MoE refuted allegations but denied to share information on the DMSS principal’s case
Doubts on equity and justice with regard to the two principals’ cases still remain unclear as exchange of allegations continue between parties and individuals involved.
Kinley Tenzin was compulsorily retired from his post as Principal of Mindruling Community Primary School (MCPS) in Dumtoe, Samtse 20 months ago on grounds of alleged misuse of funds, non-payment of salaries and allowances to two contract teachers and a NFE instructor and unauthorized absenteeism from office.
He claimed that he was innocent but was disallowed to present his case and removed from office because he was suspected to have supported the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2008 elections. His NOC was also withheld which kept him unemployed for almost two years.
RCSC commissioner Kinley Yangzom said the commission as an appellate body looked into the case presented by MoE following an appeal from Kinley Tenzin. “Our mandate is not only to maintain discipline among civil servants but also to protect them if one is not found guilty,” she said.
RCSC’s investigation showed that Kinley has accepted all the allegations made against him with some clarifications. “The action taken by MoE was justified and we upheld the ministry’s decision,” she said.
However the commissioner said cases related to political affiliations are not investigated by RCSC and the commission had nothing to do with it apart from investigating on the administrative and managerial lapses.
RCSC official Namgay Wangchuk said such cases are handled by specific authorities and law enforcement agencies like the court or election commission and that Kinley had the option of filing the case with court.
Kinley said that in a much more serious case the principal of Dorokha Middle Secondary School (DMSS) Tashi Phuntsho did not face any actions due to his linkages with the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and for cooperating with the education minister Thakur Singh Powdyel.
Tashi Phuntsho is currently working as a teacher in Norbuling, Gelephu.
The Bhutanese has a copy of a complaint letter signed by 11 teachers of DMSS that accused Tashi Phuntsho of sexual misconduct, making pornography, misuse of resources, vandalizing school property, misuse of school budget, misuse of services of non-teaching staffs, unauthorized payments made, harassment, manhandling of students’ parents, hospitalizing and terminating students and misuse of school’s ICT facilities.
The letter dated March 28, 2008 had 39 allegations in total against the DMSS principal and a copy of the letter was sent to the secretary on April 18, 2008 which expressed dissatisfaction over the Dzongkhag’s resolution on the case.
However, following an investigation directed by the education ministry, it was found that there was disharmony between the principal and two teachers. The secretary said there was weak leadership and mismanagement and as per the BCSR, the principal was demoted and the two teachers transferred.
The secretary said some serious allegations made against Tashi were “not proven”. “We transferred the two teachers and some other teachers who have been in the school for a long time. Basically, we just separated them,” she said.
Tashi Phuntsho claimed he had “enough punishment” for the offences proved by the ministry. “Above all I have undergone emotional punishment as my children were studying in the same school and they had to leave school when I got transferred”, he added.
Tashi said two teachers who instigated the others had “gone door to door” to seek support from the other nine teachers.
He also said Lyonpo Thakur may have visited his school in his absence and denied any support being rendered to Lyonpo.
Tashi also said Kinley must suffer for the offences committed and also alleged that Kinley was not to be seen in the school for months. “He will be in Samtse, gambling and also found drunk at times. I don’t know how to describe his character,” he said.
Unlike in the case of Kinley where the case history documents were made public last week through a local bi-weekly newspaper, the ministry refused to share a copy of Tashi Phuntsho’s case history and report.
Kinley said “the newspaper, Bhutan Today is acting like a government mouth piece as they are reporting on behalf of the ministry and Lyonpo”. He said he left his mobile phone at home when the reporter called him on Saturday. “It was the school’s annual sports day and I have been busy the whole day. He should have at least called my school or the principal,” Kinley said.
“I don’t normally give interviews over the phone”, he added.
Education secretary Aum Sangay Zam said it will not be right to disclose confidential information pertaining to Tashi’s case as he is “still in the system,” working as a teacher. She added that unlike Kinley, Tashi has not challenged the ministry’s decision and order.
