Leader of the opposition party, Tshering Tobgay insisted, the government needs to reconsider its foreign policy priorities, attend to pressing national needs with scarce resources and claimed an explanation from the government be made public as to why so much expenses were made towards an undertaking that Bhutan had no chance of winning and to provide a complete and public account of the cost incurred to campaign for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat.
The Opposition Leader (OL) on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) expressed that the party has always believed the government’s bid for Security Council membership was ill conceived and misguided.
The OL said, “We also feel compelled to voice our deep concern over the overall direction of Bhutan’s foreign policy under the current government.”
“Bhutan has always followed a prudent and farsighted foreign policy befitting a small country located in a geo-politically sensitive region. The current government’s international priorities can be described as irresponsible at best, and undermine a foreign policy that has served Bhutan well over the last century,” he added.
He said Bhutan wouldn’t have benefited at all and even if elected, it would have exposed the country to more harm than good. He insisted that the government’s focus should be to address issues of national importance as of now rather than crave for international limelight.
The OL highlighted that the Prime Minister spent ‘disproportionate’ amount of time outside the country to campaign for a berth in the UNSC.
OL Tshering Tobgay in a press release also insisted that the government provide a “complete and public account of the expenses incurred to campaign for the UNSC seat and to explain why so much resources were allocated to an undertaking that we had no chance of winning in the first place.”
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 18 October voted to elect five non- permanent members where Bhutan lost to South Korea and Cambodia in the first round for a single seat reserved for the Asia- Pacific member countries. Of the total 192, Bhutan secured only 20 votes while South Korea beat Cambodia in the second round of voting with 149 votes.
A press release from the foreign ministry yesterday stated “Bhutan takes pride in the fact that the Security Council campaign has further strengthened the sovereignty of the country and enhanced the respect and goodwill of the international community for Bhutan and its people”.
However, the OL said Bhutan’s sovereignty was already in place and there was no need for a membership at the security council at this point of time. He said Bhutan is a member of 75 multilateral organizations from the UN itself, World Bank and ADB among others. “The bottom line is having been accepted as the member of the UN on 21 Sep 1971, we have been established as truly an independent country,” he said.
Asked if Bhutan should never contest in future, he said Bhutan should wait for the right time. “Bhutan is a responsible country with the international community, we must serve the international community, Bhutan is taking part actively in many multilateral organizations, from the UN to the SAARC,” he said. “It is our responsibility to take an active part but we cannot aspire to take part where we don’t have a chance and we should not aspire to take part in forums that will do our country more harm than good.”