Foreign Minister says viral WeChat clip taken out of context

A WeChat audio clip of the Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji talking to his constituents about fuel prices has gone viral.

The audio clip in which the minister seems to be answering a query says that the government is also concerned about rising fuel prices, but cannot do anything about it as it is due to external factors and the war in Ukraine.

He says if the situation continues in the future, prices may go up not just three times in a month but around 3 times in a week.

He says in another two or three months it may even be difficult to get fuel. He then says the situation has reached such a point that they are willing to handover power to the next government.  

This short clip of the minister went viral on WeChat groups and the social media in general with it attracting a lot of criticism.

It also created a small panic of sorts with people lining up to fuel their cars.

The minister said that the clip was taken out of context probably by political rivals in the chat group.

He said if the full clip is played then people were asking about the fuel prices and why the government is not able to do anything, and if this government is not able to then it should handover to the next government.

Lyonpo said that he had clarified that the fuel prices are increasing due to the Ukraine conflict.

Lyonpo said it is nothing new that some countries are facing a shortage. The minister is referring to international news reports of parts of Africa, USA and some other countries even facing diesel shortages due to the limited refining capacity.

The articles say that during the pandemic demand fell and now all of the sudden as the world is back on the path of recovery with increased demand of fuel some places do not have that refining capacity like before.

Also, attempts to reduce Russian oil dependence is leading to European countries to take the fuel from other sources.

The minister said that there is news of fuel shortages in parts of the world including in Sri Lanka and he said if the conflict goes on then we may not know what happens.

Lyonpo said that he was talking not as the foreign minister but as their MP in the chat group. He said he is not happy that the chat audio was shared without context and without approval.

On the matter of handing over to the next government the minister said that the statement was in response to someone saying they should handover the government to another one if they cannot solve the issue.

This has been interpreted by some as a sign of defeat or giving up by the DNT. However, the minister said it does not mean they have given up and in fact they have a lot of unfinished work and some pledges which have been disrupted by COVID-19.

He said Bhutan has earned a name for itself across the world for the handling of the COVID response. He said it was due to the blessing and guidance of His Majesty and at the same time there was a professional team with a health background.

He said the economy will now pick up with relaxations and it would be even faster once tourism opens up.

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