Parties highlight media freedom, economy, corruption and authoritarianism

Representatives of the four political parties, Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT), Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Druk Phunsum Tshogpa (DPT) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) met again yesterday evening to speak on their pledges and strategies to address various issues.

Speakers emphasized on economic development, strengthening democracy, promoting media freedom and zero tolerance against corruption among many others.

DPT’s speaker at the debate, Dr. Pema Gyamtsho emphasized on how the party worked towards standing by its slogan ‘equity and justice’. He said, despite a landslide victory in the 2008 elections, supporters of both parties, DPT and PDP were treated equally in terms of providing services and developmental activities such as constructing farm roads, ensuring telecom connectivity and delivering electricity to many homes across the country.

Dr Pema Gyamtsho said the party would always stand by its manifesto, strengthen foreign relations, support women, disabled citizens, introduce child care centers, promote economic growth and above all ensure self sufficiency by 2020 through various means if elected.

PDP’s speaker Damcho Dorji who is also the party’s Vice President reiterated that its pledge to decentralize powers to the grass roots shall remain strong. He said the party if elected to office will bring about economic development in all corners of the country by developing a Thromde in each Dzongkhag in addition to the existing four Thromde.

He said the party shall promote free media, reduce poverty, initiate better policies in the education sector and civil service, strengthen and support the constitutional bodies, fight corruption, resolve the economic situation and sort out unemployment issues among others.

DCT president Lily Wangchhuk said public consultation shall be prioritized at all times in making new policies or enacting any law.  She said there had been many instances in the past where the previous government failed to consult the citizens before making and implementing any major decisions.

The DCT president also said her party shall place high importance in solving the current Indian Rupee (INR) crisis. She also highlighted how the government denied advertisement to critical media which she said was not a good for a democracy.

The last speaker at the debate, DNT’s speaker Dr Tandi Dorji stressed on empowering people not only during the elections to vote  but at all times even after the new government is formed. He said people today feared the government while the government is supposed to serve and fear the people. He said citizens should not be intimidated at all by the people in power.

Dr Tandi also said institutions such as the media, anti-corruption commission and judiciary among others should be given high importance, freedom and independence in order to fight corruption and strengthen democracy.

He also highlighted on the worsening economic conditions and the need to address it at the earliest. While the government’s report on the economy looks good, he said one must understand that the positive reports are derived from borrowed money and that the country is prospering on liabilities. He said the DPT government made borrowings at an alarming rate, highest in the history of the nation.

Dr Tandi said, above all his party will work towards closing the huge existing gap between the poor and the rich.

During the second phase of the debate, Damcho Dorji in response to a question by Dr Pema Gyamtsho on private media sustenance said if the government abandons private media, it will be difficult for people to believe or trust the information disseminated by government owned media houses.

One of the topics that dominated the debate was women participation in politics. While all parties encouraged more women participation, DCT and PDP strongly supported women quota in politics.

Lily Wangchhuk said most women she talked to across the country desired for women quota which would provide them with a direct platform for participation.

Damcho Dorji said, more than the quota it is very important that enabling environment is created to ensure that women are made equally capable of managing public office.

Dr Pema Gyamtsho said the DPT pledge to promote women participation along with child care and special services for the disabled.

The session also had some tough questions of the ministers taking Prados with an audience member even questioning the GNH credentials of DPT.

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  1. Good luck to Dr.Tandin and DNT if they do get to form the next government, but the way he went on saying that they would consult everyone one on whatever they planned to do was laughable at best. Now seriously, how in the world would a government function if they were required to consult the people every time they wanted to do something, not only is it humanely impossible, it would be very impractical too.

    And in regard to the Pedestrian day, while all the parties except the DPT said that it was unpopular, who knows, if the RGOB did consult the people, they may have got more Yays than Nays. 

  2. The way all the Parties are raving about how humble,” Nyamchu” and so the competitiion continues on how each is more nyamchu than the other. We Bhutanese are all nyamchus. Even the founder of the Wangchuck dynasty started his life as a shepherd in Tang before going to Tongsa to serve the Tongsa Penlop as a mere servant. Many or all of the Party heads call themselves nyamchus, but they are all well to do and have done well in their careers and definitely not destitutes.I think they should rather focus on how they can help our country can move forward economically and help raise our standards rather than playing with the sentiments of our poorer segments of our society. The way the Parties are going, they would like to make Bhutan a socialist state or communism. The world has already seen that this idealogy has failed. We should focus on free enterprise and concentrate on promoting it and then tax the rich and help the poor.
    Allow the people get rich through free enterprise and hard work and they be the inspiration for others to follow. Lets face it, even under most ideal conditions one is always going to do better than the other. One is more equal than the other. The govt. should however, ensure a level playing field and give equal opportunities for all based on their own capacity. 

  3. The page that covers news regarding the debate of different parties such as DPT, PDP and DCT put together is equal to one DNT news covered. It is a campaign time. Therefore, election commission has to have some strategies in place so that news coverage and the pages allocated by the news agencies for different parties should be more or less same especially during campaign period. This would definitely be a free and fair election who ever  wins at the end.   

  4. Public consultation is key to any democratic decision-making process, and that’s why there are MPs and constituencies as bridges to make this possible. If the platform is not optimally utilised, we will have another authoritarian regime in place. We are supposed to go ‘bottom-up’ than ‘top-down’ in a true democracy…

  5. I wrote comments similar to yours long time ago. But way this paper see onli consultation with people and RTI as right method of governance. I was wondering what is consultation means. Lets go back to Tobacco Bill which was considered draconian but by whom? Media and few urban well-offs and yet people say many people opposed. Opposition and media said people were not consulted when it was media who failed to inform people while bill was under discussion and Opposition also went on voting yes toeing NC and DPT line.
    Would people have consulted? Would it have been different. By the way, which people? Smokers? Media ? Health workers? or Non-smokers who shares more harm than anybody else. We have 67 representatives (NC and NA) selected because we vouch for them because we like what they promised.They elected because government can’t ask every people on everything it do everything. Let me say, the moment I feel like shitting, If i have to consult members of my family where to shit, the shit will be in my pant.
    Other parties are saying as if they will have referendum for every acts. If we go by referendum on every thing parliament discussed then it would have taken 50 years even to approve those passed acts.

    RTI is highly desirable but the cost could be worst. Pandora box will be open. A refugees relatives who live in Bhutan could file RTI application. A descendants of Droensep Singye Namgyek could file an application? Some may be legally damaging but others could be socially damaging which is hard to mend breaking into social chaos. Let the democracy function first and talk about RTI later. Let say, 10 years from now. Unemployed youth don’t care about RTI and starving villagers don think about RTI, Elites don’t think about RTI. Only social minor noise maker talk about RTI. Bhutan is only 5 years into democracy. Due possible backlash and social divide, many countries didn’t go for RTI.
    Even in India, world’s largest democracy, RTI has never been effective and corruption is on rise. Speaking as if RTI will solve corruption problem is dream at best.

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