August 3, 2007

Bhutan: Looking back ...moving ahead


Some call it the dawn of a beginning, some, the end of an era. Yesterday after the handing taking ceremony of the reins of the government from Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk to Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji in the Tashichhodzong, the ten ministers paused to share their experiences and expectations with Kuensel.

Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba

The trade and industry minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, has submitted his resignation to join the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT). He will contest from the lower Thimphu constituency.

“Looking back, Bhutan has come a long way under His Majesty’s dynamic leadership. After 1998 we experimented a new system where responsibility was gradually handed over to the people. I feel we have learned enough to forge ahead to a better future,” said Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba. “I think the experience we have gained over the last couple of years has shown us what opportunities and problems lies ahead,” he said.

He said that the experience under the leadership of His Majesty the King has prepared them to move into a fully democratic government. “What we need to know now is that the entire responsibilities rest with the people of Bhutan.”

Looking ahead, the minister said that the responsibilities of the ministers would be same, but the way it would be exercised would be different. “In the past we had His Majesty the King to fall back on and seek guidance and advice, but now this is something that we ourselves will have to exercise,” he said.

Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk

The outgoing prime minister had joined the DPT and would contest from the Lamgong/Wangchang constituency in Paro.

“This is the end of one era and beginning of another,” said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk from Dopshari, Paro. “I am happy that I am a part of both the eras.”

Sharing his experience, the minister said that he had the opportunity to serve His Majesty the King for 33 years. “I am satisfied that I have completed my service and contributed in my own little ways to the development of Bhutan,” he said.

The minister said that he had fulfilled in his modest ways, the aspirations of the people and expressed his happiness at the opportunity to serve and take part in the democratic process. “I hope from now on I can live up to the expectations of the people and in any way possible, serve the tsa-wa-sum.”

Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup

The mentor of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), agriculture minister, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, will contest from the Kabji/Talo constituency in Punakha.

“I was honoured when I was nominated as one of the ministers in 1998 and today I look back with satisfaction,” said Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup. “Both the ministries (health and education and agriculture), I served, provided me with opportunity for discovering both problems and solutions.”

Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup said that it was a rich experience working together with people while in the agriculture and the then health and education ministry. He credited the success in the ministries to all the staff of the two ministries.

Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup said that post 2008 would not be much different. “Personally I feel that there will be no big changes. In the past His Majesty went to the people to discuss problems and issues during the Plan meetings seeking views of the people,” he said. “After 2008, the only difference would be that instead of the King going to the people, people will come forward through their constituencies to demand for developments and needs.”

Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley

The campaign coordinator of DPT, home minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley will contest from Nanong/Shumar constituency in Pemagatshel.

“It is in many ways a very sad day today because today marks the true end of a golden era under the leadership and guidance of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo,” said the home minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley. “Today also brings to a formal end of the machinery that was established by the Fourth Druk Gyalpo where we were a part of the machinery.”

Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley describes his tenure in the government as the golden years and said it certainly was a fulfilling and satisfying period. “I have had a fulfilling 33 years serving in the golden period,” he said.

“Now we have to look in to the future and we have decided to participate in another form and another role. It is a role I am not prepared and I cannot say how well my colleagues are prepared for the change of role from a minister to a political animal,” said the minister. “Our duties and responsibilities will be different and we have taken the challenge and the opportunity to do the best.”

I cannot say how well we might succeed in fulfilling the aspirations of our fourth Druk Gyalpo and what people expect, but in the next few months we wish to educate ourselves and discover what people actually want, the minister said. “It is a challenge that we have taken and we will do our best.”

Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu

“The work as a minister was challenging, but a rewarding and satisfying experience,” said the finance minister, Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu who will contest from Bartsham/Shongphu constituency in Trashigang for DPT.

Describing his tenure as a successful and satisfying period, the minister said that there was gradual and positive change in the government. “There was no radical changes from what was there before 1998, but our government has grown beyond recognition and we have a strong civil service who can shoulder any responsibility,” he said.

“I feel sad, but at the same time I feel a big burden has been lifted off my shoulder.”

Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu feels that the new government will be more answerable to the people as they would be elected by the people themselves.

“There will be new challenges. The views of the government will have to be in line with that of the people. But whichever government comes into power, there will be nothing that the government cannot overcome with the guidance of His Majesty.”

