Democracy � The Bhutanese Way

As I start writing (typing rather), I am not really sure how this article will turn out by the end. One thing can be guaranteed. It will be hell of a controversial one and I expect to get loads of comments. Though as a founder, I hold supreme power on this weblog along with my moderators, no one should refrain from commenting against what I write. Your comments will not be deleted on the ground of our disagreement. Please feel free.<br /><br />I am already prepared for the coming of the two thousand and eight democracy in Bhutan. This rant is a proof that democracy has come early for me and that I am entitled to my views and making them heard. Whether you believe me or not is altogether another matter. For me, I understand democracy as my right to opinions, voices, choices, living, governance, etc. at the expense of none. The source of inspiration for writing this comes from my recent first hands-on coup experience in Thailand. To make a long story short, the Thai military general led a coup and successfully ousted erstwhile Prime Minister Thaksin. What baffled me most was the strong condemnation from the western leaders who, while envisioning the countries worldwide to have established democratic institutions, have completely forgotten the basis of democracy. I thought the principle of democracy is to have the system of government that the citizens choose for their own country. But those leaders believed they had the democratic rights to determine how and by whom Thailand should be governed. To them, democracy is the way that a foreign country should also be governed in the way they want it leaving none or at the maximum a very little for the people in that country to decide for themselves. In reality in Thailand, there was no doubt that majority of the Thais welcomed the coup. I for one had never before seen a coup outside of the news clips. Bloodless, it was. So friendly were the armies to the public and so supportive the latter to the former. Young and old made sure that they took part and are remembered in the making of the Thailand’s history. They brought and offered food and drinks to the armies on the streets or whichever ground they were guarding. And what more can I say about the part that our lovely cuties from Patpong gogo bars had played. They came out in force on to the streets to dance and entertain the soldiers, but only to be banned later for they were distracting the military personnel as much as I was. For the first time in life, I was also getting to see the free shows on broad daylights. So much so for Thailand.<br /><br />Now to Bhutan. The democratically elected Thaksin suddenly being overthrown as a result of the popular national support for the military coup leaves us much to learn from it and apply into the context of Bhutan. The junta gave that the reasons for taking matters into their own hands was the rampant corruption that was occurring under Thaksin government. Yes! The corruption! You heard it so many times in Bhutan. While remaining on the topic of corruption, at least we have now ACC (Anti-Corruption Commission) to act as suppression unit. Honestly, by virtue of not being a civil servant myself and being outside for the time being, I do not know much about the commission. However, I know all of us are under its jurisdiction. There are talks everywhere online branding ACC as Another Corrupted Commission. I will have my own assessment and viewpoint to make as I learn more about it. Directly relating to what has brought the recent political change in Thailand, I can only assume ACC will have one big role to play in the sustained success of our democracy in Bhutan.<br /><br />I am of the understanding that our form of government will be a constitutional monarchy. My sincerest apology and correct me if I am wrong. No matter what, our King will be the most revered and the respected, not because he is the King, but because of his love for one and all and for the nation. We love him in return. Apart from wishing His Majesty the present King, long life and the much earned peace, I am not at all concerned with the crowning of the Fifth Druk Gyalpo. For all I know and am sure about is, it will be “like father, like son.” Our King will remain our eternal guidance. And this is the big and the only solace to look into the post-2008 era. Term me as a pessimist, but the truth is nobody is certain at the moment. I feel quite insecure like some of you. I am nowhere near to be knowledgeable in politics and governance, but the matter of fact is I have begun to loose faith in the people who are showing the signs and symptoms to believe that they will be the ones leading our country. I can brag on and on infinitely about why I remain so pessimistic about them. If you ask me to sum up, I will have to say I have seen enough and at the most I can expect from them is nothing more. It is unfortunate that some people including myself seem to dwell on the negatives rather than the positives. I accept we cannot put into quantifying terms the good they would have brought to the country, but with the growing number of issues all round, I can see our folks from generations Y and late X will have the daunting tasks to overcome what will be left behind if perchance should the parting be well made by those “believers” (who believe they have chance, as I mentioned a little earlier). They may probably be remembered that way which is no strange.<br /><br />Democracy is coming. For most of us who understand little about it, we thought we were living a democratic life in Bhutan. If democracy is the form of government what our people want, I believe, the majority, if not all of us will only want our King. His Majesty makes the right choices to foster happiness of everyone. And this is His Majesty’s choice. While His Majesty chose this for the 2008 and beyond, we must not misunderstand democracy as one’s or the collective power of the majority to do anything like it was misunderstood elsewhere. We do not need to delve beyond neighbouring countries to see an example. From the stories making their rounds, it is likely that we may be hijacked by the politician (or political party) wannabes. The fact I believe is they should not use their power, wealth, vested interests, and their cousins to buy a vote or influence vote counting to win an election. This will not be democracy. It is inevitable that a democracy has to go through voting. But it is far more than a vote. It is all of us working together to benefit our own society. His Majesty has worked tirelessly throughout his reign for this very betterment. The instituting of democracy (the constitutional monarchy) in Bhutan therefore, should be only the taking of the responsibilities to our own hands from His Majesty the King. I will be least interested in which political party wins. I look forward to a government that cares about what our people want. Thus, it is my sincere hope that our leaders do not ride roughshod in the name of a democratic institution. Democracy in India has evolved to fit the Indian people. So is in America to suit theirs. So our leaders need to look for a workable democracy that will fit best for us. The west say democracy is far from being a perfect system of government, but it is better than anything else a man has tried. Let us try and see.
