Winds of Corruption

As the wind of Democracy swept across Bhutan in March 2008, the day of voting was a solemn but hopeful day.

There was hope and optimism that under democracy, everyone would be equal before the law, there would be accountability, abuse of power, nepotism and corruption would be curbed and there would be a new way of doing things.

Years later, people are not so sure any longer.

A recent example would be the, Kashi stores, industrial fronting case, where the cabinet decided to give back two licenses when all licenses should be cancelled by law. Two fronting committee members resigned in disgust on the grounds that 108 Bhutanese business licenses were cancelled but a big fish is being spared.

This decision gives further credence, to a poorly kept secret, that most fronting industries have their links with big wigs in Thimphu and even today enjoy protection and in some cases patronage.

In the Chang Ugyen case, the DPT made a land scam tainted former Gup into its Vice-President, a post, just one step below the prime minister. In any other democracy a self respecting political party would have done the right thing, but here the message was ignored.

In Bhutan Lottery, though an RAA report pointed out huge irregularities and even receipt of illegal commissions, the government hushed up the case and shut down the lottery business to the detriment of the national revenue.  Here too the messengers were shot and the message ignored.

Gyelpozhing was a national reminder that in the end it is not about DPT or PDP but those that have power and those that don’t. Here, no doubt the case was forwarded to the ACC for investigation but not before making the case look like a political plot conjured from a magician’s hat and giving the media the ‘sensational and vindictive media’ tag.

Given the current state of tolerance of corruption and nepotism, there will be more Kashi stores and Gyelpozhing in the future, but of a bigger and more complex kind.

In the past the complaint was of a few families dominating business in Bhutan but now with democracy the only change is that a few more families have joined the fray.

For these connected few it is unusually easy to get licenses, clearances and woe betides any bureaucrat who stands in their way. These influential few even have the power and connections to bend laws and policies in their favor.

In the middle of all of this there is an increasing clamor that the past be kept in the past and so only those corruption cases after a certain date are investigated.

This in short is a call for an amnesty over corruption cases. Amnesty is granted to child soldiers in Africa, who are kidnapped by armed factions and then asked to fight or die. Amnesty is not for people in the position of power who were well aware that they were breaking laws.

The Corruption of today and tomorrow gets its foundation from corruption in the past. Moreover if the past is not tackled then the message sent out is, that it is okay to be corrupt since you can claim amnesty a few years down the line. A corrupt act in 1980 is a corrupt act in 2012 and a corrupt leader back then is a corrupt leader today.

In the end good governance is about leading through moral conviction and a clean system. Corruption destroys both. A special quality about corruption from the top is that it spreads through the system and ultimately becomes the very system.

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  1. I think its high time the media do a thorough study of each and every corruption cases and how each one is being investigated. Some corruption cases like the Director of Higher Education was not even brought to the light and why is it hushed up?. Any particular reason. What about the case of the Dzongda of Dagana who had misused authority and govt money to pay his personal cook. Like wise there are other cases too. Who decides such differentiation in investigation…… why are some civil servants terminated, some compulsary retirement and some put behind bars…… why is it different for different people? Is it so in the constitution….. are people not equal in front of the law…………..? The BHutanese is the only “hope” to delve into such inequalities and people will appreciate it. Some people even get away with murder and some even with a minor mistake is put under task…. where is equity and justice in the land of GNH. Lets work together to unveil the evil acts of bureacracy 

  2. the media has tried its best to question every scale of matters and every people in our small country. educated lot has been well informed about the actions of the powerful and the influential and blabla but how the majority who are innocent and engaged in thier farm work worryying about their ends meet about this happenings. afterall these powerful, influential and ecnomically strong will bring our innocent people easily under them..

  3. It is very sad that people in Bhutan should go trhough this. Bhutan has crossed over 100 years as a unified nation, but people still do not have proper food and well worth life to live. We should do something about it. PM should be brought before the law; and those supporters should be hanged.

  4. very sad to hear that and a man who preaches gnh is finally loosing his say over those issues. I m quite surprised by his comments and the way he and jimba r defending.
    A corrupt man is after all a corrupt man.

  5. The Winds of Corruption don’t change, they just flow from house to house. From the Tashi Family to the Singye Family and now to the Riverview Family.

  6. Corruption eats away the very vitality of society. It is sad to observe and read about rampant corruption in Bhutanese society. Responsible people must be tried and if found guilty, punished; otherwise, we will be handing over corrupt society from generation to generation.

