While the two incumbent parties reintroduced themselves, the three new parties for the first time introduced themselves and presented their party visions and objectives at the first common forum held for the five political parties at The Royal Thimphu College (RTC) last Wednesday.
The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) was represented by the Education Minister Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel, Opposition Leader (OL) Tshering Tobgay represented the People’s Democratic Party (PDP),
Party President Lily Wangchhuk, represented the Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT), Party spokesperson Norbu Wangchuk represented the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) while the Bhutan Kuen-Ngyam Party (BKP) was represented by Vice-President Tshewang Tashi.
After a lucky draw, the first speaker was Norbu Wangchuk of DNT. He emphasized on setting a role model to other countries as a vibrant democratic country and to make a government where ideas are contested and criticism from the general public is accepted. He stressed on ‘A government that serves and doesn’t need to be served’. He said, “One in every seven Bhutanese faces poverty and starvation.”
To back his delivery he related a story about a certain Aum Demola from a remote village. Her most prized asset was her leftover meal from the previous night that she kept under lock in a wooden box in her hut. She had the key around her neck. He stated, “The fruits of Democracy must reach people like Aum Demola and the Bhutanese must have a secured future.” Lastly he talked on the importance of working as a team and how ‘Nyamrup’ stands for working as one.
The Opposition Leader (OL), Tshering Tobgay gave a few examples from the students of RTC about the sacrifices they made to pursue their studies and the dreams they hold.
He then said, “We lost! We lost by a big margin! But we still worked around the clock to serve the nation as an Opposition party’ which received much applaud and laughter.” The PDP’s main aim is to empower people to live as they see fit with minimum interference. The OL said, ‘Equality, Liberty and Prosperity is what Wangtse Chirphel is all about’ i.e. the party’s ideals.
The Third speaker, DCT president Lily Wangchhuk emphasized on Unity, Prosperity, Happiness and how DCT would work in a harmonious manner throughout the election period.
“After coming so close to death, I have realized that fame, money and material wealth mean nothing in the end,” said Lily Wangchhuk which was a big reason for her joining a political party.
She said she had been successful as an individual till now but realized that she had made no valuable contribution toward her country. Thus, she decided after a second chance at life, that she would work for a greater purpose and be the ‘voice of the voiceless’. Her party hopes to empower the youth as their main aim thus having many young politicians in their party.
The Fourth speaker, BKP’s Tshewang Tashi stated that their party is not one that emphasizes on politics but rather on being exemplary citizens first. “No baby is born evil. Circumstances lead us to be evil,” she said.
On those lines she brought out the importance of investing in people with good hearts. The BKP she said is grounded upon the ideas of compassion and being a good human being. Also she stressed on the importance of having dreams and that every individual is born with his/her own special talents.
Lastly Lyonpo Thakur for the DPT emphasized on the realization and accomplishments of the ruling party.
He said, “98% of DPT’s pledges have been fulfilled! Only three pledges were left unfulfilled and that too for a reason.” He highlighted the drop in unemployment rate from 4.5% to 2.5% as one of the great achievements of DPT. In addition he pointed out the smooth transition of the government from a Monarchy system to a Democratic system under the vision of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. He brought out the significance of democracy in our country as it was a gift from our Druk Gyalpo and how we should strive for a better future.
This was followed by a brief Q and A session where students asked on topics ranging from leadership differences between genders to the promises made by the parties. All the representatives answered at least two questions each taking turns answering them.
The students expressed positivity in the conduct of such a forum because it gave many of the youths at the RTC reasons to vote for their respective parties and also help understand the ideals of the different parties.
The event kicked off at 3 o’clock in the afternoon with a welcome speech by the Director of RTC, Dasho Tenzin Yonten. The forum was moderated by the Bhutan Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBSC) Dawa.
Thinley Choden & Jigme Sonam