Tuesday, October 25, 2011

United Nations or United Ostriches?

Mr. Muammar Gaddafi is dead. Good riddance! There is a saying … he who lives by the gun, dies by the gun. He was a horrendously evil man and he deserved to go as he did. So, let us bundle him up, wrap him in rags, sprinkle camel piss over his lifeless body and bury him 10,000 miles deep into the sandy desert so that, if he should resurrect, it would take him a few millennium to resurface on the face of this earth.

Hang on, not so fast! The Human Rights Office of the UN wants to intervene. They want an investigation into his death. In their words; "More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture".

Oh really? Why is Mr. Muammar Gaddafi singled out for special treatment by the UN agency? What is so different or special about Mr. Muammar Gaddafi? Mr. Osama bin Laden was murdered in Pakistan (something that I still do not believe is the real truth) by the American soldiers and, supposedly, his body was thrown into the bottom of the sea – to serve as shark feed. The sentence of Mr. Saddam Hussein’s “death by hanging” was pronounced at Camp Cropper, an American controlled holding facility. Mr. Saddam Hussein’s hanging was carried out in the most humiliating manner – he was taunted till the end and an unauthorized mobile phone recording showed him falling through the trap door of the gallows.

Like ostriches, the moral eagles at the UNCHR stuck their heads into the sand and made no noise while all that was happening to lesser evils like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Why are they doing so now? The answer is: Double standards!

The UNCHR has a habit of putting their feet in their mouths – every time they open them. If you recall, the whole Southern Bhutan problem spiraled out of control because of their thoughtless and wrongful intervention. In part, the exodus of people from the South into the Nepal camps was caused by the false sense of security and encouragement provided by the UNCHR and their hasty and misguided support.

The world seems to be going a little mad in recent years. Are there some cosmic realignment happening up in the heavens that is causing such numerous natural calamities all around the world? Is the proper functioning of the human mind being affected, as a result? Can the madness of some of our MPs wanting to break a law and build the Gorgan-Shingkhar farm road across the alpine wilderness be explained by these unseen forces at play?

I spoke to one of the MPs of the ruling party on the matter concerning this crazy idea of a farm road. He agrees that he is at times dumb founded. He believes that there are unseen forces at play that seems to be directing the hand of the government into doing things that is designed to deliver victory on a platter – to the Opposition party, in the next elections.

Is this madness or what?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Job Well Done

The royal wedding is over and everyone agrees that the ceremony and the celebrations were fantastic. No one doubts that His Majesty has made a good choice in his queen. I myself remained glued to the TV watching the proceedings - I refused to apply for accreditation for the occasion because I wanted to avoid another run-in with the agents of the ROM. I couldn’t have been able to sanely handle another tryst with them.

While there is no doubt that the Bhutanese people had a gala time, what of the international audience; what of the visiting media personnel? How did they view the arrangements that were made for their convenience? After all, an event is as good, or as bad, as it is presented to the audience.

I played host to a Delhi-based reporter of an international news organization. I did my part to ensure that the reporter had a good time while covering the all-important event. The following is my email to the reporter and the reply I got. From the reply it is obvious that, on the whole, the Government of Bhutan and the organizers did an excellent job.

Traffic control and flow was outstanding as well. Our men in blue did well.


Hi M,

Thank you for the mail ... I am impressed that you were kind enough to inform me of your safe arrival in Delhi so promptly.

Yea .. I intentionally wanted you to have a comfortable hotel while here in Bhutan ... and I think that Nak-sel hotel in Paro has nicely appointed rooms and calm and tranquility which I thought you might enjoy after your noisy Delhi. That is why I was eager that even your last night in Bhutan should be spent at Nak-sel. I am happy that I made no mistake there :)

I hope that our government was not found wanting in the arrangements they made for the visiting media. But I know that we do not have much experience in handling such a huge influx of media personnel. Surely, there must have been shortfalls but please forgive us if you were inconvenienced in any way. And, if there is any improvement you can suggest in the arrangements, please let me know .. We will not be offended but take it as a useful suggestion ……….

Bye and take care .. and it has been a pleasure knowing you.




Thanks for reply.  Please give me your address, so that I can mail you the SIM card.

I think the Bhutan government did a good job taking care of us.  First of all, we were granted very good and exclusive access to various occations during the wedding.  Secondly, we were well fed, ha! Thirdly, although the stadium's internet did not work, internet at other places worked just fine.  As far as I am concerned, the only thing that bothered me a bit was a liason officer who was supposed to attend me and three other journalists for three days was not helpful compared to other liason officers.  He was nice enough and willing to be helpful but, in my case especially in Phunakha, he ended up creating confusions.  You can ask Rinzin for the details. Journalists are one of the most demanding and abnoxious kind of people as you know.  Especially, those journalists from the US and European countries are the worst, I think.  They think the world is for them. To meet their demands is very difficult and it's just impossible.  I think the government did well in spite of a lack of experience and the limited capacity.

