Responsible government?

“As the Honourable Members are aware, our balance of payments with India has been worsening and the RMA has been facing a severe scarcity of Indian Rupees…” That was the finance minister’s opening line when he introduced the Tax Revision Bill in the National Assembly earlier today.

Yes, our balance of payments with India is in bad shape. And we are facing a severe shortage of Indian currency. In other words, we face a rupee crisis.

We have a crisis in our hands. And it’s no point playing the blame game. We must work together – we must think and act as one – to overcome the current crisis. And we must seize every economic opportunity, old and new, so that we emerge stronger from these difficult times.

Still, we must know who got us into this mess. And we must hold that person to account. That’s if we are serious about good governance. That’s if we are serious about getting out of this mess. Otherwise, with the same person in charge, the situation will just get worse.

So yesterday, during the National Assembly’s Question Hour, I asked the finance minister to tell us who should take responsibility for the rupee crisis. My question was straightforward:

The rupee crisis has caused a great deal of hardship to the people of Bhutan. More importantly, the crisis could compromise the economic sovereignty and security of our country. Will the Hon’ble Minister please explain who will take responsibility for the rupee crisis?

My question was straightforward. But the reply, which offered a detailed account of the causes and solutions of the rupee problem, was long and cumbersome. And the reply did not point out who, specifically, should be held accountable. Instead, the finance minister indicated that the Bhutanese people were both responsible and accountable for the current situation.

So let’s take a poll. Let’s see who we think should assume responsibility for the rupee crisis. Should it be the prime minister? Or should it be the finance minister? Or the RMA governor? Or should it be the people at large who should take responsibility for the economic mess?

State of our civil service

I watched the last part of the People’s Voice debate on BBS TV this evening. The motion was “Civil Service – efficient and accountable?”

The team arguing against the motion won by a huge margin, 692 votes to 184 votes. Obviously, they were able to convince the viewers that our civil service is NOT efficient and accountable.

But the votes are compiled from viewer SMSs (only one SMS per phone number is recognized). So the result also reflects widespread discontent at the state of our civil service.

What do you think? Is our civil service efficient and accountable? Please take the poll. And please share your views. This is an important issue. And the more of us that think about it, the better it is for our country and our people.


An inconvenient truth

Last week, on the 8th of July, Bhutan Today reported that the Phuentsholing hospital received four post abortion complication cases in just one month. All the abortions had been performed across the border, in Jaigon. All four cases were life-threatening.

This week, on the 14th of July, Kuensel reported that a young woman died in Phuentsholing hospital from post abortion complications. The abortion had been performed on the 11th of July, in Jaigon, just three days after the Bhutan Today article.

Many of our women have lost their lives attempting abortions. Many, many more have suffered life-threatening complications caused by abortions. And countless others have undergone the trauma of abortions in dangerous clinics across our border.

The media have done a remarkable job informing the public about the reality of abortions, especially about abortions that go wrong. But still, the subject is taboo.

We know what’s happening. But we chose to ignore the truth.

This cannot continue. We must talk about it. This conversation will, no doubt, be uncomfortable, even difficult. But for the sake of our women – for the sake of our sisters and our daughters – we must accept what’s going on. And we must look for solutions.

What do you think?

Should we legalize abortion? Or should we explore other solutions? Please give me your views. And please take the poll.

Devika Darjee

A winner

Almost 200 of you took part in the poll to decide who would be our sportsperson of the year. Thank you for voting. And thank you for your many comments. I closed the poll at midnight on the last day of January.

The race was close. Ugyen Yoeser (cycling) and Devika Darjee (cricket) ran neck and neck in our informal competition. Eventually Devika won, but by barely a whisker – she secured 55 votes against Ugyen’s 53.

Devika Darjee was the only lady among my nominees for the sportsperson of 2010. She beat nine men to the top spot. Congratulations.

Devika wins Nu 25,000. She should contact me by email to claim her prize.

The prize money comes from the Nu 200,000 I collected for completing the Tour of the Dragon, a bicycle race from Bumthang to Thimphu. All of it is being spent on social work, especially to promote sports.

 Photo credit: Kuensel

Leaking information

Mega-leaks by WikiLeaks: First it was the Afghan War Diary. Then it was the Iraq War Logs. Now it is Secret US Embassy Cables.

These and the thousands of other otherwise unpublished documents “leaked” by WikiLeaks have generated strong reactions both for and against the award wining, new media nonprofit organization.

What do you think? Does WikiLeaks promote transparency and accountability in government? Or does WikiLeaks threaten international relations and global security?

Please share your views. And take the poll.

Security Council?

Powerful lobby?

Our government has started to campaign for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Is this a good idea? Take the poll that asks: “Should Bhutan lobby to join the UN Security Council?”

McKinsey poll

During the last session of the Parliament I asked the prime minister to explain what Mckinsey were doing that couldn’t be done by our own civil servants. Subsequently, I ran a poll that asked you “Are civil servants impressed with McKinsey’s work?”

Of the 569 who took the poll, 408 (or 72%) replied with a emphatic “No!” while only 72 (or 12%) said “Yes!” The others (16%) answered “I don’t know.”

Our poll results are straightforward: An overwhelming majority of you are not impressed with McKinsey’s performance. That is terrible, especially if, as I suspect, many of you who took the poll are civil servants.

But there’s another side to the story. Last Sunday, Bhutan Times ran a story in which many people – civil servants, ministers and counterparts – went on record to endorse the good work that McKinsey and Company were doing in our country. That is good news.

So are McKinsey doing a good job? The verdict is still out.

Polling McKinsey

During question hour today, I asked the prime minister to explain what work McKinsey were doing that couldn’t be done by our own civil servants. And in my leader to the question, I’d reported that the civil servants I’d spoken with had confided that they were not impressed with the work that McKinsey had done so far.

Naturally, the prime minister saw it differently. He claimed that every civil servant he’d talked to had been impressed with McKinsey’s work and had lavished praise on the world’s leading consultancy firm.


But still, let’s conduct a poll – we haven’t had one in quite a while. Today’s poll asks,  “Are civil servants impressed with McKinsey’s work?”

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.

Druk Star gazing

Bhutanese idol

We are divided on the question of Bhutan’s accession to the WTO. 40% of you answered “No” in the poll that asked “Should Bhutan Join the WTO?”, 37% replied “Yes”, and the rest said, “I’m still unsure”.

I’ll give my views on this important matter soon.

For now, we need to consider another important matter: Druk Star! After four months of music and entertainment, we are down to the final five contestants. One of them will be crowned Druk Star this Sunday.

Our poll asks the burning question: who will be the next Druk Star?