By Dasho Kunzang Wangdi
It seems like it was just yesterday when the first issue of The Bhutanese was released. It was such a great feeling to be given the honour, as a non-partisan and apolitical figure, and as the first Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan, to be invited at the tendrel ceremony during the launch of The Bhutanese. I thank Tenzing Lamsang for giving me privilege to share the joy of the maiden journey of Lamsang’s dream project with his team.
Knowing Tenzing, as having worked together during the first National Parliamentary Elections, as a no-nonsense and tough talking writer, and in a very sensitive and self-conscientious Bhutanese society, I was worried how the paper would fare.
But this year, as it celebrates its ten years of success, it has done more than mere surviving – proving my fears as sheer misgiving of my skeptical mind.
It was a bright and festive morning on 21 February 2012, and in Thimphu, crowds and performers were all gathered to celebrate the 32nd Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King of Bhutan in Changlimithang National Stadium on that auspicious day.
And 10 years on, the nation and people are observing the 42 Birth Anniversary of His Majesty across the globe, though His Majesty, Himself, was preoccupied taking care of the people under the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Phuentsholing.
As they say well begun is half done, The Bhutanese under the professional care of Lamsang and his ambitious team has come a long way on its journalistic journey. It has been playing a positive role with confidence and as a credible member of The Bhutanese print media.
It has added diversity in news and information for the readers. It has established the reputation as a serious paper. More so, at a time when several print media houses have had to close down or are scaled down to insignificance everywhere, most likely for sustainability issues.
The Bhutanese is here to stay. It has maintained its loyal readership. It is credited for its boldness in covering topical and important issues of huge national importance and significance.
The Bhutanese brings forth topics and issues that may otherwise be conveniently or timidly forgotten or sidelined. It exposes wrong doings and corrupt actions, irrespective of who the alleged perpetrators are.
As The Bhutanese continues to build and consolidate from its lessons learnt, I wish much progress and growth, regardless of the existing challenges that confront the media industry, expanding its coverage on not just urban centric news, but reporting equally also on issues that affect the common men in our communities and Drongsebs.
The media has the role and scope to expose the wrongs and acknowledge the good deeds, as you decide what is news and how it should be reported, at a time when media including social media, has become a potent symbol of citizen empowerment.
Through its impartial reporting on the elephant in the room, let us hope The Bhutanese continues to be respected as a source of credible news and information, and shine the torch of accountability, uncovering waste, corruption, poor delivery of public services, bringing in improvement in the quality of everyday lives and our trust in democracy.
The findings of the recent research studies in media reveal that the monitoring provided by journalists is most useful, for empowering the society, improving governance and exposing fraud.
I wish, therefore, The Bhutanese to serve as medium for true Bhutanese spirit, upholding the best in our institutions, systems and values of the Democratic Constitutional Monarchy.
The writer is the first Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan and a former member of the RRAC, His Majesty’s Secretariat