My four year old daughter was the youngest audience at the final South-Thimphu Common Forum that took place at the YHS auditorium yesterday at 4 PM. She received a DNT pamphlet that Dr. Lotay who was dressed quite humbly in a dark grey gho and lugging a laptop bag was distributing yesterday. After all the commotion about non-attendance and subsequent press conferences from DPT, PDP and DNT, there was a huge turnout, probably more than a hundred of us.

I thought it would be quite similar to the previous forum that I attended but yesterday being a Sunday worked great to my advantage. I had nothing much to do anyway and boy was I glad that I dragged myself to attend the forum!! Dr. Lotay was the star of the previous forum but Tandin Wangmo simply bamboozled the audience yesterday when she spoke with such conviction.

For some reason, Dr. Lotay sounded rather apologetic. I am not sure what had happened that might have angered the South Thimphu people that has resulted in an apology. He said he refunded 6.3 million bucks to the government just so he could join politics but he said it’s not about the dough but rather about the cause that calls him to serve better by joining politics. But once outside the hall, somebody told me that there are pending appointments at the hospital due to his resignation. I was told that there are gallstone patients awaiting surgery and has appointments somewhere into September and beyond. Thus, it remains to see if Dr. Lotay remains true to his pledges and improves health facilities across the country by being a politician than he would serve by being a doctor. He also talked about the country’s debts – for eg. Chukha Hydro project started with 60% fund and 40% borrowed money, Punatsangchu project started with 40% fund and 60% borrowed money and also about people’s right to relevant information and documents.

There was something contradicting about what he said though. He said that people make promises to build roads, bring electricity connections and so on and so forth but he does not have the capability to make these promises. He said that all these are a part of the eleventh fifth year plan and he will ably serve to fulfill all that is in the 11th fifth year plan. If he doesn’t have the capability, then how does he plan to ably serve to fulfill what are in the 11th fifth year plan? But I give it to him that he is great with language and if not a doctor or a politician, he would definitely make a good lawyer.

Despite Dr. Lotay’s allegations that the services of the previous government weren’t satisfactory enough that instigated him to join politics, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba said that what we have had in the past was exemplary and that people tend to ungratefully forget and sling blames around. He did not specify the past as in the past five years or the past before that but I am sure he used it collectively since some of the DPT lyonpos are pretty much the only lyonpos we have ever known. He said that the pace at which the democratic process is functioning is healthy but that for it to grow roots and gain stability will take more than a mere election or two. According to him, it is one thing to make promises, quite another to fulfill it and that people need to look at the achievements the past government has had and assess the potential of the new candidates – whether they have it in them to fulfill the promises they make.

It is quite evident that women empowerment and unemployment is a common agenda across the parties.

Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba stressed yet again that corruption is a huge concern. All the candidates seem to make similar statements that leaves us wondering who are they exactly pointing at because by the way they talk, none of them are the corrupts? It is a sad thing to witness though that a huge personality such as Lyonpo YZ, descendant to the historical Alu Dorji , has served our country for so many years and was revered throughout but now has to share a common forum with people who once were nobodys and even someone as young as the DCT’s Kinley Dem, who once upon a time would have shaken to the bones if she had passed by him and had gathered as much as a glance from him.

The half an hour talks from each candidate was getting exhausting but PDP’s Aum Tandin Wangmo had the last talk and perhaps the last laugh too because she obviously got the hugest applause from the audience. This is especially after her last common forum where despite her great speech, people found PDP’s promises a bit incredulous. Soon after the last forum, a friend messaged me saying that he will come and visit me when PDP comes into power and buys emergency helicopters that will enable him to escort his patients to Thimphu. This time, Tandin Wangmo did a bit of explaining and in the process, pointed out some of the biggest blunders of the past government. Honestly, with all the revelations, I thought I was going to have brain damage by the end of the forum.

