Preventing another Gyelpozhing with RTI

One of the main factors that led to the Gyelpozhing land grab was the refusal by the plot allotment committee members to share information on plot allotments with eligible applicants.

This blanket of in-transparency was used by the allotment committee members to carry out illegal and unethical allotment of plots to those that were not eligible.

Gyelpozhing is a classic example of how corruption thrives in a system that is in-transparent and has no legal obligation on it to share information.

In the Gyelpozhing case while individual accountability is important, what is more important is to correct this system of secrecy, in-transparency and unaccountability which allowed Gyelpozhing to happen. This system in many ways is still prevalent today.

It is in this context that the Right to Information Bill assumes more importance than ever as an important tool that can fix the system and allow ordinary citizens to be informed and aware of what is happening to them.

If an RTI or similar transparency law existed then the Gyelpozhing scam among others would either never have occurred or would have been stopped at the start.

This is because under RTI once Gyelpozhing residents filed a request for information it would have been legally mandatory for the plot allotment committee members to share information on the allotment process. The committee knowing in advance that any illegal decisions would become public would refrain from committing any mistakes.

The information petition filed by the residents would also alert those taking or accepting land that they are getting into a legal and ethical minefield which would soon come under the public glare.

Timely information in this way helps victims by stopping the illegal act and also helps potential perpetrators by preventing them from going against the law.

One of the main observations looking at the allotment list is a clear and visible attempt by the Speaker and his allotment committee members to not only reward their own but also curry favor with a cross section of the high and mighty.

This is another major flaw of the system which encourages people to serve their bosses and superiors for personal advancement rather than being accountable to the people. This unhealthy culture had become such a strong trend that some even had the courage to violate Royal Kasho’s issued by the Fourth King who issued it to prevent such practices.

In a democracy the main principal is that elected leaders are accountable to the people. For the sake of good governance, democratic participation and transparency accountability cannot be only sought only once every five years at the ballot box. It has to be sought more importantly in between these five years by having mechanisms like the Right to Information that empowers ordinary citizens to at least be aware of what is happening to him or her and then take the necessary action.

Right to Information law is recognized and advocated internationally as a best practice law that prevents corruption, improves citizen’s participation in a democracy and leads to good governance and transparency.

With the ACC report on Gyelpozhing there will now be a rush to hold individuals accountable which is important, but it will also be equally if not more important to hold the system accountable and take concrete and long term measures to improve it.

A strong Right to Information law will be a big step in that direction.

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  1. Dates for the new Gyelposhing Tsechu aren’t confirmed yet but we believe it will be hosted by the Mongar Court. The role of Atsaras has been over subscribed. The Chief Atsara will be PM Jigme Thinlay; supported by lower ranked Atsaras of Ministers Yeshi Jimba, Minjur Dorji, Wangdi Norbu, Speaker Jigme Tshultim, Chief Justice Sonam Topgay, MD Chewang Rinzin…
    They say this special item has been scripted by “The Bhutanese”, choreographed by the ACC and will be judged by the Bhutanese public. It promises a show like never before!
    Ticket sales will begin by October and everyone is guaranteed a seat. For those unable to make it, media partners will do their part to ensure every Bhutanese feels they are a part of the show!

  2. Gyalposhing cannot prevented.It is wrong sentence 

  3. well said chogaygyap

  4. “In a democracy the main principal is that elected leaders are accountable to the people.” Yes I totally agree but don’t you know that it was not democracy then? It was a very different situation then. You are getting lost Mr. TL. The two things that I do not like about your reporting are – 1. You are trying to hold the democratic government accountable for the problems that happened when the circumstances were different. 2. By doing this, you are directly targeting the Monarch.  
    Please do not assume that people do not have the capability to analyse your articles. They’d be as analytic as you think you are, if not more. So don’t you think that its high time you put your perspectives right? Trust me, it is really getting  easy to discern what you really are targeting at and for.  

  5. Phunstho:
    Are you saying there was no existence of Law during the era of Monarchy? There was clear rule/Law, these people have taken advantage and they should be brought to the justice. Anything which is done beyond the Law, all should be punished.

