Govt-Media relations have reached an all time low

Until a couple of years ago one of the biggest achievements of the DPT government was the establishment of what was seen as a generally liberal environment for the media.

The media wowed at how ministers including the Prime Minister took late night calls and were also an accessible lot through Meet the Press being held once a month. The government also kept reminding the press of its important role and in fact a few journalists were singled out and honored either with awards or public praise.

The fairy tale is now over as a chilling realization has set in that the Bhutanese media is not as free as it would like to believe it is, and there is a heavy price to be paid for criticizing the elected government.

Some of the biggest investigative or critical stories after the 2008 elections by default hit either supporters of the opposition party, past government ministers not sitting in the DPT and expendable bureaucrats. Journalists were hailed as heroes by the government for delving into stories like Bjemina, Phobjika, Ministry of Health procurement scam, etc as none of them affected the current government.

However, as the media also delved into stories like Bhutan Lottery, Gyelpozhing, Education City, Chang Ugyen, Trowa Theater etc the tune changed drastically from support to open hostility. These stories unlike the initial investigative stories directly or indirectly impacted the real power center within DPT which is its core guard of older ministers lead by the Prime Minister.

This was also in the context of the incumbency factor setting in as the government’s own 2008 honey moon with its citizens started to disappear as people started getting more critical of its failures and also started noticing its many omissions and commissions.

At this critical juncture the all powerful set within DPT had a clear choice of either allowing the media to remain professional and free or start cracking down. All signs indicate that the DPT government and its ministers have opted for a crackdown.

One sign is the increasing intolerance at the ‘Meet the Press’ which is no longer an event that journalists look forward to as many of them have to be coaxed by senior editors to go and ask questions. This is because even when sensitive but valid questions are asked, ministers more often than not respond by either giving a tshoda or defaming the reporters or media organization involved. ‘Meet the Press’ has become a feared venue for journalists where legitimate stories are lampooned and political dirt is thrown on the integrity of papers and journalists. The atmosphere is more akin to a strict headmaster talking to a group of young students than a real press conference.

In a time when the media is suffering the government instead of helping this important democratic institution has decided to selectively use advertisements to kill off what it sees as the critical elements in the press.

There is no doubt that government media relation has reached an all time low.

This hostility towards the media will impact the development of a free media, strengthen corruption and in-transparency, hamper good governance, limit democratic rights of citizens, affect free and fair elections in 2013 and over time contort our democracy into a virtual dictatorship.

The above has also exposed a serious flaw in our current leadership where older ministers who fitted well in the old system are not able to cope with the pulls and pushes of a young democracy. These older ministers who never really saw strong media criticism and scrutiny prior to 2008 have also convinced their other ministerial colleagues and MPs that what the media is doing is unnatural when in reality the media is just doing its job.

The result is a new system with old world players who are intent on shaping Bhutanese democracy to fit outdated perceptions and ill fitting moulds.

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51 comments

  1. Thats what u deserve

  2. Haha, another crap article, if they know how the media is gagged in many countries, than they will know how free the press in Bhutan is. As far as advertisements are concerned, as you sow so shall you reap and it’s the same all over the world.and not only in Bhutan. Media houses also shape public opinion and if this paper is seen as being more aligned with the PDP, than the government has every right to treat you as they see fit. If in 2013, the PDP does win the elections to form the next government, I am sure it would be mission accomplished for you and than you won’t be cribbing about advertisements any more.

    • “Ha ha”. Your favourite expression. We should rename you the Laughing Monk. 

      Everybody, including the media now seems to be pro-PDP. This is the height of paranoia. 

      No need to be paranoid. Just look at the realities as listed in this article to see where the problem for the DPT lies:
      ….Bhutan Lottery, Gyelpozhing, Education City, Chang Ugyen, Trowa Theater etc ad infinitum…

      • Apkado, why don’t you stop your wild accusations and if you think the RGOB has a case to answer, you are absolutely free to go the ACC, of course being the wimp you are, you won’t, but will only keep on ranting here. And what you have written is all stale news and is as old as the hills, so come on, please bring something new to the table.

