Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes to MoLHR asking for explanation
In what was a major violation of diplomatic protocol, the Director General of the Department of Employment and Human Resources, Sherab Tenzin had written directly to Bhutan’s Honorary Consul in Japan on 26th July without informing the Cabinet or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to a source in the government, the DG’s letter to Honorary Consul Dr. Ryoichi Nagata had come as a surprise to the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet and also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The source had said that the government has kept note of this and is taking action.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on 31st July wrote to the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) stating that the letter to the Honorary Consul by the DG is not in keeping with the norms of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The MFA has asked for an explanation from the Ministry.
The Labour Minister Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji is on medical leave and he was on medical leave when the DG sent the letter.
In December, 2014 the former government had surrendered three government secretaries to the RCSC for writing to the Indian Ambassador on behalf of the government without permission from the Cabinet or the MFA Minister.
At the time, the former government had quoted various sections of the Civil Service Act and BCSR that had been violated by three senior bureaucrats engaging in direct diplomacy on behalf of Bhutan without authorization from the Cabinet and the Foreign Minister.
An honorary consul is appointed by the government usually in a major city to be Bhutan’s representative and also look after the needs of the local Bhutanese there.
Though the honorary consul is not an official ambassador or diplomat the person has certain diplomatic standing as the appointment is made by Bhutan’s government.
Another moot point here is that the DG has written to the foreign territory of a foreign government in an official capacity representing the Royal Government when he did not have official sanction to do so.
The normal process for government agencies to take part in such diplomatic communication is through the MFA and that too with the knowledge and consent of the minister of the ministry.
The letter by the DG issues copies only to the secretary and the BEO CEO but not to any minister, MFA or the Cabinet.
Though just a DG heading a department, the letter addressed to the honorary consul in Japan thanks the honorary consul for support provided to Bhutanese youth and he says that support during this critical period will ‘never be forgotten.’
It is not clear how a Labour DG can make such assurances to an Honorary Consul on behalf of Bhutan’s government without government authorization.
The letter goes on to say that Dhan Maya and her son are reaching Japan and that the BEO and SND agents have appointed a Mr. Takeda Takashi as an interpreter and coordinator for Sonam Tamang’s family, and that the SND agent Mr. Endo will also be looking after the two family members from time to time.
The letter then says, “We would like to request for your kind support as maybe required. We also take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the agents for their cooperation and support being rendered to the family.”
Again the DG here is taking a government position by using the word ‘We’ when in fact the government was not informed of the letter nor was permission sought.
The letter also takes a stand of behalf of the government and thanks the agents whose licenses are already suspended, are charged by ACC and are being sued by the majority of students and parents in both Bhutan and Japan.
The letter is signed by the DG under his name.
Apart from the violation of the diplomatic protocol SND used the illegal letter to controversially limit Dhan Maya Tamang and Pasang Tamang’s freedom of speech by not allowing Japan’s public broadcaster NHK to interview them.
The agent also used the illegal letter to deny Dhan Maya access to other Bhutanese students and a Japanese social worker who wanted to help.
The DG has already been charged by the ACC for favoring the agents and ACC had recommended both administrative action and his suspension to not affect the case.
However, the government had controversially given him a virtual clean chit early on when it had declared him to be a ‘hardworking’ man and somebody with lots of experience who had tried his best.
The Labour Ministry was also reluctant to forward the DG’s case to the RCSC and it asked the ACC for a second time after which the ACC wrote a second letter insisting for the report to be sent to the RCSC. One main fear of ACC was that the continuation of the DG in office could lead to the tampering of the case and evidences.
The report was perfunctorily sent by the Ministry to RCSC on ACC’s insistence but without any strong recommendation.
The RCSC, like the government, took a very lax view of the matter and decided to neither suspend the DG nor take any of the many administrative actions recommended by ACC against the DG.
As a result, the DG still continues in office issuing directions and communication on the LEP program even as the two BEO owners have been arrested by the RBP, based on a complaint by the students and parents.