“I think it’s not right to comment on Tashi’s case,” she said. The secretary said confidential information on the case cannot be shared unless there is a court order.
She said the case is an old one as far as the ministry is concerned and that it had been closed since 2010. “I don’t know what he is trying to do now or who is advising him,” she said.
Kinley said Lyonpo Thakur made his first visit to Mindruling CPS on the sidelines of his constituency visit during which Lyonpo threatened him that he could be fixed by RCSC. “If Lyonpo was not involved, why would he warn me personally,” Kinley said.
He said he approached the Secretary in 2010 for a consideration on the case but the Secretary expressed helplessness because of the nature of the case. “She said it was beyond her level and that it was a case of personal feud between me and Lyonpo”.
The secretary however said she never mentioned Lyonpo’s name and instead informed him that everything shall depend on the official investigations and decision made by the ministry’s human resource committee (HRC).
Kinley said “After the case was closed, a member of the investigation team, Lopon Wangda told me that the investigation was for namesake and my resignation order was taken out way in advance”.
Kinley said he applied for a transfer in 2008 and 2009 but was denied one. He said “on October 24, 2008 the then DEO Pem Choden told me she couldn’t process my transfer because Lyonpo instructed her not to do so and that I was under observation”.
A clear proof of Lyonpo’s direct involvement in the case was denial of transfer for no reasons.
To this, the secretary said Kinley was asked to justify and he accepted the mistakes with unrealistic excuses. She said the case was entirely different from the DMSS principal’s. “When the two offences are different how can you expect equal treatment,” she added.
“I was not even provided a copy of the complaint letter and that is because I know DPT coordinators like Surja Murti Tamang had signed it and instigated others to follow,” said Kinley.
Earlier, Kinley said the salaries of the two contract teachers had been deposited into his account by mistake of the Dzongkhag finance and that he wasn’t aware. “Much before the allegations were made the salaries was reimbursed to the DEO on August 16 and the matter concluded there,” he said.
The secretary said it was a lame excuse to say that one didn’t know if there was money in his own account.
Commissioner Kinley Yangzom said the amount of fund involved was not much but according to law, RCSC had to look at the “intentions” as well.
Kinley Tenzin said, “the fund, collected as donation from staff and businessmen, was to conduct religious ceremony in the school, as decided by a committee”. “The amount to procure religious scriptures was entered in the Choeten Tshogpa register, but was kept aside as it was insufficient and the money was still in the school when the investigation was going on,” he claimed.
Regarding allegations on being out of station for 155 days, Kinley said all his “movements were authorized by the DEO and Dungkhag offices. He said, “In 2009 during the Dzongkhag education conference, I have submitted the agenda about the high rate of official movement and I even suggested that the NFE centers to be monitored by DEO or Dungkhag, the WFP stocks to be received and accounts to be settled by same offices in order to reduce the movements of school principals. The house in general did not agree,” he concluded.
A senior level official in the MoE said it was learnt that Kinley Tenzin had forged the official seal of the Dumtoe Gup on a letter. “At least we haven’t brought up this case as yet”, the official said.
Kinley said that he should have been sued or reported police if such crime was committed.
A senior RCSC official said it was irresponsible on Kinley’s part to be out of station for a huge number of days despite being authorized by the DEO. “We reprimanded the DEO as well for approving it,” he said.
Kinley alleged that one of the RCSC officials Dorji Tshering, who was part of the investigation later, told him that “people with political links have both advantages and disadvantages”.
Kinley had approached the Dorokha Dungkhag Court in April 2011 but the case he said was not undertaken by the court and was told it was an administrative issue.
RCSC officials said he can always file a case with the court as the commission already upheld MoE’s decision.
Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, who accused The Bhutanese at the recent National Graduate Orientation Program for publishing false information didn’t justify if ‘equity and justice’ was done in both cases as he did not talk about the case in particular.
Lyonpo T.S Powdyel was not available for comments.