        As for the discussion on this subject, I will give you an example on how it works, earlier this year, the Mamta led Trinamool Congress won the assembly elections in West Bengal and after a few months in power, her party banned some newspapers from state libraries that were seen to be aligned with the opposition parties, so newspapers that support the opposition party, like the Bhutanese does, certainly can not hold the government to ransom for being treated the way they are. And such an article coming from a journalist that walked out from a meet the press meeting with the PM certainly does not deserve any sympathy from any quarters. Whatever TLs personal feelings, he cannot disrespect an elected PM of the country, the day he that he certainly lost a lot of support from many quarters. Like I said, both you and the owners of the Bhutanese must hope that PDP wins and forms the government in 2013, then it will be game on for the two of you.

        Something, however, tells me that the two of you are on the wrong horse.

        • Respect should be mutual and earned. PM asking for a lot of respect, returning none.

          If your idea of a good democracy/government is India, you shouldn’t speak too much about democracy.

          • Haha. if India’s is not a good democracy, what is, all the things that are happening there is because they have a good democracy, take China’s example, why are they doing much better than India, it is because they have a system which gives a shit about the opinions of the people.

            So maybe, you don’t even know the meaning of democracy.

          • Haha. if India’s is not a good democracy, what is, all the things that are happening there is because they have a good democracy, take the example of China’s, why are they doing much better than India, it is because they have a one party system that gives a shit about the opinions of the people.

            If you have no inkling of what a democracy is, you will far better off keeping your ignorance under wraps.

        • The_monk :

          India is a country where most of the politicians are corrupt. The way you get your inspiration from them says a lot. The government makes blunders and you expect everyone to keep shut including the media. In case you have not noticed, everything the Bhutanese wrote about has been true although they may have sensationalized some of the stories.

          If the next government is one other than DPT and the bhutanese refrains from writing anything negative of them (i.e. if there are anything negative), this paper would have lost all my respect, and will say you were right, but until such a time comes, I am not going to believe what you are saying.

          From all the posts that you have made, its pretty clear that you are one of the following:

          1) Someone involved in one of those corruption cases
          2) Someone on DPT’s payroll
          3) Or just a blind ignorant rat who worships JYT and his party

          • Haha, you PDP fool, when a paper starts questioning the government for not givng them advertisements, that’s the time when you have to see why they are doing it, one thing is clear, you can’t have it both ways. I have given you numerous examples where this paper has been biased, if you can’t understand or have not read them, it is not my fault. So we have every right to question the motive of this paper, unless if you are a PDP ass who believe whatever this paper writes.

      • apkado,
        This monk seems to be someone who is having hands on all that cited scam.
        And don’t rename him/her as Laughing Monk. Monk is fine. He/She shorten it from word Monkey=monk+ey. So he is left with monkey

    • The Monk,you are Right,the Dog has to bark from feeders side otherwise who will feed the DOG. so you becareful and do your job. As you are performing very well till date but when dogs get older cant perform any more then you will be kicked out from there.

  3. i want DPT government only..But have to change some MPS what you say dear friends

  4. I will regret one thing in life, thats DPT was once a government here

  5. Let people decide. I think this paper will suffer because it dared to expose the so called high level people. If such punishment is meted to those who reveal truth, i can imagine Bhutan is in course to becoming Somalia country and Bhutan with less population will cripple.
    Everybody should think of this wonderful country and not about your posts, your status, your ego, your personal interests.

  6. This is totally a biased view and assessment of Bhutanese, probably Tenzin Lamsang’s. If anything the Bhutanese media lacked thus far, it is the professional journalism. Just because you can gather rumors, half baked stories, and putting your totally childish opinions on it doesn’t make you an indispensable journalist. 

    The Gyelposhing land scam did not happen during this government and so are the cases like Bhutan Lottery scam, Chang Ugyen’s land scam but you are asking it to be accountable. Of course the government should try and solve all the problems of the past if it can. 

    One problem thebhutanese is trying to create is a divide between the government and public, since its establishment this paper especially its editorials are all about creating a divide and campaigning against the government. Well good luck Tenzin Lamsang. 

    • Whats your point when you say Gyelposhing, Lottery, Chang Ugyen didn’t happen during this government?