    People should assess and judge that there was a blatant misuse and disregard of Laws/by-laws, criteria and prevailing norms for their advantage. It was total miscarriage of JUSTICE and they have taken the laws in their Hand. People involved in such cases should be brought to justice even if it happened several decades. Otherwise people of this country will heavily feel justice is not prevalent in this country.
    Prevalence of INJUSTICE in the country means a clear sign of prevalence of ANARCHY! May God save Bhutan.

    • Exactly, were there no laws then? Laws then should have taken care of the problems. What were the reasons that “people affected” did not use the service of the court then? It also depend on how laws are interpreted. You and I give our own interpretations. Mind you even ACC’s interpretations of laws are not binding, it is ‘the court’ who supposedly give the final and correct interpretations.

       And why is that, I do not feel hatred built in me with such news and developments though I do not own a single decimal of land nor own a house? I think real ‘Anarchy’ awaits us if you want to meddle into the “problems” of the past. How long do you want to go back?  

    • Some section of influential people created the opportunity and misused the power.During the past.,they have looted everything(land,business,Monastries) from the Lama&innocent public.They created a  big stories out of it and still continuing it.Everywhere they are putting a big hand on it and try to take advantage from it.Hope fair justice and peace prevails over it.Condemn those people be it Religious leaders/Leaders/any public who try to mess up others business.

  6. Phuntsho:
    In our honest view, you really need to see such cases very objectively and able to see the broader picture. This is a case where there are collusions almost an organised method to grab the wealth. Should this case be shelved, the 700,000 brothers and sisters of this nation will not be able to digest, let alone questioning and losing respects to our leaders.

    Yes, it happened prior to democracy, then are you questioning our Monarchs stating that there was no proper system. These bunch of Ministers and others have violated in spite of having clear criteria, rules and framework for allotting land as clearly stated by ACC and some are posted in the Cabinet Website along with the LJYT Press Release- you can have a look.

    If not handled properly, this will lead to miscarriage of justice and such act needs proper investigation even if it happened several decades back. For God sake, you do not try to breach the rule of Law which is important for the sake of nationhood. It is better to honourably accept if the prevailing criteria/framework have been violated rather than defending with no substance. Mind you, all of us as responsible citizen, it could happen to us and we need to be responsible for it. People in the village contribute tax, work hard in the field, they do not get hefty/fat salary and allowances like Ministers and influential family.

    The land need to be publicly auctioned or give to zimpon’s office for kidu to landless people. People involved in Gelephu land case including Dasho Drangpon – what happened? Samtse mining? Education Ministry? MOH? Forestry officials? This needs careful handling of the case and finally should arrive at win-win situation.
    Should this case be de-railed, people will request the government to frame two Laws one for “small fish” and the other for the “Big Fish”. I guess, there are so many ways to honourably accept the mistakes if what ACC has stated is true instead of defending unnecessarily without substance and concrete Rules/criteria to back up.

  7. We will  never dare to target royal family, not even in our dream. what we are today is because of our beloved kings, the sacrifices they made for the people, even if we die 1000 deaths we cannot be 1%op of what our monarchs have done for the wellbeing of our country. On the other hand there are some influential people who are challenging the monarch by ignoring the kasha n allowing the land to themselves n friends. Secondly, the cabinet tried to share the power of king to grant land as kidu which are simply disgusting. 

    We all have seen this that is why people are raising concern over some issues. We are not here to support opposition or RL or TheBhutanese just to bring down pm but to thank them for bringing those hidden issues to us and to see for ourselves. 

    The way u r supporting pm simply shows ur strong confidence in him which can mean u r either siblings or close relatives of him. We r very sorry if we hurt ur emotions but fact is fact n is given in all media over and over again. May be this time it is pm but next time it will be others, u just have to wait n watch and let media do its job. We are grown up enough to differentiate what is right n wrong, it is just so sad to see that u cant see or ignore to see or admit it. WE FULLY SYMPATHASIZE WITH U.

  8. Well said Sunmoom

  9. Social unrest happens when two rules are applied to the small&big,poor&rich,servants&masters,peon&Lyonpo.May Bhutan rest in equanimity and peace.

  10. The "TRUE" Bhutanese

    I don’t agree that the media or the public need to know each and everything the government does. Else, we will be giving more interviews than doing useful work for the country and people. That will be ironic. Further, the disclosure of every piece of information in the government’s possession to the public could prove detrimental for the country’s peace, harmony and security.

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