Lingmukha-Teodwang, Punakha

Public debate on Right to Information

In an exciting debate amongst the candidates of Lingmukha-Teodwang constituency of Punakha, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) candidate, Tenzin Tshewang, picked the envelope containing the subject “Right to Information” as his debate topic.

The DPT candidate stated that though it is an individual right to have access to information, there needs to be filtration. He said, “We need to evaluate whether the information is good or bad. If the information is not good, it should not be disclosed, and if it is good and informative, it should and must be disclosed.”

He even cited an example wherein, a few years ago, there was a serious issue within the civil service that even led to a few of the civil servants being demoted, without justification on to why they were treated in such a way.

This, he feels, is a big issue concerning the Right to Information. He also said that even on the social media platform and other information dissemination forums, such as newspapers and other media organizations, they only come up with relevant and concerning issues.

The debate moderator further questioned the candidate, citing that every individual has the Right to Freedom of Speech, Opinion, and Expression granted under the Constitution. But the Civil Service Rules states that no individual has the right to disseminate information.

The candidate said that the Civil Service Rules needs to undergo a few changes since it’s not comfortable, and moving forward in accordance to the Constitution.

DTT candidate, Sonam Wangyel Wang, questioned the DPT candidate on what they would do to the Right to Information Act if the party became the ruling government.

The DPT candidate made clarifications on his previous statement, stating that he mentioned not providing information if it is not good. “When I said we should not provide information, which is bad, I meant that if the information is disturbing to the nation’s security and will have an impact, we shouldn’t give the information.”

PDP candidate, Namgay Wangchuk, said as per the Constitution, people have the Right to Information, and asked if the DPT candidate if there needs to be an Act related to the Right to Information, and if required then how does DPT plan on framing the Act?

The DPT candidate shared that since there are 47 constituencies and related experts, he feels there is a need for the Right to Information Act.

DNT candidate, Tandi Dorji, shared that he does not support the idea of having access to information and Acts related to it. During the DNT tenure, they had proposed the idea, however, it was rejected.

He shared that though access to information is crucial, what is more important is how individuals use it. So, he feels that with access to information, there needs to be another Act that will make those individuals who misuse it responsible and accountable.

The DPT candidate stated that if they make an Act related to the Right to Information, then it will need to cover dos and don’ts while disseminating information.

BTP candidate, Gyambo Sithey, asked how privacy protection will be addressed in the Right to Information Act. The DPT candidate shared that while making the Act, it would need to include privacy protection in it too.

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