      Yes, its no fault of the present government that those things happened. But what is of concern is the inaction (or should I dare say, their enthusiasm to pull those cases under the rug and expecting no one to make any noise) of the present government regarding the above cases. The present government should be held accountable for the actions they take (or not take) regarding the stories.

      Moreover, people from the DPT have been involved in most of those cases.

      By all means, those corruption cases were not small. Would you rather not hear about them at all?

      When you say the bhutanese is creating a divide between the public and the government, you make it sound as if the public are fools, who read and believe everything a newspaper writes.

      • Of course Public like you believe everything this paper writes, without question, don’t you mister? Do you think, the problems of the past are just what this paper reports? Mind you mister, it will be so overwhelming that you can’t stand even to the news that you’d choose to commit suicide. There are heaps and heaps of problems of the past. Corruptions cases where even your father and uncle are involved.  I for one cannot touch everything inside out unless I know and have the concrete solutions. Through my eyes, the government agencies such as ACC, RAA, AGO, etc. are doing the best they can. But your version of government taking action is to see the PM going to those people involved and drag them to detention center. Is that so? 

  7. lets accept the fact that PM/DPT and owner/lamzang of this paper are not getting along and obviously it will be biased editorial content…..I would rather like to hear from other papers which can give unbiased and actual situation baked by facts and figures…..This editorial content is just one man’s view! 

    • Did you ever realized that other papers are all puppets!

      • i don’t know whether other papers are puppets or not but i at least know that this paper is totally biased. For confirmation, u read all editorials in this paper since its inception and i am sure u will agree with me. I have no interest to defend government but as a reader, i just wish that all papers should make objective reporting without favor or hatred to individual or organization…… 

        • Hell Jampa, Where is DPT govts.Equity and Justice, If this paper is not strong enough this govt might have converted Prime lands in their and their relatives name, Might have sold leased lands to their dear and near ones at very subsidised rates. DPTs have guts to jail a innocent monk into prision just for acrrying few pakts of BAba this is just beacuse he is from Opposition leaders consituency, In the same way their Puppet only TV Media BBS have guts to broad cast him handciffing infront of his residence where as if Innfluentuals peoples like Chang Ugyen who illegally converted 10 Acres of govt.Land into his name have no effects. We have never seen and hear from Kuensel and BBS on this case.

          one day it will become a National Issues if govt keeps on acting Innocen when they are at fault. Instead of clarifying themselves (our PM and Ministers) they are now againgst the Bhutanese. If he is trying to make some fake news they ahve power and right to fix him up but they dont and never do this beacuse as we all now understood what our Ministers are. Recently MOIC have issued a circular that no add.will be given to the paper the Bhutanese, when CEO charged them they just excused saying bacuse of some errors it happened. It is not mistake but its their Intension and i Request Mr.TL to drag them to the court and Fix them accordingly. What type of High level,Ministers,Secetaries,Dg’s we have in MOIC to do such thing when some body is sheeding their sweats to get rid of Corruption In our Country.

          • You don’t seem to enjoy people who opine against your view. I wonder what type of government your party would make, if ever in the wildest of dream wins the election. 

      • i bet my life. Yes it is. But wonder whether i should count in theBhutanese also or not. As of now it is going great. Kuensel is one that is totally handicap.

    • If this article does not bear any fact, why this DPT govt. is not challenging this paper and file the case in the court of law.  This govt. not being able to proof that they are not guilty, shows they have something to accept but because of ego, they hate to ………….

  8. yeah jampa i agree with you. this paper is trying to create disharmony

  9. I knew it we were never a real democracy especially not with these older ministers and the old mindset. 

    • What did you expect, the government to do everything for you or what.

      • What is the purpose of government? What do you think i should go and solve the INR issues. While country is paying them huge amount of salary they are discussing their benefits.
        We don’t expect government to do anything for us. But we expect them not to create problems for citizen of the country.

