The Opposition party in a press conference again called on the government of the day to reinstate the three government secretaries who had earlier been surrendered by the government to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).
The opening salvo was by Member of Parliament (MP) Yeshey Zimba who said that the three secretaries were among the most senior, experienced and respected people in the bureaucracy. He said that the government should reinstate them.
The MP asked if the actions of the secretaries had really harmed the national interest. He said that there is a proper process and investigation that should have been done before removing them.
“If the government does what it likes in such a case then what will ordinary people do,” asked Zimba.
He said that Bhutan’s civil service was among the best in the world and also among the least corrupt. He said that secretaries not only implemented policy decisions but also took initiative to take decisions. The MP pointed out that the government, except at the top, was largely composed of civil servants. He said this move by the government would affect the morale of the civil service as a whole.
In a cryptic reference Zimba said that in a small society all secretaries and civil servants talk to politicians.
Zimba welcomed the RCSC decision of not accepting the ‘surrender’ of the government secretaries saying that this shows that the government made a mistake. He said that even if the secretaries are reinstated the damage to them has already been done.
MP Dorji Wangdi said that the three secretaries had been penalized for simply implementing government directives and defending Indo-Bhutan ties.
He said that the whole issue had started from the Ministry of Economic Affairs where the secretary in conveying his minister’s inability to attend an Enertia event in Thimphu was seen as a person blocking it.
MP Khandu Wangchuk said that Dasho Sonam Tshering by virtue of his senior position, and also sitting on important committees could not afford to keep silent against Enertia’s corruption allegations against him as silence could be implied as acceptance. He said that the letter had asked the GoI to look into the issue.
Khandu Wangchuk also defended the foreign secretary Yeshey Dorji saying that he was a senior diplomat twice and an experienced person fully aware of the Indo-Bhutan relations. “He would never write anything that would affect the relations between the two countries,” said the MP.
Both Khandu Wangchuk and Dorji Wangdi said that the Committee of Secretaries which has been disbanded was an important coordination mechanism within the government. They said that the advice of the CoS also gave greater confidence to the cabinet to take policy decisions. The MPs said that the absence of CoS would affect coordination and policy decisions would not be well consulted.
The Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho said that the RCSC should complete its investigation and find out if the three secretaries affected Indo-Bhutan ties, if they exceeded the CoS mandate and if they failed to inform the PM and the Cabinet.
He pointed out that as per the RCSC the cabinet had violated some provisions of the RCSC Act and other laws and who would be held accountable for that.
He also pointed out that like Cabinet decisions are a collective responsibility the CoS decisions should also been seen as a collective responsibility.