Crossing the Red Line

19 July 2013 will go down as one of the saddest days in Bhutanese history as over excited DPT supporters and members, high on rhetoric and rumors and low on facts and evidence, leveled a series of untrue allegations directly or indirectly against the Palace during a party meeting held in YDF, Thimphu.

There were also all kinds of sloganeering, innuendos, and defamatory allegations with one confirmed slogan by an anonymous member in the DPT gathering going to the extent of even wishing His Majesty the King- a short life.

First of all, the senior DPT leadership and the organizers of the meet must take the blame for allowing such a seditious meeting to happen in the first place.

The meeting was not a spontaneous outpouring of grievances as portrayed by some.

Case in point is that the entire tone of the meeting was set by the opening speaker who spoke on behalf of senior DPT leaders and the party in a pre-approved speech. It was this speech that first brought up the name of the Palace and palace officials.

This was followed by party tshogpas and workers reaffirming this speech with additional rhetorical input.

Given the nature of election common forums, where party workers from both parties ask similar questions prepared in advance, the questions and comments of some party workers at YDF should not come as a surprise.

The open invitation and unrestricted access given to all the media including the national TV and radio broadcaster to cover this deeply disturbing event also further underscores the organized nature and intent of the ‘outpourings’.

This is not the first time that DPT members and even its senior leadership have resorted to defamatory lies and untruths. Be it in common forums or other avenues, DPT members, supporters

and its tshogpas have been particularly noteworthy in the 2013 campaign for being low on facts and evidences and high on allegations and baseless rumor mongering.

It would do well for DPT to remember that Bhutan is not a communist country, but a democratic constitutional monarchy nation, one where His Majesty the King is the Head of the State and the symbol of unity of the Kingdom and of the people of Bhutan.

It is the Monarchy, which despite the reservations of the majority of Bhutanese, gave up absolute power and pushed Bhutan into an era of democracy.

It is the same Monarchy where His Majesty the Fourth King risked his own life to personally lead our armed forces from the front to drive out large numbers of militants armed to the teeth in 2003.

The Monarchy, through five generations of selfless leadership, has ensured that Bhutan remains a sovereign and independent country when many bigger countries have lost their peace and sovereignty.

This scared institution has led Bhutanese citizens from an era of civil wars and feudal darkness to a modern era of unprecedented economic, social, and political progress.

To this day, His Majesty the King is involved in uplifting and taking care of the most vulnerable sections of Bhutanese society through granting Kidu like land kidu for the needy and vulnerable people. Such good deeds are done by the King, while some politicians are busy grabbing government and private land for themselves.

It is the same Monarchy who is there to stand by and comfort people in the hour of natural disasters, while some politicians can’t even be bothered to cut short their foreign trips.

If the same meeting had happened in another democratic monarchy state of Thailand, many members including

some senior leaders who made defamatory accusations and libel would be liable for imprisonment under ‘Lèse majesté’ laws.

The defamatory utterances against the Palace in the gathering already violate several laws from the Bhutan Penal Code to the National Security Act and even the Constitution.

While it would be well within His Majesty the King’s Constitutional and Legal Rights to prosecute and charge those who made defamatory utterances against His Majesty the King, on the contrary, the King was gracious enough to meet the brazen group of 20 from DPT.

Leaving aside the half baked allegations against the Palace, it would be interesting to note that most of the DPT’s allegations in its 15-point submission are actions which DPT itself has been accused of during the election process by PDP members.

The main allegation against the Palace is the politicization of the Royal Secretariat staff. The Royal Secretariat staff is not a small cozy bunch, but around 100 or so mainly civil servants on deputation who come and go in a rotating door policy.

Unlike the monks, civil servants have the right to vote for their own choice of political parties. Given DPT’s logic, PDP should be making allegations against civil servants who work in the Royal Secretariat who have voted for DPT or expressed positive views on DPT.

DPT has alleged that Royal Secretariat officials granted Kidu on census and land during the election process. This is a highly leading, ignorant, and dangerous charge to make.

First of all, there is no law in the land that forbids granting of Kidu during the election process, and moreover- as a matter of norm, there is no specific season for Kidu, as it is granted year

around. In fact, the Kidu is pending for tens of thousands of thrams in many major dzongkhags where excess land has been found after the national cadastral re-survey. If court officials were politicized then the election process would have been the perfect time for court officials to distribute Kidu to tens of thousands of Bhutanese families, in return for alleged political support which did not happen.

During the National Day in 2012, His Majesty the King commanded the people to come forward as both voters and candidates in the 2013 electoral process so that it is a success. Subsequently, candidates from all political parties in the common forums debates cited the words of His Majesty as an inspirational reason among other reasons for joining politics. DPT should have considered this fact before leveling a charge that just some PDP candidates joined politics on His Majesty’s command.

One issue has been DPT’s allegations that military officials were involved in influencing postal ballots. Though this allegation has been repeated several times, the DPT has yet to come with any specific proof, in the absence of which, it is just a baseless charge founded on hearsay.

The DPT’s defamatory and baseless charges against the Palace are not only an affront to His Majesty the King, but also to the people who voted in the 2013 General Elections. It is also an affront to the nation, as a whole, as His Majesty is the Head of State and the symbol of its unity.

In short, it goes against the basic tenants of King, Country and People-‘TsaWaSum’ that define us as a nation and people. It is also an affront to the Constitution and the many laws that find its basis in it. It is also an insult to Bhutanese democracy, for a party to use baseless rumors and defamatory allegations, to challenge a free and fair election result.

“When one with honeyed words but evil mind Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.”

Euripides

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