The PDP government has come up with a Draft Code of Conduct for its elected MPs including the ministers which allows for the replacement of Cabinet Ministers who fail to perform or get into major controversies like corruption cases.
The Draft Code of Conduct has around 18 general points for all elected members and three additional points for Cabinet members.
It says, “If any Cabinet member fails to abide by this protocol, she or her shall be asked to step down or removed from the post by the Prime Minister, based on the recommendation of the Executive Committee.”
The Code of Conduct was drafted by a special sub-committee of seven members including the PDP General Secretary Sonam Jatso and PDP Spokesperson Tandin Wangmo.
The Code has been given in- principle endorsement by the sub-committee, but some changes are expected before the Executive Committee which includes the Prime Minister gives it a final approval.
“During the last Executive Committee meeting held on 27 July 2013 it was felt that there should be a code of conduct for elected MPs including Ministers. This is also because right from the beginning, PDP has pledged to be a people’s government and whoever is in the Cabinet will serve with utmost humility and will be approachable at all times,” said the sub-committee team leader and PDP Spokesperson Tandin Wangmo.
She said that the Code of Conduct will be an important reminder to the elected members to serve the people well and also fulfill what they have promised during the campaign period.
The party General Secretary Sonam Jatso said, “The idea for such a Code of Conduct came strongly from the Party President himself who backs such an idea.”
It will not be business as usual for the elected MPs and ministers as they will be required, as per the Code of Conduct, to submit four quarterly performance reports to the Executive Committee of the party.
The Committee will use the reports as part of their evaluations to check on the performance of MPs and ministers. The performance of the ministers will be evaluated annually by the Executive Committee as per the Draft Code of Conduct.
He said the Code of Conduct was also inspired from the lessons learnt from the behavior of the previous DPT government which did not have such a code.
Both the General Secretary and Spokesperson also agreed that the Code of Conduct would be one of the main mechanisms through which PDP can ensure a strong internal party democracy.
The Code of Conduct also says that elected representatives should visit their constituencies at least four times in a year to coincide with the two Parliament sessions held every year.
“This means that representatives should visit their constituencies before a session to know about the people’s concerns and then after a session to brief them on what happened in the session,” said the General Secretary.
Tandin Wangmo explained that the idea was to ensure that MPs and ministers would stay in touch with the people of their constituencies and be accessible to them.
She said, “As per the Draft Code, even the Prime Minister would be visiting all 20 dzongkhags at least once in a year.”
An important point in the Code of Conduct is that elected members are to be transparent in governance and accountability to the people and nation.
Tandin said, “This would be more relevant to our ministers, as one of the main platforms on which we fought the elections, was fighting corruption and promoting transparency.”
Sonam said that corruption was even reflected as an issue of major concern in His Majesty the King’s address to the new Ministers.
The Code says that elected members shall exhibit exemplary moral character, public behavior and adhere to the values of Driglam Choesum.
PDP said that this means the elected members must show respect and humility as they would not want their elected members getting drunk in public, using foul language, and engaging in any other misbehavior. They said that elected members should deal properly with the people whom they are meant to serve.
Sonam Jatso said, “Though our main slogan this time was ‘Wangtse Chhirphel’ we have also not abandoned our 2008 slogan of ‘Service with Humility’.”
The other points on the Draft Codes of Conduct are putting the interest of Tsa-Wa-Sum above everything else, upholding and promoting the party ideology of ‘Wangtse Chhirphel’, party values and mission at all times, being conversant with the party charter and manifesto, and taking part in policy decision making in consultation with concerned stakeholders.
Also included are working as part of a team and keeping all concerned informed, keeping in constant touch with the head office, and working in consultation with the secretariat at all times, speaking in the media on party issues in consultation with the media team or secretariat, giving priority to party meetings and playing a pro-active role in all important affairs of the party like fund raising, youth affairs, women’s wing, party membership, etc., for strengthening the party.
The Draft Code also says that elected members shall abide by the decisions taken by the Executive Committee as laid down in the party charter and it also says that elected members have to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the nation at all times.
The party Executive Committee is the highest decision making body of the party which is inbuilt in PDP’s 2007 Party Charter. It consists of the Party President, three Vice Presidents, General Secretary, Spokesperson, women’s coordinator, youth coordinator, treasurer, and representatives from 20 dzongkhags.
Sonam Jatso, however, made it clear the Executive Committee would be there solely for the party and when it came to the government’s functioning, the Cabinet would be the supreme body.