  10. A very sad situation for Bhutanese media and democracy. Down with DPT and all that they represent . 

  11. Pema Tshewang Tashi

    Asserting my right to opinion here, I feel the situation is not as bad as the Bhutanese newspaper has sought to present. I think it’s a bit too exaggerated and biased, hence already misleading many readers.
    There are significant number of media houses and personnel alike who while doing their jobs in holding the elected government accountable, are also equally appreciate of the government’s performances and achievements. While I agree that the government has come up the idea of Circulation Auditing of Print Media but its objective was apparently not to “kill off …the press” but rather to encourage quality reporting by the papers (constructive competition amongst the media houses) – for the readers to judge and accordingly opt for it. Hence, the criteria requiring advertisements to be awarded based on the reach of the paper for greater audience.
    Re: Meet the Press session as a feared venue for journalists, I beg to totally disagree with the statement. I have so many journalist friends both in print and broadcast media who would take my side, who sincerely believes that it has facilitated the media to question the entire government over series of issues in just few hours, which again is aired by BBS. I think as public, we are capable of making judgements ourselves when we can see and hear them.
    My objective here is not to defend the government, but try to straighten few things which I believed were not genuine.
    Tenzin Lamsang, if you had written this article, I think you are becoming a bit too personal with PM. Now what is personal to you and whoever is none of our business. But you have no right to mislead us for your personal/political reasons. One thing you probably didn’t mention in your article is that I heard there were times you used to call PM on his cell during Cabinet Meetings, during important govt receptions and at mid-nights…and PM politely answered all your queries. Maybe he stopped answering after sometime because he must have had other important priorities as the head of the govt. Talk about your own principles man. I as a private citizen can even question your loyalty! What do you care? We care about our societal harmony and have deepest faith in Triple Gem!

    • No they are doing great job. Keep going theBhutanese.

    • Well PTT It seems that you are PSO to our PM as you know when and where TL calls our PM and how our PM have answered his quires even during midnidght.Also you know now ehy PM is not answering his quires. PM is paid to do that,this is part of his duty being head of the Government until and unless if its not false information. May i Ask you one Q. How do we take care of our Social Harmony, and having deppest faith in Triple Gem wont help you here. My Answer will be ofcoures Jobs done by TL and we need more people like TL in Medias,Offices,Regions so that we can root out the corruption and gail social harmony. If you ignore the bad deeds done by powerful peoples for the self benefit i Think One day you will know find the word Social Harmony forget about caring it.

      • What great analysis, my advice would be to please stop wasting our time, you have already done it once before, with how your dumb brother lost half his house.

        • so you are here again. Do you have any mental problem or its you charactor. Or Monk and PTT is of same person. Better tell the truth if you are mentally disturbed we will help you to seng you to Siliguri at Rantchi.

          • If the two of us did go to a mental hospital together, I can safely say that they would choose you over me any day.

          • That god knows, but see how many peoples are against you and do you think that we are having debate here to become the topper to gain name and fame. We are doing that beacuse we a concerned citizen of this Peaceful country. We dont want egoistic and corrupted leaders in our country. Have you ever heard of the circular issued by MOIC ( Not to entertain any advertisement from the Paper ”the bhutanese”).

            Now who is baised here. Those leaders are guilty themselve or try to be a Chamcha Giri to PM but the way they try to bring down that paper was totally a great mistake in his life. He needs to be punished by the court of Law for not being responsible as a leader of a Ministry.

          • How many people’s against you, you mean the number of people that are writing nonsense, which includes you. I am not bothered about who writes against me, this a forum where anyone is free to write, but our side is writing the more sensible stuff, that’s what matters at the end.

          • Stupid Monk, Just see the majority, if you are in a community now it is time for you to pack and go. I agree with you some stupid people like you might write nonsence here but not all the peoples are not like your kind. You are the person that what ever you says and writes meant to be 100% right. But what to do our poor stupid is the puppet to DPT ministers and Dogs have to Bark from feeders side otherwise who will look after him. When he is of no use they will kick you out and that is what dogs and Chamchas deserve.

  12. DPT government’s new slogan – “Zero Tolerance to any mention of our corruption”

    With that new slogan and the endless stories of them involved in corruption, the media is bound to get all the tshodas they can get. Not surprised.

    There’s nothing good to talk about the DPT government, and the supposedly good laws (tobacco/ped day) they made, it wasn’t without causing discomfort to the public. With that said, am effing tired of this government! Let’s go back to our plain old monarchy system, where we atleast had wiser kings! In the name of democracy, this government is bringing our country down.