I am not trying to be nice here.  This is my honest opinion.  I have seen so many ill equiped media centers in many countries. Compared to those cases, Bhutan indeed did a really good job.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Even as I write this post, I have one of my eyes on the TV screen where the proceedings of the Royal Wedding that is currently underway in Punakha are being broadcast live by the BBS. It is a beautiful event. The color, the pomp and the pageantry is simply fabulous!

I am told that His Majesty had willed that the event should be a very subdued affair. When I look on the TV screen, I cannot fathom how such an event can ever be subdued - the profusion of colors, the solemnity of the occasion, the rituals, the reverberating resonance of the drums and the cymbals and the deep throated gurgling of the Dhung and the soulful musical sounds of the Jaling - they all combine to make the ceremony into something of a monumental celebration. And it should be rightly so, after all, this ceremony goes beyond the formalization of a matrimonial union of two beings. This event is the public legitimization of the appointment of the Queen of Bhutan.

As of today, Ashi Jetsun Pema is no longer an ordinary person. She now enters a life of discipline, of commitment and sacrifice, of renouncement and surrender - a life steeped in ceremony and officialdom. The crown comes at a heavy price and I hope she is up to it - for her own sake and for the sake of her subjects - the people of Bhutan.

On this momentous occasion, I pray that she is able to fulfill her duties as Her Majesty Ashi Jetsun Pema Wangchuck the Queen of Bhutan. May this day prove to be as joyous as the people of Bhutan believe it to be.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Deliberate Misinformation II

The recent declaration by the government that Lhuentse is the most poorly served Dzongkhag in the country is nothing short of rubbing salt to the wound of the people of Khengri Namsum. If the government feels that the people of Lhuentse are more deserving than the stoically tolerating Khengpas, they should have the courage to go ahead and do whatever they want to do - without resorting to falsehood.

As a Khengpa, I feel insulted that the government not only continues to ignore Zhemgang Dzongkhag but goes as far as to deny that it is the most poorly served Dzongkhag in the country. Such a deliberate distortion of facts has serious ramifications on the people of Kheng. By denying that Zhemgang Dzongkhag is the most poorly served Dzongkhag in the country, it becomes convenient for the government to divert funds else where. But in a sense I think I can understand why our government is so poorly educated about Khengpas and their continuing plight. I want to know: how many of the members of the Cabinet - both present and past - have visited inner Kheng? It may come as a shock that majority of them, even after being Ministers for decades, have not visited Kheng even once.

Today, when there are natural calamities in the East and the West, everybody is scrambling to outdo each other to deliver relief and reconstruction material. If such calamities were to happen in the Kheng region, the government would be soooooo terribly out of luck - because no way they would be able to be so quick with their kidu! There are no roads to deliver anything! That is when the government will truly understand the calamity of their neglect.

This post is still about the Gorgan-Shingkhar road. This stretch of road that will run through the TNP wilderness serves no purpose, its construction breaks laws, it will cause irreparable damage to the environment and in all provability it will remain unused for most part of the year, if at all. If the government has the will and the financial resources to do such a meaningless and destructive road, surely it has money enough to do some useful road in the severely deprived Zhemgang Dzongkhag. Let me show you how pathetic the road network in Zhemgang is.

In all of Zhemgang, there are currently three roads:

     Tingtingbi- Gongphu road
     Dakphai - Buli road
     Tingtingbi - Wangdigang road

The construction of the Tingtingbi-Gongphu road was started in 1988. Amazingly, the entire stretch of this road runs through total wilderness - it does not touch any of the villages in the vicinity such as Tsanglajong, Subrang, Zurphey and Gongphu. The road is called Tingtingbu-Gongphu road but it stops short of Gongphu village by 8 KMs - in the middle of nowhere called Praleng! When it was finally completed in 2005 (including the 8KMs farm road that finally connected Gongphu village) this road measuring a total of 46 KMs took 17 (seventeen) years to build - an astounding construction rate of less than 3 KMs per year!

The second road in the Kheng area is the Dakphai-Buli road. This road is supposed to serve the upper Kheng areas. Its construction was started in 1996 but as of January 2010, it hasn’t yet reached Nimshong village. I cannot decide whether this is a farm road or a regular road. But the less than 40 KMs road so far has taken all of 14 years to construct - a construction rate of 2.85 KMs per year!

The Tingtingbi-Wangdigang road is actually a by-pass road that is not intended to benefit the Kheng people. This road is strictly to reduce the overall road length between Gaylegphug and Trogsa. It starts at Tingtingbi, goes through complete wilderness without touching a single village and would reconnect at Wangdigang on the existing highway, when finally done. For the Khengpas, this road is as good as not being there - like the Gorgan-Shingkhar road would be to the Lhuentsips - if ever it gets constructed.