Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Lambs Have Submitted

The KUENSEL has it on record that it is now all signed, sealed and delivered - on the 28th of September, 2023. As dictated, all the five political parties hoping to contest the upcoming 4th National Assembly Elections have submitted their party manifestos to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) - for scrutiny, appraisal and final approval. And, while the political parties await their instructions from the ECB as to what to say, how to say, and the final directions on how best they might put forward their shackled feet, the last of the 3rd Parliament’s final session is scheduled to begin today. But as they say in the comic books, the drama and theatre must go on.

Things are looking bleak: our political parties appear to be without any spines - not a squeak has been heard from them, in protest of the usurpation of their most fundamental rights. It is rather unsettling - if they are incapable of protecting their most basic rights, how can they convince us that they have it in them to protect ours?

Buckling under the burden of the Controller

From all indications, the voter turnout this time round is likely to hit rock bottom - resulting from a number of factors, such as large scale exodus of registered voters to third countries, relocation of voters from their homes to places of their current domicile, denial of the opportunity to cast Postal Ballots by the floating population and, finally, disillusionment in the democratic system and processes.

However, in truth, that is not really my worry. I mean, take a hard look at the landscape - scan the horizon - and you will find that democracy is still an unfamiliar term to the majority of the Bhutanese rural population who really matter - it is simply not within their scheme of things! For them the Kidu still flows from the Throne. It is only to a motley of people in Thimphu to whom democracy resembles something akin to a wiggling worm on the muddy floor.

To me what is unnerving is that we are steadily emerging as a race of people who speak things that we do not mean - we do things we are not supposed to do; we say we are a democracy but democratic institutions are the first ones to deny people the most basic of democratic rights. We say we are a GNH country, we say we are pristine, that we are beautiful, we say we are God-fearing and religious – but there is no indication that we are most of them, if any at all.

Those in the leadership positions are Dashos and not Dakshos – a self-serving bunch who routinely ignore the relationship between cause and effect.

Today the country is aspiring for a stratospheric rise in wealth acquisition and technological advancement and competence. Our Monarch has laid out a stupendous, bold dream - a once in a millennium plan to hit our proverbial High Note. A plan at this scale is likely to take few years before it can be brought to fruition. But while that is being overseen under the watchful eyes of the King, side-by-side, it is imperative that the people and the government of Bhutan project an image that permeates confidence, political stability, good governance, dependability, reliability, and trustworthiness. It will go a long way in winning over investors and supporters - to take a second look at what we say we have on offer for them. Words are so much hot air - actions matter!

But what do we do? We shove undemocratic requirements down the throats of the cowering political leaders! I am aghast that there is not a single person in the ECB with the creativity to think up something by which they can have their cake and eat it at the same time. Why does it have to be the gory, the unlawful, the unethical and the tyrannical?

Trust me, the international community are a hyper sensitive lot - they watch and take note of every one of our missteps. They will factor in all that - when they do their sums to decide whether or not, Bhutan is worth it! And, that is when such behaviors as those of the ECB is going to cost us dearly!

We have to be particularly sensitive in what we do at home - even more so when we are muddying the waters with the big boys in the international arena.


  1. In real terms, shouldn't political Parties have their manifestos approved and then proceed with their familarization tours etc. What if manifestos are thrown out by the ECB? I say for a small country, we sure have a shit load of politicians. The numbers tell us clearly that good governance, people,s welfare etc. are not their first port of call. Instead the numbers tell us that it is just people who just want to hold office to satisfy their egos. If politicians really cared about the country, there would be not more than three parties striving together to further democracy and the welfare of the people. Instead we have five parties struggling to get enough candidates to fulfill ECB requirements. And I am really curious how ECB assesses the manifestos; do they look at how many times GNH is used?

    1. Dear Concerned Citizen,

      Actually that is one suggestion I made too - that instead of the parties wasting time coming up with their manifestos, the ECB might as well draft five different manifestos and hand them over to the five political parties .... after all it will amount to the same thing - the ECB will finally decide the content of the manifesto. Also it is perhaps appropriate that we rename the ECB as someone who commented on my blog called it - The Election Controller of Bhutan - after all that is their aspiration and that is what they are doing.