August 18, 2007

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa vs People’s Democratic Party

What should the Bhutanese voter expect in 2008? The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa and the People’s Democratic Party formally applied this week to register as political parties to contest the 2008 elections. In the absence of any other parties being formed, one of these parties will form the first elected government and the other will sit in opposition.

In interviews with Kuensel, the chosen leaders of the two parties shared their thoughts at this stage of the electoral process. Their party manifestos are not yet public but they provided some insight into what the Bhutanese electorate can expect over the coming months and, perhaps, the next five years.

Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup - People's Democratic Party

Q1. Ap Penjore is a farmer from Gasa, Sonam Choden is a doma seller in Sibsoo, Kencho Dorji is a general manager of a corporation, Dechen is a civil servant. Why should each of these people vote for you?
Nobody is compelled to vote for anyone. This is democracy. They should vote for PDP if they believe in our party. We will make sure that delivery of public services to each of these people will be more efficient – without any harassment or delays, personal initiatives will be encouraged both in the civil service and private sector, and our government will be more responsive and meaningful to the people. The PDP is genuinely concerned about every segment of our population and we have plans to benefit all of them, regardless of where they live or what they do.

I have never been content to sit in Thimphu and pass orders. I believe in travelling to all corners of our country with a team of professionals, meeting directly with the people, and working closely with them to find solutions to their problems and resolving them.

Q2. Say your party wins in 2008 election. Can you give us a profile of your Cabinet, either as it exists or as you envision it?
The PDP is not made of young guns but a group of some of the most dedicated and down-to-earth professionals in their respective fields. All of them have reached an age when they can fulfill the responsibilities of a minister and other positions of leadership. Hence, it is not true that the PDP will form a cabinet of young inexperienced ministers. The PDP will have no difficulty in coming out with a dynamic cabinet.

Q3. As we look at the mixed candidature of the former ministers and officials as well as many new faces there is talk of “old wine and new wine.” What would are your comments?
Bottom-line – it doesn’t matter whether the wine is old or new, what matters is its quality. The PDP has quality in its stock of both old and new wine – a heady mixture of wisdom and experience of old, and energy and dynamism of new.

It was a conscious decision of the PDP to make sure that old wine did not outnumber the new and thereby suppress the vitality, and fresh and innovative thinking of the new. We‘ve all heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” and post 2008 we will be treading new ground.

Q4. How will your government differ in its functioning from the government of the past 10 years?
The PDP has a coherent group of professionals and so one thing is certain, we will not have the inherent problem of the lack of inter-sectoral coordination, which has been one of the main obstacles in the functioning of the government until now.

This new group will have new approaches and “out of the box” solutions for some of the challenges facing Bhutan today such as unemployment, private sector development, rural development and the quality of education.

Our government in this new era will be “for the people” – we will be there to serve them, with humility.

Q5. Employment, education, roads and infrastructure, preserving Bhutan’s culture, preserving the environment, health care. How would you number these issues, from 1 to 6, in terms of prioritisation, and why?
I place “roads and infrastructure” and “employment” at the top of my list because they are pressing concerns that require immediate attention and action. We can substantially reduce poverty, one of the primary goals of the PDP, by providing road access to rural areas. Our experience has shown that access to roads and incidence of poverty are inextricably linked, and the lack of infrastructure is an insurmountable obstacle to private sector growth. The PDP is also seriously concerned with youth unemployment. The youth are our nation’s future but we need to start by making sure that each of them can realize their full potential.

Next on my list are “health” and “education” as they are prerequisites for any person to lead a happy and productive life. Moreover, if our country is to move forward in any field – be it economic, social, cultural, or other – a high quality and relevant education is critical.

Last, but certainly not the least, I have “culture” and “environment.” We are blessed with a rich and exceptional cultural and natural heritage that have been preserved and nurtured by our farsighted Kings. It is our responsibility to protect and pass on this rich inheritance to our children unspoiled.

Q6. What is your view of party ideologies? Will ideology play an important role in the 2008 elections?
Every political party has to have an ideology that covers security, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and a host of other issues. The ideology of the PDP will be clearly spelled out in our party Charter and Manifesto and these will have an impact on the 2008 elections. Our party is committed to continuing on the path of our beloved Kings by serving our people with humility, and to put into action what we say we will do – to “walk the talk”.

Q7. How do you see Bhutan 10 years from now? How do you see it 20 years from now?
In the immediate future, democracy needs to be institutionalized and strengthened for our people to reap its benefits.

Within the next 10 to 20 years, I see Bhutan as a country where people trust and have fun working with each other, making the whole far greater than the sum of its parts; where all women and men enjoy unity in diversity taking pride in their shared heritage, and valuing all sentient beings that enrich their living environment; where its people live in peace, knowing that it is the fruit of their own vibrant participation in a just political process and good governance; and where its citizens live in dignity, free from the shackles of poverty.

Q8. Apart from His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, who is your role model?
My parents, who, despite going through a series of trials and tribulations, hardships, adversities and misfortunes that would have broken any family, had the strength to move on and make me and my siblings what we are today. My parents instilled in me values such as hard work, dignity of labour, humility, compassion, spirituality, tolerance, vitality of life, and strength in the face of adversity.

My father pinches pennies when it comes to himself, but is willing to empty his bank account for religious works. Over the years he has donated many personal religious items to lhakhangs and monasteries believing that it can benefit the larger society. Amongst others, most importantly, he built Sangachoekor, Khuruthang Lhakhang and Do Jagar Lhakhang and if he can, he would like to build a chorten as grand as Boudhnath of Nepal. As a son I can say that my father is different from what some people perceive him to be.