17 Comments
Posted on 23 Oct 2006 by NORBU

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by lazarus @ 23 Oct 2006 12:17 pm
Democracy, as Norbu pointed out,is inherently a very good form of government,in that it provides a level playing field. The &#039;curse&#039; of Democracy comes when people confuse freedom,liberty and rights with misuse and often abuse of the tenants of Democracy. I think that this is already visible in all forum in Bhutan, right from the Prliament(NA) where elected leaders misunderstand rights for cynical criticism to biased and totally prejudiced expressions in online forum. <br />In the final analysis, for democracy to take root and serve the people, people should make sensible choices and decisions, that have the wider interest of the nation in view,as opposed to working and politicking for vested personal interests. As such, certain acceptable level of mental amturity is called for.
by PemTseDruk @ 23 Oct 2006 01:31 pm
Count down have already started to experience a new government in our country. Impact of preparation for the year 2008 is already pinching us. No citizen in the world got opportunity to listen and voice their constitution while in draft. It was only the citizen of Bhutan who got opportunity to listen to it from the voice of our farsighted King and Trongsa penlop. Every house hold by now may have a copy each for their references. <br /> <br />Further with the reshuffling news of Geog, Dungkhag etc and the mock election trial etc., I personally feel that the preparation for the year 2008 is in progress as required by our constitution to form a government suitable to our country. Still then, when I think of year 2008, I get my hair rising up. Whatever it may be, the political changes are initiated by our beloved king. Under his guidance, the chances of failure I find are less. <br /> <br />It is the time for some of us to pay back to government for our free education. We must now work hard to fulfill the dreams of our King and each one of us needs to walk extra miles to turn the wheel of our national dream &#8220;Gross National Happiness&#8221;.
by junior79 @ 23 Oct 2006 03:27 pm
The most fear I have is that many citizens may not vote and wrong leader may be chosen. I think government should make a system that reveals the result of voting after receiving the number of votes more than 70% of the eligible voters. just a thought. <br />I do not prefer democracy for Bhutan.
by Lekey Dorji @ 23 Oct 2006 03:39 pm
Recently, Elections Commission of Bhutan has announced its proposal to include a qualification criteria of at least a first university degree for all elected representatives in the NA and NC. Whether that will pass though the current NA, none of whose elected members have first university degree, is for anyone to guess. My personal opinion on politics is that it is not inherently bad. It is the people who make it bad. If we have good people (without vested interest, competent to analyse issues and whose sole interests is for the good of the country and its citizenry), I am positive our tryst with democracy will not be bad. So, I encourage our young and educated people to offer altervative choices for the people and help realise the dream of our Beloved King to make Bhutan a happy and properous country proud to be standing in the commity of nations. If good people shun politics because it is perceived to be bad, why then it is only natural that they will be ruled by bad people with vested interests. The time is right for young people to shoulder greater responsibilities.
by karma c w @ 23 Oct 2006 05:30 pm
I liked reading the article and the comments, but this topic is far too beyond my comprehension. <br /> <br />Have a good day.
by Thingyel @ 23 Oct 2006 06:39 pm
We can sit back and watch the changes taking place but we cannot do anything much. As a concern citizen like you, I only look forward for the changes to be positive and expect the elected leader to be wise and compassionate. Best we can do as an individual is to be the change that we want to see in the world. Each of us can achieve GIH (Gross Individual Happiness) and then collectively we can work for GNH. <br /> <br />By the way how is the situation in Thiland now?
by Ketz @ 23 Oct 2006 08:32 pm
&quot;The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people&quot; (i dont know who said it). For a GHN country like ours, if every individual in the homes of our country is happy then my personal feeling is any system should work. But the real concern is if in reality every individual is happy. Looking at the comments and degree of awareness of the people of the post-2008 era from the news papers and other media, especially in rural areas, many are not aware as to what really is democracy to them. The news of enthronement of the 5th king has overshadowed the real talk of the constitution. While these are two different things in a democratic set up, there is need to educate more on the latter. While druk gyalpo will be an important figure (as has been always) people has to be made fully aware to choose a right and competent person in 2008. Till then lets keep our fingers crossed and expect the best...
