By Dorji Pavo Phuntshok
Congratulations to The Bhutanese, and to its founder and editor Mr. Tenzing Lamsang for surviving, at times thriving, for a decade – especially so under challenging conditions for the media in the country. Earning credibility, and retaining trust is a challenging endeavour. The Bhutanese, now having established a sound track record, adequate, I presume, even for sceptics; I am sure that the paper can look forward to more, better decades.
The Bhutanese, because of the character of its founder and editor, has been bold in covering sensitive issues, almost always covering in depth to provide important information to the citizens of Bhutan to make considered judgement.
For a small Bhutanese society, it’s not always easy, or convenient to be courageous in bringing forth sensitive issues. Other newspapers in the country, constrained either by nature of ownership or competence have either not covered, or done so cursorily, on many of the controversial subjects. As a community, we owe much to The Bhutanese for persistently covering such topics and shining sun light on them. Kudos to Mr. Tenzing Lamsang!
As I spent my entire career in the hydropower sector, I am aware of the issues covered by The Bhutanese in this important sector – Jewel No. 1 at one time! Be it procurement or contractual, technical challenges, breakdowns, failures, The Bhutanese has covered them with finesse and surprising depth of technical knowhow and details.
As I strongly believe that hydropower is critical to this nation’s welfare, addressing the concerns of fellow citizens, placing issues in proper perspective, informing about the enormous challenges facing the sector, particularly in construction is important for acceptance of this undertaking as crucial for our common welfare, continued sustainable development and operations.
As a society, we have made enormous progress in the whole management chain of hydropower development and operations in the decades since commissioning of Chukha Hydropower Plant in 1986-88. While we certainly need to discuss and manage the challenges facing the sector, I also feel that we must cherish and celebrate the substantive progress, particularly in national competence development: my request and hope is that The Bhutanese will also provide some space for covering the achievements and progresses. If there’s a cardinal rule for media to cover only the failures and challenges, I pray that the rule be broken and space be also provided for covering success stories too.
With ubiquitous social media, everyone has now access to a megaphone; even by those with good intentions, spewing of misinformation, fear mongering, “fake news” are serious challenges – all the more important for papers like The Bhutanese to provide facts, often obtained with difficulty, to place matters in proper perspective. As a democracy struggling with teething challenges, sensationalizing of problems makes even easily available solutions that much more difficult to adopt.
Based on the subtle role The Bhutanese has already played in highlighting the true character of the political parties and politicians, I firmly believe that papers like the The Bhutanese continue to play a crucial role in the Bhutanese system of democracy as the Fourth Estate.
The success of The Bhutanese over its first decade is solely on the courage, dedication, drive and competence of its founder and editor Mr. Tenzing Lamsang. If the paper is to continue to serve this nation meaningfully, the character of the paper has to progress beyond an individual, and be institutionalized. My request and hope is that Mr. Lamsang shall pay attention to this in the coming decade and that the character and performance of The Bhutanese transcends its founder. I wish both the paper and its founder success in these. May you continue to serve this Kingdom well!
The writer is the former Director of Projects of the Druk Green Power Corporation and is associated with all the major powers projects in Bhutan like Chukha, Tala, Dagachu and Tangsibji and he also started the Bhutan Hydropower Services Limited.