Letter trail

Several of you (Pro Media, Zamtap, Sonam, Kudrung and Kids) have asked me to post the letter that Lyonpo Khandu and Dasho Chencho wrote soliciting financial assistance from people who are not registered members of their party. One reader, Kids, almost begged: “I sincerely request your excellency to share the letters with us.”

There’s no law prohibiting me from posting the letters (one in Dzongkha, the same in English). Yet, I feel uncomfortable. So please bear with me. But, be assured that my reluctance to post the letters here is not because I don’t want to share the evidence, so to speak. I just don’t feel comfortable.

One reader, however, obviously had a copy of the letter. This is part of what Rinzin wrote in defending the fund raising efforts of the DPT MPs: “The last paragraph of the letter reads ‘Kindly note that the Election Commission of Bhutan(ECB) in consideration of the financial difficulties faced by political parties have raised the maximum ceiling of an individual contribution from Nu.100,000 to 500,000. Please also note that in accordance with the Laws, your contribution will be adjusted as;
i. Registration fees,
ii. Membership fees,
iii. Balance as your contribution.”’

The “last paragraph” that Rinzin reproduced in fact proves otherwise. “…your contribution will be adjusted as: i. Registration fees,…..” is evidence that the letter was sent to people who have not paid registration fees. People who haven’t paid registration fees are not registered members of their party. And they had no business soliciting contributions from them.

I repeat: Section 146(c) of the Election Act states that a political party may be dissolved if “it has solicited or resorted to collection of funds from private individuals or any agency other than from its registered members.”

I’ve forwarded the letters to the ECB today. I’m confident that they’ll take it up from there.

 

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  1. Dear OL,

    Good luck with it. I hope at least we will see what decision ECB, if at all they, take to address this issue.

    If the actions is in line with accordance of the Election Act, they should not hesitate to administer, given their mandates.

    But if they don’t, we, people will assume that our country is plagued with corruption and failures at government level. We will by no choice continue to live with powers that are in wrong hand. Seriously, who really cares about country. Though we portray to the world how peaceful we are, how our culture and traditions are intact, how we were not influenced by west and globalization. Unfortunetely this are true at a cost beyond we actually think of.

    Our people at far flung remote villages are still suffering, there are corruption everywhere. Tell me one name/organization that is really committed to our people. NONE.

    I sincerely urge this kind of practice by our politicies should be dealt seriously to set an example best suited to our predecessors.

  2. What will happen if DPT is dissolved?
    Perhaps they knew ECB is not strong enough.

  3. chhimi’s remark on ECB’s strength underscores how critical it is for our democracy and tsa wa sum to safeguard its autonomy, and the autonomy of all other Constitutional Bodies. Hence, their personnel policies must not be placed under the authority of the Civil Service Commission.

    To be sure, it is the strength of top leadership that in the end secures the autonomy of her/his organization. But, even the best of leaders would find that job an uphill battle, without a supportive legal framework in place.

  4. Fortunately we have our King who has ordered the Civil Service Bill to be reviewed. If the RCSC is going to be regulating the constitutional bodies and government is going to regulate the RCSC, it implies that bodies like ACC will not be able to investigate the government. And ECB, in a case like this, will also be powerless.

    It is bit a pity that the ECB’s chief, OAG General and the RAA AG kept silent on this issue.

    Fortunately we had Dasho Neten Zangmo the only “man” among the constitutional post holders!

    • Like Dame Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, whose resoluteness led her ministers to call her “the only man in the cabinet”!

  5. The concern of the OL is noted well. I would like to know, if people are not solicited to make contributions to the different parties, how will people become registered members. I do not understand this.
    Section 146(c) of the Election Act states that a political party may be dissolved if “it has solicited or resorted to collection of funds from private individuals or any agency other than from its registered members.”

    But then how can an individual become a member in the first place without soliciting and receiving the contribution. And also I believe there is also a clause saying that no member of party can make contribution on behalf of the other non member to help in registration. But then there are definitely many who are contributing more than one lakh but is reflected in the name of others. OL please kindly help to clarify my doubts.

    • Dear Dorji,

      there are three ways to raise funds – registration fees, membership fees and voluntary contributions.

      Registration fees: this is a one-time fee that new members pay to join a party. Obviously, you cannot register people who are already members of another party. In fact, our election laws do not allow one person to belong to more than one party. So a party should not invite people from other parties to join their party.

      Membership fees: these are fees that registered members to a party pay their party each year.

      Voluntary contributions: these contributions are made only by registered members of a party to their respective parties. Election laws do not permit parties to request for voluntary contributions to non-members. And this is what had happened.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Thank you Hon’ble OL for the clarifications. It seems that for anyone to get registered with any party they must produce a letter that they do not belong to another party. Otherwise once registered with a party, it must also be assumed that the person will remain faithful the whole life irrespective of the performance of a party. I for one would like to be free to register with the party that satisfies me with its performance but it seems there will be “jamela” with all these letters.

    Now some statistics. The population of Bhutan is around 691142 (est June 2009)…(please note there is something wrong in Wikipedia Bhutan demographics website … one extra 6, its mentioned as 6.6 million?. Considering that about 30% are below the age of 14 years and another 10 percent will be between 14-18 (who cannot register) and another 5-10% will be old and not interested to join any party, finally there will only about 300,000 people left who will have choice to register with the parties. Out of these as already shown overy the last few years, only few thousands will be interested to register after excluding the civil servants (50,000). So how can the parties sustain. If Nu. 15 each is collected as member registration fees, it will hardly come to few millions.

    Therefore, either there should be Govt. funding to provide equal playing field to all parties (with equal money) or otherwise there will be a lot of bad things happening behind the scene… black money pumped to the party accounts. The democracy could be threatened.

    This, to me is a food for thought for the ECB, present MPs, future MPs and aboveall, the true citizens of Bhutan.

    What do you say OL and other members of the forum.

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