by Forab @ 24 Oct 2006 12:32 am
We are enjoying the non-democratic benefits from His majesty the king but the movement of constitutionalism that he has iniated needs the better pillar to stand. The province of rights of the Bhutanese people are well defined in our draft constitution. No democracy is a good democarcy if the leader elected by the people themselves are not democratic. The concept of fundamental rights and duties are well incorporated even better than the world&#039;s latest constitution and wer are proud that the protection is guaranteed.The creation of various constitutional bodies depicts another milestone achievement although i am feeling uncomforatble with the functional aspects before it is being fed by the creator.The year 2008 will be the litmus test for every Bhutanese to elect the most efficient leader devoid of corrupt practices and free of sychophance. I am not really happy to learn though it is rumoured far beyond control that some of the present minsiters are forming the party informally.Do they know that the constitution provide liberty to the people? People are expecting unimpaired blessings from the document(constitution) which they have contributed of their own way. I am emotionally heightened when heard that minister who runs the policy with the iron fist are contesting for the election. we don&#039;t want to have a country ruled by individual principle and policy. the democratic policy must be the game of the day.
by Prime Minister @ 24 Oct 2006 03:55 pm
&#039;Democracy&#039; literally means &#039;people&#039;s power&#039;(demo connotes &#039;people&#039;, cracy connotes &#039;power&#039;). <br /> <br />I don&#039;t think that Bhutan will have full democracy. It will be democratic constitutional monarchy. We choose a set of our representatives in the parliament and his Majesty appoints the leaders among our representatives. <br /> <br />To me, &#039;democratic constitutional monarchy&#039; sounds &#039;legimatizing monarchy through people&#039;s consent&#039;. <br /> <br />Any way, vote for me.
by dak @ 24 Oct 2006 07:42 pm
Abrahm Lincoln said, &quot; democracy is the government, of the people,for the people and by the people.&quot; <br /> I am a civil servant not even a year old in it. I m as worried as, if not more,like Norbu. <br />Bhutan does not need democracy if we were ensured the kings as good as and as farsightet as the king we had and have, esp, the present king. <br />What happened to Thailand should be our constant reminder. <br />the mock election we had was just the replica of what is happening in India- no wonder we are flooded by its aspects like film industry most prominently. <br />we, in any way, at any cost, cannot afford to have a democratic system like India, do we? <br />Now the daunting challenge is to educate our people on democracy. How do we do it to oue people- most them are illiterate, and who all form the largest number of eligible voters. <br />Mr, Norbu, you must, through the forum like this weblog should advocate and make the people aware of the right form of democracy we are talking about. <br />Readers of kuzuzangpo.com should write more on this type of pressing issues- not like how somebody lost his or her virginity. <br />Let us do something to have our country in future the one we have today under the leadership of His Majesty the king.
by Voter @ 25 Oct 2006 12:14 pm
Prime Minister, I will surely vote for you in 3008.
by bijoy @ 25 Oct 2006 05:32 pm
nothing is absolutely good or bad. democracy has its benefits like more power to the common man. but look out for the sharks in the garb of local leaders who elect themselves by muscle and money power and run his domain like kings. democracy has to have a strong judiciary who must disqualify candidates who are proven criminals and have past records.
by Stephen @ 25 Oct 2006 06:38 pm
Kuzu zangpo everyone in Bhutan. I&#039;m from England and I visited your country earlier this year. I hope very much to return for your historic moment in 2008. <br /> <br />It seems obvious to me that there are many in Bhutan who are worried about democracy - and that seems strange to most of us in the west. But then Bhutan is probably the only country in living memory to become a democracy without people having to fight for it, either against a tyrant at home or a foreign occupier. <br /> <br />The United Kingdom is a democracy and constitutional monarchy, as is proposed for Bhutan. We have had some of the problems that you fear like corrupt politicians, but only rarely. At the end of the day, the newspapers always expose such people and we the people vote them out of power. <br /> <br />It isn&#039;t for me to tell Bhutanese people how to govern their country, I can only wish you well with it. The one thing I will say is that you shouldn&#039;t fear the politicians too much - remember that you will have the power to hire and fire them with your votes.
by Prime Minister @ 25 Oct 2006 08:41 pm
Voter, <br /> <br />Even you voting for me in 3008 counts. So, vote for me in 3008. <br /> <br />Cheers!!!
by gasazam @ 26 Oct 2006 01:59 am
hmmm the only thing that comes to mind is pray like crazy that the man that leads is intelligent, compassionate and loves his country above himself....So far i can think of only one man that fits this description !!!Any guesses who?
by chimi @ 26 Oct 2006 02:24 pm
Norbu Let us wait for 2008 and see what comes, let us be optimistic and look forward for the best, i have no bachelor&#039;s degree thatefore i can not be MP.
by Awai @ 27 Oct 2006 03:41 am
Norbu <br />Don&#039;t say &quot;typing&quot;, you don&#039;t have to say. Put in some effort or no effort at all. But you have put in some thought.
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