She began by saying that from the low attendance and cancellation of the previously scheduled forum, she was told that people were disinterested in common forums but that on her door-to-door campaign from Chang Gidaphu to kala bazaar to Changzamtok, none of the people she met confirmed that they were informed of the schedule. It begins to feel like the party workers of the political parties are the corrupted underworld and responsible for all the hanky pankys going about.

She stressed on the importance of the common forums that enables the public to assess each candidate and vote for the most deserving one. She pointed out that the past government may declare to have served the country well but they have made blunders that are apparent. One for instance that His Majesty assured people in the 1990s and early 2000s that the country has no financial issues but within the last few years of DPT as the ruling government, our country’s debt has sprouted and skyrocketed. She also brought up land issues such as that of E4 lands where ironically, land owners do not have the right to build houses on their own land, and also countless lands replacement issues. She probed people to think if their issues were treated with Drangnam and drangdhen…and then she pounced on the tax issues where commercial and residential houseowners pay the same amount of tax…

She then brought up the dire issue of drinking water in a CAPITAL CITY and that all water supplies were made by people themselves, paying from NU 35,000 to a hundred thousand bucks.

Then she went on to the touchy topic of the pledges.
1. She said that the uproars to the PDP’s pledges of bringing pensions for RBA, RBP and RBG at par with that of civil servants are baseless because she said they are as much Bhutanese citizens as anybody else and it is the government’s responsibility to look after them once they retire from a strenuous career of looking after the country.

2. It is also for the same reason that they pledge to bring educational provisions for monastic body at par with regular school going children

3. Then she brought up the pledge that has been a subject of mockery for a certain section of people. She said the helicopters that they are looking at is a Eurostar (whatever that is!) and costs around USD 1.5 million each, adding upto USD 3 million for two. She said it is not impossible, looking at the fact that the amount that was spent in McKinsey project could buy about five such helicopters. If precious money were spent on such facilities, today we would still have those bunch of little boys we lost in Chukha. She also said that recently, we have had a helicopter that had to fly sixteen times to Lunana. This helicopter was hired from Nepal at an hourly rate of USD 2,500 and the time factor of hiring one such helicopter may not always alleviate a disaster in a timely manner.

4. And then she hopped onto the Bhutan Lottery issue which was a huge source of revenue for the country despite the suspicious fact that we got only a small percentage of the total earning. She said that this needs investigating because of the huge concerns of corruption relative to Bhutan Lottery case.

5. She also talked about the RAA’s reports of 25 lapses of the past government that also needs looking into but relevant documents were not given access to

6. She also said that we have lost about 1000 acres to the Indian Company in Wang Sisina. A Bhutanese citizen has the right to own only about 10 acres. And that she said is a cause for a great deal of concern.

From all that she said, promises and pledges don’t sound so bad afterall if they are within reasonable bounds and convincing enough with some explanation. Pledges can also serve as a yardstick by which we can measure them if at all they come into power. It is the ones that don’t pledge anything extra than fulfilling whatever is in the fifth year plan that can be worrisome, afterall by the end of it, they can chime that they never made any promises in the first place.

All said and done, come 31st May and we will go do our bit.
6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    63million chi wong...

  2. Jam tsho Says:

    Madam, I guess you mistakenly typed Nu. 1.5 million instead of $1.5 million. (I hope I am not wrong, and sorry for pointing out your typing flaws).

  3. Its 1000 acres and NOT 21 acres la. Anyway thank you very much for the great review.

  4. Jigme yosel Says:

    i really enjoyed the forum and the doubts i had is now crystal clear after i heard what Aum tandin wangmo had to say, so thank you for clearing up all the doubts i had

  5. Jigme yosel Says:

    i really enjoyed the forum yesterday and now all my doubts has been cleared after i heard what Madam Tandin Wangmo had to say like for instance, why we need helicopters and how can we afford it? Also about so many other things. so Thank you.

  6. Kinga Choden Says:

    Hello People,

    Thank you for pointing out the errors! many typos but got them amended now! :)

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