    Thank you Tangba for the Harry Truman’s quote. What DPT has done so far is to suppress or ignore the opposition and seems fully committed to silensing the voices of dissent.

  12. Damcho Dorji, Gasa MP. says:

    “Open Letter to Dasho Dzongdags”

    Dear Sonam_t and Tangba,

    Thanks for your concern. I am still sticking around but like to keep a low profile. The issue that Hon’ble OL has raised was discussed with me and was discussed several times in the preceding NA Sessions as well. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of it because of absence of live telecast and the papers were not interested in covering these issues in depth! The issue first started with the complaints by the people of Wamrong when the DPT party workers attended a DYT meeting in Wamrong Dungkhag claiming direct orders to do so by the PM,that allegedly resulted in the decision to change the course of a feeder road that was already started.

    The Opposition has made its stand very clear on the non-involvement of party workers in GYT and DYT meetings. It was the intention of the Constitution to have an independent LG. Despite that, the Government seems to be bent on involving Party Workers in GYT & DYT meetings, which I strongly feel that it undermines the independence of the LGs. It is for the same reason why even Dzongdas are not permitted to vote in DYT meetings.

    My argument is that when it comes to permitting any person to attend a GYT or DYT meeting either as observer or expert, it should be left entirely at the discretion of the Chairman of the DYT or GYT as per the LG ACT. Now that the PM himself has mandated that party workers should be involved in these meetings, I do not understand how they can be involved without compromising on the independence of the LG, and the worst part is that it becomes obligatory on the part of the Chairmen to abide by it, howsoever mild the PMs words are crafted. And it is not just the issue of attending meetings but from the Press release, it is also about involving them in all developmental activities.

    Anyway, thanks for remembering me once in a while.

  13. honarable OL’

    I want to know from your goodself that the condition of Phuentsholing Town Road is out of Condition from more than a year. so who is responsible for this la.i believe that developments means it should be taken from root level. if government go on developing Thimphu than i think the purpose gross nationalwon;t be fufilled la. your goodself may inspect the roads of P/ling town personally and raise this issue to our respected ruling Government

    • @prabhu: it should be the local government’s responsibility – in this case, Phuentsholing City Corporation’s responsibility. However, maintenance of roads has still not been decentralized to local governments. So, it is the MOWHS’s responsibility. At any rate, the Central Government is required to ensure that local government receive sufficient funds and support.

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