To a lay man, the kabney and patang signify rank, power and authority, but with great power comes greater responsibility.
With 2013 nearing a question coming up is that should ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) be allowed to wear official kabneys once their tenure ends?
In what comes as a welcome change nearly all MPs that this paper talked to said that they will be giving up their kabneys once they vacate their posts.
Gasa MP Damcho Dorji said, “Entailment of kabney and patang are totally the prerogative of His Majesty.” He commented that a retired MP should not be allowed to use patang but be able to wear kabney as it is a kind of knighthood.
Asked his view whether kabney should be conferred only to ministers and not to MPs, he said both are representatives of the people so the treatment meted out to them should be the same.
“There should be rules governing the wearing of kabney and patang which every citizen must adhere to. In fact, the erstwhile National Assembly had already made a resolution on this matter in its 85th and 96th sessions. May be these resolutions should now be made into rules,” said MP Jagar Dorji
He added that kabney and patang has been a tradition which had come to be used for many years in the country and there was nothing wrong in following a tradition, provided that they are used only when one is in office.
“Every official who has worn a colored kabney while in office should leave it aside and wear the kabney used by the general public. Patang has never been used after retirement before. MPs are no exception to this rule.”
However, the red kabney (bura marp) is awarded by His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo to selected individuals as a special honor for his or her services so the person concerned is conferred the title of Dasho for life and joins the elite group in our society, he said.
Jagar Dorji is of the view that only the heads of the three organs of the state – executive, judiciary and legislature should wear the Lyonpo’s kabney and all others should wear the same kabney.
“But this is just my personal opinion.”
MP Prem Gurung said that post-retirement, one should go without kabney and patang.
“Though it is a ceremonial kind of recognition it is also a display of power so as far as possible we should try to be equal even in terms of appearance,” he said.
MP Karma Lhamo feels it is necessary for ministers and MPs to wear kabney during their tenure but after that there is no such need. She said, “So far there is no concrete rule on this but it is necessary to have one.”
Meanwhile, MP Namgay Wangchuk said that he will go with what his colleagues say and the country’s rule on this; however, it will be decided according to their Entitlement Act. “It is the sole prerogative of His Majesty.”
A question put forward by the Opposition Leader (OL) on this issue in his blog is saw more than 200 people voting with a resounding “No” while only 18 said “Yes”.
He said, “They (kabneys) are incongruous in a democracy, a system of government that is based on the important idea that all people are equal.” He added, “We cannot be true otherwise to the principles of democracy and ideals of our constitution, the very people that we elect if we continue to engage in visual displays of power and privilege.”
An aspiring politician said that the National Council Chairperson should be treated equal to a minister and should have the same entitlements but the OL should be placed lower down in the rung.