Foreign Minister admits to oversight but denies corruption

Tsirangtoe MP case also comes up

In response to a question by The Bhutanese, at the monthly meet the press, on the Foreign Minister and Tsirangtoe MP’s case,  the Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said that while he might have made an oversight he does not accept the allegations of bribery alleged in an anonymous letter to ACC.

The ACC is investigating the minister in his former capacity as a Drangpon in Mongar for giving a 10 year sentence instead of a 15 year life sentence for Chorten vandalism. The investigation is based on an anonymous letter which also alleges that the minister was bribed for it by a contractor Ugyen Tshering.

Giving his side of the story, the Foreign Minister said that in 2002 around 15 years ago he was transferred from Gelephu to Mongar as the judge and in a year he handled around 700 different cases.

Lyonpo said that since he was one of the few qualified Judges he sent quite of lot of time travelling to Thimphu as he was part of the Constitution Drafting committee from 2001 onwards and he was also involved in drafting the Bhutan Penal Code that got passed in 2004.

He said as a result his stay in Mongar was limited while the workload was still there.

Lyonpo said that in 2002 he adjudicated a Chorten vandalization case with a judgment for life imprisonment. He said that the convicted had 10 days to appeal and with no appeal the bench clerk would inform the police in writing saying that a person has been convicted from a certain date to another date.

“Now, as a Drangpon, I have to sign more than 100 papers everyday, as we get summons for people from Mongar district by the 20 district and Dungkhag courts and we also send out summons which were all going on,” said Lyonpo.

“So when I signed and sent the letter to the police instead of life imprisonment (minimum of 15 years) it was instead 10 years. I take responsibility for the oversight word to word but what really concerns me is that the anonymous letter says I have been bribed by a Ugyen Tshering who is supposed to be a contractor,” he added.

“I don’t even know and have never met him and even if I meet him today I would not recognize him. I don’t know from where this appeared. I am concerned and I hope the ACC will get to the bottom of this because as far as I am concerned I was not bribed for the case,” the minister said.

He said that there is a malicious side to the case as certain people whose name he would not mention got the corruption issue included. The minister said that the government is very serious in dealing with any type of corruption.

Lyonpo thanked the media for the story saying that he did not receive a copy of the anonymous letter and he now knows the allegations.

Lyonpo said that His Majesty has time and again expressed serious concerns about uprooting corruption and so this government was very serious about tackling corruption by not only reducing it but by eliminating the problem. He gave the example of the former Foreign Minister who had stepped down after a district court verdict but had been acquitted by the High Court and Supreme Court.

The Prime Minister said that Lyonpo Damcho has made his stand very clear and is prepared for a full investigation.

In the case of the Tsirangtoe MP Novin Darlami, the PM said that while the news headline by a paper says, ‘ACC investigates Tsirangtoe MP case,’ in a fake REDCL office case the actual story does not allege anything against the MP and instead a person called Tshewang is mentioned for establishing an IFFPP office. The PM said that the same story says that REDCL officials visited Tsirang to conduct an investigation and found that the complaints are baseless.

The PM said the story says there is talk of collection of Nu 300 per form and the scribbling of a handwritten REDCL paper signage but here again MP Novin Darlami is not mentioned at all.

Lyonchhen said that the complications of such issues along with certain editorials would give a wrong perception to the people. The PM invited the media and anybody else to come forward with and write about corruption.

The Foreign Minister also said that the moment he saw the Tsirangtoe story headlines he thought it was a very serious case, but as he read the story he found the issue was entirely about something else and setting up of an association and there was nothing about the MP.

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One comment

  1. Given your penchant for detailed investigative journalism it would be nice if TheBhutanese could dig deeper and come out with a detailed story.

    As a Drangpon if he had to sign hundreds of letters then, now as a Minister he must be signing even more. Meaning there’s a higher chance of oversight now leading to more errors like he had committed earlier. A Drangpon is trained his whole life to avert such mistakes, especially such cases as commuting a life sentence. It is also hard to believe that this mistake was never noticed until now. I guess the convict has now been released after completing his serving term.

    Oversight on judgement of one’s own conduct usually is the mother of all forms of corruption.

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