Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Common Forum: How Lawful Is It?

How useful are the ECB sponsored Common Forums that are being conducted all around the country?

DPT’s view is that it is "breaking up people" and that it is “unproductive” and "should be done away with". During a press briefing a few days back, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba of DPT said:

The whole process of politics becoming dirty and dangerous might be further expedited by this very noble intention”.

Contrary to what the DPT believes, other three parties - DCT, DNT and the PDP are unanimous in their assertion that the common forum is useful and productive. There is an extraordinary bit of commonality in the three parties’ opposition to the DPT’s views and their collective support for the perpetuation of the common forum.

However, when not a single voter turned up at the last common forum of South Thimphu, the candidates of some of the political parties had a mouthful to say.

DCT’s Kinley Dem was disappointed that “no voters showed up to listen to them”.

Dr. Lotay Tshering of DNT called the none-participation by voters as “very cold reaction from the literate lot of South Thimthrom”.

It is a pity that these candidates should react thus. Why should any voter show up to listen to them? If the voters chose not to attend any of their common forums, why should that be considered improper or not befitting of an educated person? Why is it mandatory that the voters should be inclined to listen to the candidates, if they have no interest to do so? Isn’t that their choice? Isn’t that what all these parties are harping on - that democracy is all about choices?

Talking of choices, from which provision of the law does the ECB draw its authority - to force this common forum on the political parties and the people of Bhutan? How justified are they in imposing their will on the political parties?

As far as I am concerned, the ECB is a regulatory/supervisory authority that is mandated to oversee the proper and lawful conduct of the elections - to ensure that every party is accorded an opportunity to contest in an atmosphere of equality and fair play. 

In my view, the ECB is exceeding their authority and mandate in deciding, on behalf of the political parties and the people of Bhutan, as to how they should vote or how the parties must canvass for votes and how best to project and promote their parties among the electorate.

The ECB should leave it to the politicians to decide as to how best to serve the interest of their own parties. The ECB cannot, on behalf of the parties, decide that common forum is the best way to promote their parties or their ideologies or the best strategy by which to garner support from the voters. As long as the parties function within the ECB’s guidelines which should be limited to issues relating to ethical and moral standards of how each political party must behave and campaign, the parties must be allowed the creativity and the operational freedom to conduct their campaigns as they choose. How can it be acceptable that a non-political entity like the ECB has the experience and the expertise to direct political parties as to how they should go about their job?

One of the strangest things about our democracy is that people who do not have a day’s experience in democracy is directing and making laws and subscribing ways and means as to how democracy and elections must be conducted.


  1. I agree with the parties who are saying that the common forum is useful. There is no back biting when all candidates of the different political parties are present in a common forum and make their statements in the presence of the prospective voters. Moreover, the common forum helps our farmers dedicate their limited time to agricultural works as they have to attend such meeting with four political parties in one go.

    ECB must have kept the above benefits in mind when they decided to have common fora instead of letting all parties to organise separate meetings and cause inconvenience to our farmers during this peak farming season.

  2. Democracy is also about freedom of expression, so why not Dr.Lotey express his views freely? Why do you have to harp after other parties and always praise DPT? Be fair and come out of your blind faith.

  3. I suppose it gives an opportunity for the candidates to air their grievances or to make wonderful, surreal pledges. I mean on the one hand the last government is grossly criticized and blamed for the debt incurred on developmental works and on the other pledges such as education, health, helicopters, twenty lakhs for each gewog (x 205 gewogs), a vehicle for each gewog, and of course the magic word to lure farmers "powertiller" in each chewogs. I don't understand from where the money is going to come. By the time the money is generated, if at all, to accomplish these pledges, the term of the government would be over. May the blessings of the Almighty always be with our country.

  4. You seem to be always wring one sided story aue Yeshey. R u getting some commission like Tenzin Rigden?

  5. Anonymous,

    Why does it have to do with "commission" all the time? Would it be possible for you to consider, for a change - citizen's duty/obligation? Please appreciate that there are some of us who put country and due process - above and beyond "commission".

    What I write here does not have to do with any political party. If you reread my post, I am pointing out something that I believe is unfair. Political parties are the best judges to decide how best to reach out to the voters. It is not correct that they are treated like kindergarten kids - being directed how to go about their business.

    We are all going through a learning process - democracy is new to us and it should be acceptable to all concerned that we will make mistakes. But what is important is that we accept the mistakes and have openness of mind to accept and change for the better.