It is good to see that the Honorable Prime Minister has responded through his official account on the issue of Sonam Tamang. In times of darkness the words from the head of the government is reassuring and also sends a clear signal.
Lyonchhen is absolutely right that it is not a good idea to move Sonam Tamang in her condition and he is even more right when he says that the government has spared no expenses in covering 30 percent of the medical bills of Sonam Tamang and the travel of her brothers and mother including DSA expenses.
It must be mentioned here that the Office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon facilitated such expenditure as government financial rules do not allow for such ‘Kidu’ expenses.
The Bhutanese paper has done around six stories on the issue of which two were done online. In the five out of six stories we have clearly mentioned the assistance provided by the government, including in the very first story on Sonam Tamang.
However, there are those who question why the media or social media did not cover this.
I am not here to answer for the social media, but I would recommend people to expand their reading habits beyond two lines and a picture on Facebook or Instagram to reading whole news articles on a newspaper, or if Nu 10 per week is going to break the bank for them then read it free on the news websites a few days later. We don’t mind providing that subsidy to keep the people informed.
We will be a smarter country and people and reduce the tendency to jump to conclusions and sway with the lightest of winds.
Coming back to Lyonchhen’s statement, the issue has never been about the government not helping Sonam Tamang or her family.
The real issue is how did she land up in a hospital bed in the first place especially given the trend of two deaths, one coma case, two paralysis cases, 30 TB cases and other mental trauma cases in the Japan case.
The issue is how did the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources allow its embattled Director General to cox Dhan Maya to not make noise and then appoint BEO and its partner SND to be Dhan Maya’s shadow in Japan, despite offers of help from others in Japan.
A BEO whose license is already suspended by the same ministry and whose two owners are now arrested.
The issue is despite a ACC report that clearly showed how the DG went out of his way to favour BEO to the point of threatening students, the government not only did not take action against the DG, but also praised him calling him a ‘hardworking’ and experienced man doing a lot.
Here the blame must be shared by the RCSC which took the same line as the government and disregarded ACC’s recommendation to suspend him until the process is over.
The issue is how did the RBP find the same parents and students complaints and evidences viable enough to arrest the BEO owners, but the government openly disregarded them, took no administrative or policy action and and only promised a loan interest waiver.
The issue is the government initially hinting that Bhutanese students were not able to handle a cultural change or were not hardworking enough when the entire LEP program was fundamentally flawed to ensure students made money for agents and language schools, but the students themselves could not learn or earn.
This was also the experience of students from Vietnamese, Nepalese, Filipino, Indian and other nationalities, but it is easy to blame the powerless youths than hold the powerful accountable.
The issue is the government taking fact finding delegations to Japan, directed by the same people accused by ACC of creating the mess in the first place, and not having the decency to involve parents -despite their requests.
The issue is the government washing its hands off the matter entirely despite heart breaking stories and compelling evidence by students and parents who were forced to approach the RBP in desperation.
The issue is that the vast majority of the 700 students in the LEP program are from humble backgrounds and they were treated as such.
The issue is a foreign social worker and lawyer showing more concern for Bhutanese students than our own government officials.
The issue is the blatant protection of a DG and agents despite an ACC report and allowing them a free hand with government letter heads and approvals.
The issue is the alleged illegal commissions being taken in the name of Bhutanese students from language schools that added to the tuition burden and loan of the students and also alleged illegal commission from the wages of Bhutanese students.
The arrest of the BEO agent is not due to any government action but it is due to the parents and students who never gave up.
With the government openly sympathetic to the Labour DG and not willing to take action against the agent, the parents had to fund their own investigation committee’s trip in Japan that met students there and came out with so many findings. The findings in turn led to an official complaint and this RBP arrest and investigation.
The several government led trips (that refused to take parents representatives) to Japan were nothing more than publicity stunts to show that nothing is wrong.
The RBP must be commended for stepping up where the government has failed.
By Tenzing Lmsang
The writer is the Editor of the paper