The MP says he has done nothing wrong
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), in a corruption investigation conducted between August and December 2012 has found the incumbent MP Ugay Tshering of Bongo-Chapcha constituency guilty of bribery and official misconduct. Also under the charge is the local DPT tshogpa Passang.
The ACC had then sent the case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in around December 2012. Since the charges are criminal in nature, the incumbent MP would not have been able to contest the 2013 elections, if the OAG had filed a case.
However, after keeping the case with them for a few months, the OAG has sent the case back to the ACC two weeks ago, saying that there was no legal basis to charge the MP. The ACC is currently reviewing the arguments submitted by OAG.
The case centers on the distribution of 14 cows worth around Nu 500,000 in 2012 from the Constituency Development Grant (CDG) budget under the incumbent MP.
Of the 35 household under the Tsimakha Chiwog in Bjachho Gewog, only around 14 households received the cows and rest of the 21 households did not get the cows.
The 21 households, in a jointly signed letter to the ACC, alleged that the cows have not been given to the villagers, on the basis of equity and justice, but rather given to those who had voted for DPT in 2008, and also they have used this as a reminder for them to vote for the DPT MP in the 2013 elections.
The letter said that the DPT tshogpa had distributed the cows among his own people and DPT supporters without informing the local government tshogpa and the local community.
It also said that when Passang was approached for the cows, he had said that the cows were from DPT and that if other people wanted cows then they should approach the PDP. In 2008, the incumbent DPT MP had lost from the Bjachho Gewog, which had mainly voted for the PDP candidate, but he won from the overall constituency of Bongo-Chapcha.
The letter also alleged that in some cases, Passang and the Gup also collected some money while in other cases some houses got two cows.
The letter said that if politics had such an impact at the local government level then it would be dangerous as even democracy would be harmed. It also said that the government should provide benefits equally to the people.
The letter dated 24th April 2012 was signed by around 21 people representing the 21 households that got left out in the Chiwog.
One of the person who was affected said, “As per the rules and practices, it is only the local government Tshogpa who should have been involved in distribution of the cows in a fair manner, but the fact that the MP gave the cows to be distributed through a DPT Tshogpa to his party supporters is neither fair nor legal.”
“What is more outrageous is that the DPT tshogpa went around boasting that the cows were a gift from DPT for only DPT supporters, and others who wanted cows should get it from PDP,” said the man.
He said that his understanding was that the CDG money used to buy cows was government money and should have been distributed fairly either through a lottery system where the winners could pay some cash compensation to others or that the 35 households could share the 14 cows among themselves.
Following the complaint, the ACC had conducted a detailed investigation from August to around December 2012. The ACC in Chukha interviewed scores of people and took statements. According to a source, one clinching evidence was that fact that Passang was a registered DPT member and very active in the 2008 General Elections.
There is already unhappiness among the 21 households that the OAG has not found any legal basis and has sent the case back to ACC. Two of their representatives will be arriving from Chukha to Thimphu to meet ACC to enquire about the case.
According to a source, what ACC would do is that after reviewing the case they would discuss it in the Commission. After this they could have a dialogue with the OAG, and from there one of the options will be the ACC filing its own case in the court like, in the case of Gyelpozhing.
Meanwhile, the incumbent MP Ugay Tshering who will be contesting from the same constituency for the 2013 round said that he has done nothing wrong.
He said that when he has been called by the OAG and he had submitted a document on the Dzongkhag plan activities. He claimed that it was later, when ACC was making its presentation of the case details to the OAG, that the OAG had referred to the document and has sent the case back to ACC. He also denied that there were any bribery charges against him.
The Bhutanese, despite repeated attempts to contact the OAG and ACC was met with refusals to comment.
The incumbent MP said that those who complained against him were from PDP and they were now trying to blow the issue out of proportion.
The MP said that after CDG was allocated, Passang being a strong DPT supporter, had come forward with the proposal, but he had been rejected by the Gewog saying that only local government tshogpas and the Gup should handle such issues. Ugay Tshering said that in six or seven months, the village tshogpa called a zomdu where the village decided to have dairy project, which was endorsed by the Gewog Tshogde who gave it to the Dzongkhag and the Dzongda in turn wrote to him.
The MP said he then approved the project, but later on found that the earlier list of people who had applied were missing and the Gup had also resigned from local government elections.
The MP said that he and the Mangmi asked for help from Passang who claimed that he could remember the people who applied. The MP said that after that he had no idea what happened.
A Royal Audit Authority on the use of CDG by various MPs including ministers covering 2008 to 2011 found the use of CDG in contravention to CDG rules, financial irregularities, in-effective use of CDG, poor diversification, and poor utilization among others.
Tenzing Lamsang/ Thimphu