Civil liberties

Yesterday’s workshop on human rights awareness confirmed what most of us already suspect: that we don’t have serious human rights violations, but that, occasionally, human rights do get inadvertently sidelined.

Dasho Damcho Dorji, who is the Chairman of the National Assembly’s Human Rights Committee, explained that instances of human rights violations were isolated and that they were: “not intentional” and resulted from either “ambiguity in laws” or “over enthusiasm by young officials.”

But, intentional or not, the Human Rights Committee has decided to investigate all complaints they receive. They will also review legislation and government policies to ensure that our citizens are guaranteed basic human rights, guarantees that are enshrined in the Constitution as “Fundamental Rights”.

One fundamental right is that: A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech, opinion and expression.

Yet, the Civil Service Bill that the National Assembly passed last year states that civil servants shall: Refrain from publically expressing adverse opinion against the Royal Government.

The Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, opinion and expression, and yet a law is passed that would undermine that freedom for the more than 20,000 civil servants.

So I agree with the Human Rights Committee’s decision to review legislation to prevent “ambiguity in laws”. The review could also stop any intentional violation of human rights.

Our poll asks if civil servants should be allowed to express adverse opinions about the Government.

Gender choices

Our last poll asked what you’d like to be reborn as in your next life. Most of us (133 or 42%) of us said that we did not care about the gender of our next birth. This is good, as it could mean that this group does not experience obvious gender biases in this life.

But 132 or about 42% of us said that we would prefer to be reborn as men. And, only 51 of us – that’s barely 16% – would choose to be reborn as women.

The last poll was meant to be amusing. It was also meant to make us indirectly reflect on the state of our women. The poll results, if they can be taken seriously, are not amusing.

Our new poll is on the tobacco control debate.

A big problem

We have a problem. In our last poll, 94% of you claimed to either know or think that drug abuse is already a problem in Bhutan. On the other hand, only 5% of you said that drug abuse is not a problem in our country. 1% admitted that they don’t have a clue.

I suspected that substance abuse was growing, especially among out youth. But, I had no reason to think that it was already a problem. The poll results have forced me to rethink my views – that’s why I kept the poll up for so long. Next week, I plan to discuss this issue with the government including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency. I’ve also arranged to meet some youth.

This week’s poll asks: “how prepared are we to cope with disaster?”

Checking for our government

Our government's performance

Government's work

The previous poll, on our government’s performance, drew a record number of voters. 409 of you participated in the poll. And, 206 of you said that our government’s performance so far has been “good” or “very good”. That’s an impressive 64% approval rating. Not bad, indeed.

But some of you were suspect. Which promoted one reader, freewill, to point out “…that some DPT fanatics are corrupting you poll results by voting 50 to 100 times by one person. I think your website should be set up in such a way only one person from one ip can vote once and disable proxies.”

Indeed. The numbers favouring the government’s performance changed overnight. I do believe that we had one, or a few, voters casting multiple ballots using, as freewill suggests, proxie servers. So perhaps we did not have as many as 409 people participating in our poll. And so perhaps the poll results are not honest.

But, I will still respect the results. That’s why I chose not to close the poll even though I noticed the overnight swing. My views, however, on our government’s performance is public knowledge. I wrote about it a few days ago.

Our next poll is on our parliament. Let’s see which of our two houses conducts their debates well.

CDG poll results

Of the 37 participants in the poll, 43% asked for more debate on the CDG by using our media. 35% felt that the CDG was unconstitutional and that the Ministry of Finance should be informed accordingly. And 22% said that ECB should be informed that the CDG breaks election laws.

Thank you for your advice.

Yesterday I officially informed that Minister of Finance that the CDG is unconstitutional. And I spoke with the media with the hope of facilitating public debate on this important issue.