The decision of the government to send the Foreign Minister on ‘authorized absence’ over the Lhakhang Karpo case is a good decision that will stand the government in good stead.
The move sends a strong and unequivocal message that corruption at any level will not be tolerated.
Though the case is in court and only the final verdict will decide the fate of the Foreign Minister, his stepping down and the government’s acceptance of it sets a good precedence of accountability and respect for the law.
As pointed out by the Prime Minister himself, the previous government had set a very poor precedent with the Gyelpozhing case.
Not only did the charged former ministers not step down, but the OAG said there was no case against them forcing ACC to take up the prosecution. The OAG which is the legal arm of the government not only tried to prevent ACC from filing a case but it also prevented the former ministers from being suspended.
In a strong legal, moral and ethical contrast the current Foreign Minister and his government, who could have used the same excuses, instead chose the higher road of stepping down and letting OAG do its job.
Far from trying to stop the prosecution it seems the government was in fact worried that OAG was taking too long to file charges in court against the minister and others.
This move by the government in one stroke not only strengthens the ACC but it also restores credibility to the OAG. In the longer term such a move will only strengthen democracy and good governance.
The key to good governance is good leadership, and the heart of good leadership is leading by good examples and action. The government of the day, in this case, has set a good example.
Politically it is never easy for any political party to see one of its minister’s voluntarily step down when he is yet to be proven guilty. Therefore, it is important to have strong and committed political leadership at the top so that such decisions become the norm.
This move also demonstrates that the PM and other senior leaders have strong political and moral authority within their own party and are not afraid to use it.
Democracy is not only about the Constitution and formal structures like the Parliament, political parties etc but it is also equally about setting the right political precedents which ultimately becomes a part of the mainstream political culture and practice.
The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves