OL says Govt’s UNSC bid and foreign policy has damaged Bhutan’s national interests

The Opposition Leader said the UNSC bid was the PM’s pet project since 1999 as the then PM.He also accused the PM of insulting Bhutan’s armed forces and hurting Bhutan’s international standing

Despite a scathing attack by the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader not only stood by his earlier statements on the UN Security Council Bid and Bhutan’s foreign policy but also raised additional points and questions on the issues.


Personal attack

The Opposition Leader in an exclusive interview with The Bhutanese said that the Prime Minister calling his UN bid comment ‘irresponsible and unpatriotic’ not coming from a ‘loyal citizen’ was a personal attack that lacked any substance.

The Opposition party member Damcho Dorji read out and stated the Opposition party’s stand on the issue in a general press conference later on Friday afternoon (see page 3 for press conference story)

The Opposition Leader said, “I am not surprised as the Prime Minister has consistently sidelined, intimidated and even attacked any and all alternate views especially those that challenge his own views.”

He said that he was not surprised with the personal attacks and he saw it coming. “That said I am deeply saddened that the head of the first democratically elected government would resort to mudslinging, fear mongering and personal attacks to divert the nation’s attention from the real issue at hand.”

He said he expected that in the ‘Meet the Press’ the government would give counter arguments which they didn’t and rather focused on personal attacks.

The Opposition Leader also stated that in a democracy where there is free speech the Opposition Party or any other ordinary citizen can comment and criticize the country’s foreign policy.


PM’s pet project

The Opposition leader pointed out the fact that when the decision to run was made in 1999 the current Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley was at the time the Prime Minister from 1998-1999 and the foreign Minister from 1998 to 2003 as well.

“I say this (UN bid) was ill conceived as the same Prime Minister was the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister then in 1999. It looks like more than the foreign policy of a country it is driven by one person’s perceived priorities for the country,” said the Opposition leader

“Between 1999 and 2010 there was absolutely no interest and suddenly in this government’s term there is interest,” he added.


Damaging our national interest

“The government’s biggest foreign policy move is the UNSC bid that is a significant move away from the earlier foreign policy. This significant move has damaged Bhutan’s international standing and our national interests,” said the Opposition leader.

He said that any diplomat with any meaningful experience would have said that Bhutan did not stand a chance and that we should never have continued.

“On the campaign itself the government said that they went all out with no stones left unturned, if that is the case then we have to seriously evaluate our capacity in international diplomacy as we got only 19 votes. If we were serious and ran a serious campaign we would have got more than 19 votes. The government should never have gone for the bid,” he said.

“Among countries that campaigned for the seat we probably got among the lowest votes,” said the Opposition Leader.

The Opposition leader said that his earlier statement is very clear. He had said that ‘Bhutan has always followed a prudent and far-sighted foreign policy befitting a small country located in a geo-politically sensitive region has served us very well’.

“My statement is based also on information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. We also believe that while continuing with a conservative foreign policy the focus of the government should remain within the country where a lot of work remains to be done,” said the Opposition leader.

One of the biggest events of the UN bid was a meeting between Bhutan’s Prime Minister and the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo where leaders of both countries were quoted by the international press saying that diplomatic relations would soon be established between both countries. Bhutan’s PM was looking for Chinese support on the UN bid.

Apart from the fact that China eventually backed Cambodia, statements from the meeting generated considerable speculation in the international and Indian media and official circles on Indo-Bhutan and Sino-Bhutan ties.

The Opposition leader said, “This matter is related to the UNSC bid. If the Prime Minister wants to meet the head of our neighboring countries he should do it but properly given the geo-politically sensitive nature of our region, and without upsetting the sentiments of India and certainly without raising unnecessary suspicions.”

“We are a small country and our independence and sovereignty cannot be taken for granted and we need to build to strengthen it. A lot of it has to do with strong fundamentals within our country but also a consistent and predictable foreign policy,” he added.


Quality over Quantity

The PM had also stated that for the sovereignty and independence of a small country like Bhutan, having relations with as many countries as possible was vital. One of the reasons for joining UN was to secure the sovereignty and independence of the country. He also said that a lot of foreign aid for capital works came from outside.

“Yes, we are members of so many committees and commissions in the UN. For Bhutan in terms of foreign relations what matters more is quality than quantity. The big numbers are not going to jump for Bhutan. In fact though we had relations with around 42 countries more than 50 percent of them did not vote for us,’ said the Opposition leader.

On the foreign aid component the Opposition leader said that the government should give the numbers instead of broad sweeping statements. “Besides Government of India, Japan, European Union, World Bank and Asian Development Bank what new donors have come?”


Insulting the armed forces

Lyonchhen in his reply to the Opposition Leader had said “Making contact and interacting with other countries ‘strengthens our image, raises our profile, and enhances and secures our sovereignty.’ He added that Bhutan’s sovereignty and independence can hardly be guaranteed by its army.”

The Opposition Leader picking up on this issue said, “I disagree with the PM completely and absolutely when he said that Bhutan’s sovereignty and independence can hardly be guaranteed by its army. It is an insult to our armed forces that have and continue to put their lives on the line day in and day out to guard our borders and to protect the sovereignty of our country,” said the Opposition leader.

“The PM already seems to have forgotten that it was our armed forces under the personal leadership of His Majesty the Fourth King who secured our sovereignty by flushing out militants who were well entrenched, armed to the teeth and highly motivated. It was in 2003. I cannot believe that the PM has already forgotten the sacrifices of our armed forces and their contribution towards securing the sovereignty of the country,” added the Opposition Leader.

He said that even today there were elements outside the country that brought occasional threats to the government and the country and it was the men in uniform laying down their lives to protect the country. “We should be celebrating our armed forces and not undermining their capability,” said the Opposition leader.


The GNH argument

The Prime Minister in his response to the Opposition leader said that Bhutan is a ‘thought leader’ in a world that has no vision.

The Opposition leader said, “Whether we are a thought  leader in a visionless world or not is immaterial, unless we can prove the prosperity and happiness levels within our own country. Unemployment is on the rise and there are thousands of youth without jobs, alcoholism and alcoholic diseases are on the rise, juvenile delinquency and vandalism is becoming rampant, our suicide rates are a cause for concern, our economy is under threat, most of our farmers still continue to struggle eking out a subsistence living and many high level corruption cases are on the rise.”

He also said that Bhutan’s decision to spearhead and parade the concept of GNH in the world has taken a lot of resources and the Prime Ministers time. He said Bhutan has benefitted, but not commensurate with the investment especially since there was no focus at home.


Apples and Oranges

In response to the Prime Minister’s statement that using the same UNSC logic PDP should also not have participated in 2008 the Opposition leader said it was like comparing apples and oranges.

“In losing the UNSC bid we have minimized our international standing since we lost by such a big margin. Where as in 2008 firstly we believed that we would win and secondly while we lost we got 33 percent of the vote. It is not the trashing that the seats in the Parliament seem to suggest and thirdly in losing we have secured the responsibility to serve the nation as a loyal opposition,” said the Opposition Leader.

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  1. The picture says it all – OL is NOT happy at all, & he’s garnering the support of the armed forces.
    I’m also beginning to feel that the PM does sideline, intimidate and even attack alternate views that challenge his own views. But why is OL bent on bickering about something that’s pointless now when he did not say anything earlier. And I’m curious why PM thinks it’s unpatriotic, after all what’s the point in having the Opposition.

  2. well done OL

  3. It seems OL is getting desperate day by day. He thinks he can run the country just because he ruined PDP. Many good candidates of 2008 left for other parties including Dasho Damchoe. ‘

    Now he wants to play spoiler polarizing the country, people and armed forces. If you can’t be be unifying figure, don’t be dividing figure. What PM said was not a insult, it was a truth.
    Yes, armed forces under enlightened figure of king flashed out militants. Did OL know how many Indian commandos were heliping, did OL understand it was operation not a war, did OL understand, Bhutan ambushed militants, did OL even think why Indian army is there in every nook and corner of Bhutan?

    Yes, armed forces play vital role in safeguarding nation but how many countries in world have known there is country called Bhutan. Whether win or lose, more 193 countries now knew there a country called Bhutan with unique identity?

    • Anyways OL is playing his role. OL’s words are very practical. I strongly agree with him…..

    • defox,
      I think u r not fair in your views. Let us agree that we are democracy and in democracy views are being expressed. It is the right of every citizen to make their opinion heard and the OL is representing them too. Just because PM does not like the criticism does not mean that someone is unpatriotic. This is a dangerous trend set by the Hon.PM who is suppose to lead us with example with tolerance and accommodation.
      Coming to ur point of involvement of Indian commandos, i think you are ignorant here. I was lucky to be there at the front line with our armed forces and there were no Indian forces what so ever with our armed forces.

      • PM has got example to set while the OL is okay to be irresponsible and use any language he want to use? PM has no right to express his opinion while rest of the citizens have every right to express? You call it democracy only if the later is allowed to do so? I call it democracy when both parties are allowed to freely and responsibly express their opinions. 

  4. Cheers to OL and PDP for the gut they muster to speak against JYT..

    • I really support OL’s argument on PM’s GNH preaching abroad. These are all live evidences. After all charity begins at home…..

  5. Whom to believe now? So many arguments in the land of GNH

  6. OL a Man who will become a mouse after his brief stint in a Lion’s mask

  7. I am really fed up seeing perosnal level arguments between the two most important figures in the parliament. Boht PM and OL do need to think twice before they show thier differences. As a citizen, I would like to see these two persons arguing and critiquing in how they can solve the present financial crisis, which the nation faces at the moment, rather than arguing on useless things.
    For OL, what is the use of bringing the issue about the UN council bit when it is over already. Did he say a word of aganist when this govt. pronounced thier bidding in the UNSC? I do not rem., he did. For, PM, being a very intelligent and experinced and trusted figure in the nation, why does he has to challenge? I think he needs to learn how to accept and look forward in positive ways, so that the nation is not suffered because of thier differences.
    From my side both are equally wrong. But off late, I saw this paper always try to side with OL. This paper should also think carefully, so that readers are not misguided by thier biased opinion.

  8. OL is just making a fuss out of nothing. I personally as a Bhutanese feel proud that Bhutan atleast participated in the UNSC bid . I personally do not like when some foreigners say, “Bhutan? Where is that?” . We need to be known in the world as well. OL, please do not object on every move of government just because you are OL and should object. Move that out of your mentality and support government sometimes as well.

  9. This clearly shows how farsighted is opposition leader.

  10. Pro democracy

    I as a lay man I had this thought few days ago.. That why is OL crying over a issue which we could have won but we didn’t. We as a aspiring nation went to give it a try.  If we would have won the seat or atleast go pass the first round we will now be praising and singing the JYT songs and praises.
    Well, things didn’t turn out that way. It is sad. But what next??
    I think the OL being the member of a opposition party have a role which is enshrined in the constitution. To keep the government on a toe whether it is foreign policies or it is the corruption within the country. Just imagine our country without a opposition party… Or opposition party without a role but to run around the government seeking goodwill… Can you imagine this. I think OL is doing a awesome job. There are only 2 members who are trying to keep 45 ruling members on toe. The 45 member fear the 2 opposition members because they are given the power by the constitution.
    Well, coming to the polarization of the voters, i think the OL is answering the points raised by Hon’ PM. Being a Prime Minister of a country have to think before speaking. We all know, our army is nothing compared to the two big neighbors, but talking in the public, on the media by the PM. I think that will demotivate our brave soldiers on the border.
    Good lessons to learns from this. 

  11. Hi Defox,
    Don’t try to personalize the things on common issue. What the OL said is very rational. Just because you don’t like OL doesn’t mean that you should always support our PM. Think twice when you comment such kind of issues.

  12. Lets get it right this time.I don’t think UNSC bid was PM’s pet project.However, if it is, all the citizen should support it.In the unsure times like this,Nation’s security and sovereignty should be given high priority,especially, tiny nation like ours.IF you happen to drop by somewhere in central India,there are lot more than expected Indians, thinking that Bhutan is one of the Indian states.There is no appropriate word to describe those ‘unpatriotic and disloyal”, who opposes it.Terrorist could be little too intense, though. we cannot  trust our National forces,if it means a war. PM is working for future Bhutan, while OL wants him to be in the pond with much excuses of rupee crisis or whatever. 

  13. sanja , fully agree with you. yes, there is no doubt that PM is serving his sole purpose and OL on the other hand is looking for loops holes only after an action,,,,both are are stupidly attacking each other and trying try divert attention of  people so that both of them look fair in their doings

  14. I do not understand why OL can say PM’s policy is misguided and ill conceived but PM cannot say OL’s comments are disloyal and unpatriotic. If OL did not make his remarks, PM would not have responded. If Pm’s remarks are not rational, then OL’s remarks also can’t be rational. One thing I do not understand why OL thinks that it would have done more harm than good for Bhutan if we secured a seat in the UN Security Council. Every nation aspires for that prestigious seat but OL thinks otherwise.

  15. Does anyone know where the FORUM in Kuensel site is gone?  
    Welcome to the Land of Funny Democracy

    • This is a blatant suppression of freedom by the dpt govt.This govt will be known for ban and autocracy. May to prevent people from talking on land scam where its leaders are implicated and charged in the court of law.

  16. Regarding the prime minister’s stunt on the China issue, he completely ignored informing even the throne & went ahead until it backfired with egg on his face.

  17. I think OL should not get angry like that.  Look at his photo, he looks so childish mena.

  18. Well done ans well said, OL. Keep up your good work and balanced analysis. When half of Thimphu, the capital city, forget about whole Bhutan does not get regular water supply, what good is a seat in UNSC. When our health system still prescribes expired or wrong medicines, when we still have to travel via India for traveling east west and when our country have no money to pay for our debt, what is UNSC? 

  19. OL should not do like that PM is doing good for our country ..

  20. OL is now trying to garner the vote of armed forces. No instigation will work. They are no kids any more. If china or India wants to bully Bhutan, what will our army do, in fact the whole population will be defeated by a battalion of CRP.. There is no insult to our DAKHA SUM. CHEERS!

  21. Both OL  and PM are very capable, talented and well deserving person in the present post. I see them as the best debater with thoughtful words. But, what I also see in them is, they are more concerned about their self, their post and about the upcoming votes. Otherwise, OL could have supported some of the issues and changes brought by the present govt. Whiwh never happened. The PM could have responded to the OL’s comment in a respectful manner, but till date I haven’t seen PM being so generous and showing concern to OL’s words. It could have been different, if few capable people in the nation, like PM and OL could stop personal arguments, stops defaming eachothers and instead works towards the betterment of the country and its people with respects to each others.
    Coming to the post, I guess it’s right for OL to question the PM but there isn’t any need to call it ill-conceived and mis-guided when it’s all over. Also PM doesn’t have to say OL disloyal and unpatriotic, but could have answered OL in a more respectful manner. Now, I hope both of them stop arguing and think for the betterment of the country. 

  22. Is this really  the role of OL?or as he says always is he voicing for nation? if it so, then he shud hav raise the issue while campaign was underway. why after???

    • His brain was hibernating during the campaign since there was no stimulus from the media. So he waited to rub salt in the cut. 

  23. Prince of Pangthang-daza

    I think the PM saying the OL’s remarks was disloyal and unpatriotic was petty, childish, irresponsible and unbecoming of a Prime Minister. I think such remarks expose one’s own failings. Could the greatest fault of our PM be that he cannot accept criticism from anywhere and seems to think he is always right.
    I also think the OL on his part should not have tried to defend and justify his own statements. By doing so he put himself in the same situation as the PM. Perhaps a lesson or a reminder for both is that they are both there to serve the same nation and the same King and people.
    And people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

  24. I am utterly surprised at the way the arguments are raised. I am in a way surprised that sometimes our politicians lack the basic qualities. 🙂

  25. The OL is always asserting his right to criticize the government and the PM on all issues But he is almost saying that it is unconstitutional for the PM to criticize him for once.. What is his problem?

    • OL has only a few months left in his current position as the OL, after the next elections, we won’t be hearing from him anymore and hopefully when the OL goes, this paper too will be history.

  26. OL is taking our Monarchs and armed forces for fool. He is trying to divide these institutions, the government and the people hoping to garner supports. He fails to fathom that the Bhutanese are united in general and his effort at division to creating doubts will not work.  

  27. the opposition seems to think they can criticize the PM and the government at every issue and expect them not to react. if they want to criticize  then they should be ready to face criticism as well. word of advise for the opposition – stop barking and work on your own party. when your own party people leave to join other parties, it says alot about how they feel about you and your leadership.

  28. Actually it is needless to have such type of arguments between two important leaders in the country. What I feel is OL could have raised the issues before itself when the government conceived the idea of bidding for UNSC. I am sure OL must have been informed about the Governments’ plan to bid for UNSC…

    Now when the Government could not secure seat for the UNSC OL is criticizing it … which he could have done it before itself … if the OL thinks it in the manner he expressed at this point of time, he should have prevented the government from bidding itself …

    I think Opposition party is there in place to oppose the ruling party if the government is not taking our country to right direction, but opposition party need to act at right time and at right manner ….. OL cannot just watch and let it happen, if it is not going to benefit the country … not just criticizing Government when they could not succeed

  29. khashapa drukpa

    above all i feel proud of 2 strong member keeping good eye on issue. if this 2 ol is supported by dr kunga and other capable member it will sound more practical. and real Gnh country

  30. nice of u all…….gud observation……..ol is doin fine

  31. This media as I see gives blatant views about the ruling government and doesn’t support the medias purpose for vibrant democracy, your issue and views about the present government should be raised on the current issues what country is facing and interview people who want to change Bhutan literally not discuses and bring up childish arguments, that day has already been passed, stop advertising OL,no disrespect!! 

  32. The respected OL needs history lessons. He just talks without any vision and substances. He sounds like a kid talking about politics… He has learnt nothing from our kings and great forefathers. People, be careful when you make your choices. PM cannot go out and talk in a way OL does because he understands how uninformed and naive the OL is. It would be self destructive for PM himself and the nation state, if he answers in the same manner OL accuses him. PM should have some deep thought provoking talks and arrange lessons for OL, if that is possible. Be careful, my folks. Bhutan calls you to make cautioned choice.

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