    • How can a wise guy like you write so much of bull shit, less you forget, please be reminded that it was HMk4 that gifted democracy to us and in-spite of all the appeals made to him, HM was adamant that democracy was the best way forward for our tiny country. The fact that we are no more a monarchy is certainly not for lack of trying.

  13. Good job the Bhutanese. As pointed out by some of the commentators, the Bhutanese taking sides with PDP. But I don’t see anything as such. There is no DPT or PDP heart feelings. However, citizens have rights to express their opinions openly or response to unhealthy changes.  I argue that the Bhutanese is trying to inform the citizens where as other medias are chicken hearted. I feel that we the people should be informed about day to day activities of the government.

    On the other hand, past and present governments had been shame of public nor media had guts to question the government about their activities. Decision are always been  a closed door event. However, the government is trying to open up in the recent times but sadly, it is not up to expectations of its citizens. 

    What ever may be the case, we can always cross check whether the information are right or wrong. But to be frank, I am fed up with with story telling tales by our medias. The Bhutanese is going at right direction but as pointed by few in here, media should balance between the good and bad. They should always praise the government or party for achievements, good policies etc. On the other hand, they should always inform citizens of wrong doing of the goverments or parties. 

    In case of Indian democracy, it is one of the best democracies in the world, however, we have enough from them. There are lots of good advanced democracies around the world that we need to take examples. 

    From my personal observation, the Bhutanese is doing a good job and should continue in days to come.  Keep it up and this poor citizen is with you. 

    • When praise is due, it is given, as it is evident in several editorials by The Bhutanese. I have also read critical stories on other issues in this paper. I think they are striking a balance. It’s just unfortunate for the government that so many of its party members are involved in corruption cases one after the other.. And as citizens we have the right to be informed on such matters. We cannot get mad at the journalists for doing their job, instead we should be mad at the alarming rate at which corruption is gaining grounds. Say no to corruption.

  14. The Bhutanese is doing well in reporting. However, from the foregoing discussion transpires that the media is not doing balanced reporting.The paper seems to be targeting the ruling ministers based on the personal level. For example, in Denchi land compensation case, There are 26 land owners whose lands are taken by the Govt. The paper gives name of only one land owner Aum Damchu, because she is related to our hon’ble PM.

    It is felt that only Aum Damchu was paid the cabinet approved land cost of Nu.9,000/- per decimal just because she is close relative of Lyonchen. The paper should have mentioned the names of other 25 landowners so that we could know some of them also are relatives of any other high profile people.

    As per Agayhap, PM is paid to receive telephone from TL lo! What a joke. If in case you hold a PM’s post you will expect a call from TL at midnight! Please write something sense after all JYT is shouldering the responsibilities of one time held by the 4th King.

  15. Mr.Himalaya says:”its unfortunate for the govt. that so many of its party members are involved in corruption cases one after the others”. It is too early to conclude that way because Gyelposhing case is under investigation and in Denchi only people have benefited. Generalizing issues can be dangerous! There are 72 members in the upper and lower houses.

  16. All these scams and cases of corruption… I think all of us want answers. If this government chooses to be indifferent to all these questions arising and gloss over serious issues of corruption, I think it will be a big disappointment for the people with their elected leaders. I for one am thoroughly fed up with this government! Its motto of “Equity and Justice” has been forgotten outright. There is no equity and there is no justice!

    • Government can only do so much. Not that I don’t want government to act against corruption but is it fair for us to ask the government to solve all those problems that apparently happened before it was instituted? Can’t we talk at least with some reasonable sense? 

  17. BELATED JUSTICE WILL BE DONE FOR SURE, PLEASE HAVE PATIENCE UNTIL THE JUSTICE COMES!

    BUDDHA BLESS ALL OF US.

    FOR EQUITY, I AM NOT SURE, BECAUSE ALL ARE NOT EQUAL. SOME ARE TALL< SOME BIG< SOME THIN.

  18. Start an account where supporters can deposit funds to. This will create some independence from the government.

  19. Hi frens, I know you all are very carrying people for our country and people, but I am not sure whether we can set example from china or india and their way of governing… coz this will be red by people from all over the world mena charoos?

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