When the Gyelpozhing story first came out in the news, it was met with fervent denials from the incumbent government, along with pleas of innocence lead by the former Prime Minister.
The unquestioning news coverage of those initial pleas of innocence by some major media houses lead many in the public to actually believe that those charged were, indeed, innocent.
The incumbent government maintained the same stance even after the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) investigation had established that things had gone wrong in Gyelpozhing.
The government even went to the extent of using the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to try and stop the ACC prosecution on the case. Furthermore, the incumbent government toured around the country saying nothing went wrong in Gyelpozhing, even after the District Court and High Court charged those involved in the case with the guilty verdicts.
When the Bhutan Lottery story surfaced, the government issued denials until the audit report from Royal Audit Authority (RAA), confirmed our worst fears.
Again in the Chang Ugyen case, even after the former DPT Vice President lost the case in the High Court and was asked to hand back the acres of land, the former Prime Minister came to his defense, and also went on to writing a recommendation letter on his behalf to the National Land Commission to rescue him.
After the government lost the Tax Case in the Supreme Court, it went on a 20 Dzongkhags whistle stop tour questioning the verdict, and even offering to resign.
The Rupee and Credit Crisis are getting worse by the day and have pushed the economy into a freeze mode, but the economy is supposedly booming- according to the State of the Nation report.
There are many more examples of the incumbent government’s typical flaws, when it comes to accepting issues and facts that do not show them in a good light.
One flaw is the almost automatic denial mode of the very existence of issues that are inimical to its interests.
The other immense flaw of this incumbent government and party is its near pathological urge to lie to the nation and the people as seen from the above examples.
When a lie is caught, it is their reaction to issue even more cover up lies or to simply twist the facts.
Therefore, the DPT’s reaction to this paper’s story on the former ministers’ and their spouses owning land near the Education City should not come as a surprise.
It should also not come as a surprise that the same party that can go to the extent to questioning the sanctity of the Supreme Court of Bhutan on the tax verdict, is questioning the credibility of The Bhutanese over the story it does not agree with.
The government could not legally hit back as the paper on the Gyelpozhing and Chang Ugyen stories which are based on facts and evidence. Instead, the incumbent government found other means- such as issuing a circular marked ‘Confidential’ in red ordering government agencies not to do business with The Bhutanese.
Even when this circular was brought out in the public domains- it was met with more denials and imaginative excuses.
For a party and its leadership that is not used to accepting the facts and also not hesitant to hit back, it uses such ploys like defamation of the paper through the National Common forum on BBS and other Press conferences. This shows the coordinated attempt to suppress the Freedom of Press.
Two days after The Bhutanese ran a story on Education City – the first to hit back in the coordinated ploy was DPT’s Khamdang-Ramjar MP, and followed by the DPT party president.
The ex-PM has accused the paper of being a defamatory paper defaming the Royal Government and DPT. This is a confusing statement given that the Gyelpozhing was affirmed by an ACC investigation and High Court verdict, and Bhutan Lottery scam was confirmed by the audit report issued by RAA. The real meaning of defamation means information that is not true, and so far DPT has not been able to make such a case against the paper on such legal basis.
Such ploy to defame the paper was followed by a DPT candidate from Bongo-Chapcha making the wild accusation in the BBS common forum that the paper is owned by the former Opposition Leader’s brother. An accusation that has no basis in facts, as can be verified from the Registrar of Companies. The accusation must be backed by facts and evidence, as there is no escape from such truths.
However, most troubling of all the accusations are the ones coming from the former Prime Minister that links a national newspaper, The Bhutanese to the anonymous online social media site, Bhutanomics. This comes despite, The Bhutanese, pointing out that many other DPT leaders and supporters accused of owning land as divulged in Bhutanomics are innocent.
The Bhutanese has neither the time nor the resources to run an anonymous website. The core value of the paper is to fight corruption and inform the people on critical stories that affect every Bhutanese. So far, our stories- as bold as they appear are backed by evidence and facts, and The Bhutanese stands accountable to all its readers.
One would suspect that the ex-Prime Minister knows very well that The Bhutanese and Bhutanomics are separate entities, but prefers to anyhow go along with a coordinated DPT strategy to defame the paper for obvious reasons. Such strategy adopted by the DPT, as proven in the past, has only backfired, and made the situation worse. The Bhutanese is proud to be an independent voice that promotes the truth, without fear or favor.