Lyonchhen on the role of media, regionalism and anonymous social media users

Addressing the press amidst tight schedule with thousands of well wishers in queue to offer their wishes to the new Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering, in his first address to the press after receiving the Dakyen, said that henceforth,the media houses and the government must work hand-in-hand to bridge the divisions in the country created along the party lines during the election process.

“I would like to remind the people of Bhutan that it is no longer a ‘DNT government’, but the Royal Government of Bhutan that is in power.”

The Prime Minister also asked the media professionals to refrain from addressing the government in power as the‘DNT government’ henceforth.

“The government is open to criticisms from media to maintain proper check and balances, however, we want constructive criticisms and not just for the sake of making one. We expect ethical and responsible reporting from all the journalists.”

“I promise to deal with media heart to heart and not face to face. Let there be no barrier, in terms of space and in terms of language, let’s work hand in hand”, he added.

Lyonchhen said that it would be easy for the media to bully his ministers but if the media gives constructive support to his cabinet members then his team of professional ministers would do well.

He said that a committee would closely follow individual writers and media houses and they individual writers and media houses doing well would be honored and recognized and the good ones would even get training opportunities.

In regard to the palpable existence of regionalism in the Bhutanese politics, Lyonchhen said that the prevalence of such practice based on political lines is debatable.

“Personally, I feel that regionalism will prevail in leaps and bounds if we are not careful henceforth. If the media continues to report on such prevalence without being sensitive about the points that you pick or the stories that you write, and if the media subconsciously tend to divide or widen the gap, elections in 2023 is going to be a very difficult to fight. Since there is enough indication on the truth on regionalism, the media and government must work together to unite the nation,” said the Prime Minister.

Lyonchhen also said that for the same matter, the government will not differentiate between the DPT and DNT candidates.

“I met with the DPT leadership and requested to work together for the next five years, and give the public a fresh perspective on the functioning of both the government and the opposition.”

The PM said the government appealed to the Opposition for the larger good of the nation.

“The government’s first order of business would be to meet with the leaders from the four political parties. We will deliberate and incorporate their relevant pledges and if some of our pledges are of least important we will do away with it.”

With four ministers in the Cabinet having a strong health background, the Prime Minister clarified that the selection was completely unintentional. “I only used the formula to maintain a regional balance by opting three from the south, three from the east, three from the west and one from central, Trongsa, and that aspect of the composition was purely coincidental.”

While answering a question the Prime Minister said that Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen who is now heading the home ministry has been put there due to his age and experience. He said that they did not want any new and fresh ideas in the Home Ministry but rather wanted to preserve Bhutanese language and culture.

“Five years down the line, if DNT fails to perform, every Bhutanese would be affected, and similarly if DNT succeeds, every Bhutanese would be equally benefited. So I would like to request every citizen to cooperate and support the Royal Government of Bhutan.”

Lyonchhen also repeatedly appealed to the media professionals and all the anonymous users to refrain from engaging in divisive politics on social media. “I would like to sincerely request those who hold any anonymous accounts to kindly deactivate their handle and refrain from posting insensitive and divisive posts henceforth.”

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