  7. Even after all this reports by a bold journalist and a bold media house, why is the other media so silent? Why not it be Kuensel or other print media who writes further on this?

    I personally feel these reports are an enmity between this reporter and the Prime Minister. Each trying to prove that the other is on the wrong side?

    “The reporter” needs the support of all of us. Kuensel please wake up.

  8. Government is encouraging corruption. They are blind when their friends and releatives envolve in corrupt partices. Our one and only TV channel reporters are cowards,they cant bring those corrupt peoples, ministries or instutions
    and departments. They can only the good deeds done by the government as they have to depend on government.

  9. Sherub Membar

    I regret for having supported DPT in 2008 election. Had I know that the DPT whose’ catchword has been “Equity and Justice’’ was/is  in fact, none other than a bunch of corrupted assholes, I would have definitely not supported the party. I voted for DPT not because its candidates are any better than that of PDP, but because I thought DPT has a better leadership, not in terms of looks or experience, but in terms on integrity and other morale ethics.

    But today I see corruption everywhere under DPT government and the DPT leaders including the PM always supporting the culprits , and always condemning the media or the reporters  that reports on such issues of corruption,especially involving  the DPT factions. 

    I sincerely appreciate THE BHUTANESE and its editorials, reporters and staff for your courage and and genuine concern for the nation.

     I would appreciate If THE BHUTANESE could also investigate how the foreign transfer is being decided or placed for those working in the Foreign Ministry. I’m so disheartened to hear from so many people working in the Foreign Ministry (including some very senior and  morally principled  officials) that the Ministry functions almost like a family heir loom where, firstly only the sons and daughters of the big shorts get selected for any vacant posts (especially at officers’ level), Secondly, those who made it through the selection process mainly because of his/her academic excellence, but have no backing, are always given the last option when it come to foreign transfer/ placement. It seems one has to be SOMEONE”S  daughter or son to get his/her foreign transfer on time and in his/her  desired country. Hard work, sincerity and seniority seem to carry no weight-age at all for that matter. What a shame on the Foreign Secretary who looks after the internal administration of the Ministry. I wish there are so many Am (Dasho) Netens, to head all our govt ministries so that things would really go fairly and smoothly.

  10. “The Bhutanese” is doing great job as we all can see and feel. My comments is not specific to any of the articles.I read this paper daily ever since it started with soaring news of corruption and illegal practices. Its good to know and see papers giving us all the news where by corrupted people can be brought to justice. yes, its does make us feel good and to know that .I have off late also noticed that news that are published seems to baseless and misinterpreted. I would request all the medias to do a through research and understand the root cause and understand the pros and cons of such kinds of news. Bhutan is a small country with initial stage of its development. Bhutan is a peaceful country, where people are well taken care by their king. we love peace and we believe in our leaders and so our leaders to their gong-ma. we are a country who believes in tha-damtse , leyjumdrey , gong-ma and kencho sum. we are country of strong values and principles. We do not at all want our country be like any of our neighboring countries.

  11. All our politicans are like those we mostly see in Hindi movies. Either fully corrupt or partially. It should be a concern for every one of us to make proper judgements while chossing the government. Within 5 years we heard lots of news that we never thought it would happen in such a small country like ours. Have read and heard about lots of corruption cases but there isnt any answer. I am really disheartened of hearing about all those and also there are still lots of such cases that has not been brought before the public and media…. One such case is within the Datshang… If some one really go and investigate than I am 100% sure the media will find lots of things… I think is important to look at such issues more seriously. Not all but many… And if truths are brought to light than i guess there may be more supersing faces and names to be heard n read…………………… AND my concerned about the answers… i guess if the government changes than actions might change.

  12. Land scam….. but what about those lands that once upon a time was given to Zhabdrung.. and after wards known as GENDEN- PE Zhi.( land that belongs to dratshang).. many of the institutes, dzongs and religious sites owes such land. These are lands that belongs to institute and the Zhung Dratshang as a whole but Now there are lots of instances where such lands have been miss used by the power full officals within dratshang and from outside too. I think The bhutanese should look into it, to full fill your mandat of emphasising on economy and corruption….and achiving ur vision and saving our country from those hands who covers their dirty faces under the banner of BUDDHISSM.

  13. no papers in Bhutan is doing greater deed in promoting democracy in the country than the Bhutanese without fear,favor or prejudices.

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