The public debate for Bumthang, which has only two aspirants in the race for the post, was held last week. Nima, from Tang Gewog is the incumbent National Council member, contesting against Kencho Tshering from Thromde, who has 10 years of experience as a Gewog Administrative Officer.
Among several discussions that ensued, the incumbent member was questioned by his opponent on not being able to have the Right to Information (RTI) Act in place during their tenure of five years in the Upper House.
Kencho Tshering emphasized on the importance of having an RTI Act in place, and cited Section 3 of the Constitution of Bhutan, where an article declares that “A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to information.”
To this Nima said, “We are not at all against having the Right to Information Act in place. In fact, after the Bill was passed to the upper house by the National Assembly, we tried our best to go in accordance with the rules of procedure of the house which mandates that before deliberating any bill, thorough research should be carried out. So we sought feedback and presentation from the custodian of the bill, which is the Communication Ministry. However, the Communication Ministry could not provide us timely feedback, which affected our research works, and thus couldn’t be deliberated on time.”
Nima said that his advantage as an incumbent would be that he is already well versed in the NC and ready to work from day one. His rival Kencho on the other hand said that his experience as a GAO for 10 years showed that it is time to ensure that laws are made and changed in such a way that they are both easy to implement and also addresses the public’s concerns.
The highlight of the debate was the concluding appeals made by the two candidates. Nima appealed that people should vote not based on the gewog or region of the candidate but as someone who can represent Bumthang. He also stressed that people should not listen to and believe in untrue rumors.
Kencho on his part appealed that voters in Bumthang should not let party politics enter the apolitical NC race in the Dzongkhag and also influence their votes. He said that if party politics entered the Bumthang race this would be a great failure and goes against His Majesty’s visions and hopes for Bhutan.
Kencho said that Bhutan could get good MPs and bad MPs but it is important to remember that Bhutan’s Kings are always concerned about the welfare of the country and threats against it like internal instability, wars and natural disasters. He said it is vital to maintain the sanctity of Monarchy and it is important to fulfill the vision of our Kings for the country.
Kencho promised to be a model MP in the NC if he is elected.