Lyonpo Jigmi Singay

A high profile candidate of PDP, Lyonpo Jigmi Singay will contest from Mongar constituency.

“Coming from a simple family background and coming this far with the trust and confidence bestowed on me by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the National Assembly members, its been a great experience, both learning and as a member of a team of experienced ministers,” he said.

Lyonpo Jigmi Singay said that it was an honour to remember to be a part of a system that had continuously been evolving, maturing, and developing. “I feel happy for whatever I contributed as a minister,” he said.

Lyonpo Jigmi Singay said that it is both exciting and challenging to represent the people, their concern and their views in the new political system

Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering

“My experience in the government has been exhilarating and I would not want to change a thing because I have gained so many valuable experiences serving the King and the country,” said Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering.

From now on, the roles and responsibilities would change and joining politics will be challenging for all of us who have decided to participate in the democratic process, according to the minister. “The duties and responsibilities would be extremely different and challenging but it is the challenge that we have decided to take,” he said. “This is what our His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo wanted and that is what our dynamic and passionate His Majesty the Fifth King wishes.”

Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering who will contest from Upper Thimphu constituency for DPT said that the future as a politician is uncertain but the uncertainty makes it more challenging.

Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji

Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji, who was appointed the care taker prime minister yesterday, describes the opportunity to serve the country for the second time as an honour. “It is a big responsibility to run the government when profound political changes are taking place, said Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji.

The initiative has come from the throne and it is the duty of each one of us to make the democratic process in Bhutan a success. “It is a big reason to feel humbled and honoured because I can contribute to the process in my humble ways.”

Looking back, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji said that it was the rarest opportunity to serve the country, people and the King during a period when significant changes were happening in the country. “We have achieved so much under the wisdom and leadership of His Majesty the King,” he said. “From a country not many knew, Bhutan has become one of the most popular countries because of our sound policies, His Majesty’s policy of Gross National Happiness and the democratisation process, an initiative which came from the Throne.”

“The change within such a short span of time is tremendous, which I never dreamt of.” Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji is confident that the democratisation process would succeed. “The foundation has been laid by the King and all we have to do is build on that foundation,” he said. “People’s apprehension is misplaced. I am confident that the democratic process would succeed.”

The minister ruled out interest in politics, but said that he would continue to serve the King, country and the people in his own capacity.

Lyonpo Leki Dorji

The information and communication minister, Lyonpo Leki Dorji is one of the three ministers who have not joined politics.

The minister said that Bhutan has achieved tremendous development in a short span of time. “In the information section, Bhutan has changed from a gossip society to an information savvy country,” he said. “It is an honour to have been a part of the great change.”

Lyonpo Leki Dorji believes that one need not join politics to serve the people and the country. “One can be a part of civil society and still serve the people and the government,” he said. The minister believes that the political process would succeed in Bhutan because it was a culmination of a gradual and long process initiated as far back as 1953 when the Third Druk Gyalpo instituted the National Assembly.

“We did not have political parties, but the policy empowered the people even in the past,” he said. Lyonpo Leki Dorji said the greatest challenge of the political process is making people understand the process and having the right people. “If they join for the sake of position and perks it is a wrong profession. Politics is about building trust and confidence with the people, about understanding the needs of the people and translating them into programmes.”

The minister also said that people need to be educated on the political process. “We need lot of political education. Until this is achieved we will not have real democracy in essence. People have to understand what or why they are voting.”

Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho

The education minister, Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho, had decided not to take part in politics. However, he said that he would continue serving the government and people in every possible way.

“I will always be available in case the country and the government requires my service,” he said. Sharing his experiences, Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho said that since he joined the service in 1976, he had, in every way, an enriching experience serving the King and the country.

Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho is one of the three ministers who will serve under the care taker government. “We have reached a crucial juncture and it is a challenging period for me and my colleagues to make sure that the democratisation process succeeds.”

Source : Kuenselonline


arcibaldo said...

thanks for dropping by my blog.

i've met briefly one of the ministers, mr. sangay ngedup when he visited the philippines last year. he seems a principled and down-to-earth minister. i heard he is also running in the elections.

ugyen said...

HI Arcibald,
Well Lyonpo Sangay Needup is an principled Minister and he is indeed running the election.

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