My siblings and I can never repay my parents for the struggles they endured to make us what we are today.

In more recent times I have also been inspired by the hundreds of health workers, agriculture extension officers and teachers who are putting in dedicated service to the people under extremely difficult conditions in the remote parts of our country.

Q9. The world talks about branding. What is the image of Bhutan that you would like to portray to the world?
A happy and strong nation where people are proud to be Bhutanese; a country with enlightened Monarchs who have placed the overall happiness of their people before themselves and the singular pursuit of economic growth; a nation with a rich and living culture and spirituality; and a country that values its pristine natural environment.

Q10. What would you do to avoid the fractionalisation of Bhutanese society because of party politics?
Many years ago the people of a northern European nation were bitterly divided on a political issue. Remind them today and they will laugh about it. I would tell our people that as we embark under this new political system, divisions will emerge in our small society, but that it will pass. It is important for all our people to remember that we are first and foremost Bhutanese, and that all other divisions that we create – including political affiliations – should not come in the way of our overall unity and common interest in a bright and prosperous future for our country.

The PDP will put stronger and more earnest effort in reinforcing the sense of Bhutanese-ness and the sense of nationhood. Regardless of our background we have a responsibility to understand that as a small country we must remain united at all times – anything less is unacceptable. I have strong faith that our Bhutanese people will rise above any divisive forces that threaten to fractionalise our society.

Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley - President, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa

Q1. Ap Penjore is a farmer in Gasa, Sonam Choden is a doma seller in Sibsoo, Kencho Dorji is the general manager of a corporation, Dechen is a civil servant. Why should each of these people vote for you?
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is a party that is deeply committed to building a political culture governed by the highest ethical and moral standards. In so doing, abiding by the laws of the land is essential. Seeking people’s vote for individual candidates such as myself is unlawful until such time as the Election Commissioner announces the campaign dates.

Q2. Say your party wins in the 2008 election. Can you give us a profile of your Cabinet, either as it exists, or as you envision it?
It is a little too early and presumptuous for me to say at this stage. Hazarding a guess (as the party has not discussed this) in size, it will be around 10; in quality, highly professional and competent with a mix of old and new; in terms of equity, all regions will be represented.
Q3. As we look at the mixed candidature of former ministers and officials as well as many new faces there is talk of “old wine and new wine.” What are your comments?
I am not a connoisseur of wines. But I know why vintage is valued and why one must be hopeful of new wine and trust in its ability to please the expectant palate.

Q4. How will your government differ in its functioning from the government of the past 10 years?
Our government will be directly accountable to the electorate unlike in the past when it was mainly accountable to HM the King and the National Assembly.

Q5. Employment, education, roads and infrastructure, preserving Bhutanese culture, preserving the environment, health care. How would you number these issues, from 1 to 6, in terms of prioritisation, and why?
Here again, the responsibility of a leader is to provide vision. That does not mean he should impose his will on his party and take decisions on his own. Party Charter is still on the anvil and will be adopted by the General Assembly on the 20th of August. I will be better qualified to speak on this subject then.

Q6. What is your view of party ideologies? Will ideology play an important role in the 2008 elections?
I doubt whether ideologies will play a major role in party preference for the voter. As everywhere else, politics in Bhutan will be largely issue -based and personality oriented- the latter more so in the first elections. Political fortunes, after 2013, will be determined on the basis of how important issues have been addressed or resolved and how trustworthy the party leaders and people’s representatives have been.

Q7. How do you see Bhutan 10 years from now? How do you see it 20 years from now?
That will depend on how the people make use of the precious gift of the vote that HM the 4th king has given to them. Personally, I would like to see Bhutan graduating fully out of the LDC club with a tolerable level of unemployment, no pockets or sections of poverty and faithful adherence to the philosophy of GNH, all within a vibrant and orderly democracy in 10 years. 20 years on, I would like to see Bhutan having become what the world thinks it is today.

Q8. Apart from His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, who is your role model?
Nelson Mandela for his indomitable spirit and the power to forgive.

Q9. The world talks about branding. What is the image of Bhutan that you would like to portray to the world?
The Land of Happiness.

Q10. What would you do to avoid the fractionalisation of Bhutanese society because of party politics?
Politics need not be and must not be divisive. I would like to promote a brand of politics which aspires for and is motivated by nobler aspirations than those that it is normally associated with and instead, serve to bring even greater social cohesion and unity in our country. These, in fact, shall be the endeavours of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa.

3 comments:

dmr said...

hey there,
Looks like Bhutan is pretty busy now with election and all....

How are you doing?

davin

arcibald said...

i'm not clear about this but PDP did win the mock elections last may, right? does this mean that PDP may also actually win as the majority party for the 2008?

it'll be really interesting to see how the elections will turn out for bhutan next year. hopefully it will be very peaceful and clean, unlike what we have here.

ugyen said...

Hey Davin
Thanks for the comment and i am extremely glad to meet your mom and thanks for the gift, that was wonderful, well you mom said to convey her message that she is fine and reached bhutan.

Arcibald,
Well PDP are doing good and i am sure they have a good chance of winning it, there are more election talk these days.

Related Articles by Category



Widget by Hoctro

CONTACT US FOR TOUR BOOKING TO BHUTAN

Name

Email *

Message *