MP Damcho Dorji on behalf of the two member Opposition party objected to the Prime Minister’s strong language used against the Opposition Leader (OL) and also highlighted how the government had undermined other democratic institutions in a similar way.
“The Opposition party deeply regrets the unwarranted remarks of the Honorable Prime Minister during the recent press conference in which he labeled the OL as ‘unpatriotic and disloyal’ for expressing his view on the UN Security Council bid, and for calling on the government to review its foreign policy,” opposition MP Damcho Dorji told local reporters yesterday.
He said that by calling the OL “disloyal and unpatriotic” the PM seemed to have no respect and regard for the institution of the Opposition party or the duty of the Opposition party as enshrined in the Constitution.
“The opposition party is not surprised that the PM Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley has gone on record to term the OL as “unpatriotic and disloyal”. Such incidences have occurred before, as when the government demeaned the judiciary when they lost the constitutional case,” said MP Damcho Dorji.
He went on to say the government has undermined the institutions of the ECB, ACC and media on various occasions. He said, “the honorable PM seems to have no respect and regard for the institution or duty of the opposition party as enshrined in the constitution.” “This itself shows the government is unpatriotic,” he added.
This statement by MP Damcho Dorji comes following a recent statement by the PM who called OL’s remarks on Bhutan’s bid to non-permanent membership of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ‘very irresponsible, unpatriotic and definitely not coming from the loyal citizen’. The PM’s statement was in retaliation to the OL Tshering Tobgay’s remarks after Bhutan failed to secure a non-permanent berth on UNSC when he termed the government’s foreign policy irresponsible and its bid for the security council seat ‘ill-conceived and misguided.’
In response to a question from a reporter, the OL said, “What the honorable PM has expressed amounts to defamation and mudslinging. That is not healthy for a democracy,” he said.
The opposition party which claims to have a strong defamation case however decided not to press charges nor take it to court as it would further aggravate the situation. “We have decided to appeal to the government to stop these personal attacks and get down to the work at had,” he added.
MP Damcho Dorji felt the ‘unwarranted’ remarks by the Lyonchhen are “an attempt to deflect public attention from the government’s failure to secure the UNSC membership and from the series of allegations of corruption that continue to plague the government.”
The opposition MP further said “the honorable PM’s derogatory remarks indicate that while the government wants to take all the credit for any success, it does not want to be held accountable or face criticism for any of its failures.”
The opposition earlier insisted that the government provide a “complete and public account of the expenses incurred to campaign for the UNSC seat and to explain why so much resources were allocated to an undertaking that we had no chance of winning in the first place.”
However, the opposition is yet to hear from the government on the subject although no official request was made to the government to reveal the accounts.
“It has become sort of a norm as it’s not the first time that we have asked the government for accounts. We have asked the government for the audit report on the lottery scam which has not been provided and we have asked for many such accounts which has never been furnished to us,” MP Damcho said.
The OL also referred to the written request made to the government during the last parliamentary session with regard to details of all the people who accompanied Lyonchhen on the various official trips abroad. “We have not received an answer to that nor have we received an answer to the request for details on all the health referrals to third countries that was authorized by the PM’s office,” he said.
On the PM’s personal remarks that the opposition had no experience in foreign relations, MP Damcho Dorji said the country’s foreign policy is ‘so complicated that it called for such experienced diplomats’.
“Both Lyonpo (OL) and I have been in the government service for almost 20 years and we have had on several occasions rows in shaping our foreign policy as well,” he added.
The OL reiterated on his earlier stand that the “country’s foreign policy has always been prudent given the geopolitically sensitive nature and it has been very much focused and we had called on the government to continue that focus.”