Answering Sonam


Sonam’s question generated a good deal of discussions. And, most of you argued that we, elected officials – ministers and MPs alike – should not wear our kabneys and patangs after completing our terms in office.

Similarly, almost all of you who took the poll that asked, “Should elected MPs and ministers continue to wear their “kabneys” after their terms in office?” voted against the idea. A resounding 220 of you said “NO”; only 18 said “YES”.

I agree with the majority. But should we, in fact, take it still further? Should we do away with colour-coded kabneys and patangs completely for our elected officials, even while they are serving their terms in office?

I think so.

The kabney and patang denote rank – they represent power and authority. And they are incongruous in a democracy, a system of government that is based on the important idea that all people are equal. We cannot be true to the principles of democracy and ideals of our Constitution, if the very people that we elect continue to engage in visual displays of power and privilege.

Some of you will argue that we should continue using the kabney and patang as they are part and parcel of our rich cultural heritage. I agree. And, in keeping with our culture and traditions, only His Majesty the King should award such decorations; they shouldn’t be seen as automatic perks for elected MPs and ministers.

Sonam’s question

Will they run?

Will the colour run?

Last month, Sonam Ongmo, who blogs and tweets from New York, asked her readers:

have a Q 4 Bhutanese. What happens to orange scarf 4 elected ministers after they leave office?

This is a pertinent question. And we should discuss it. So send me your comments. And take the poll.