Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Democracy and the leaders, what can go wrong when power is vested blindly...

The already bad english with many messes in few lines can tell
how much the writer was mentally disturbed at that moment.
How much do we count on democracy? As much as we may expect, I fear so much of abuses. Do we make an effort to elect a leader and end up being targeted? Or do we make so much of effort in the name of tsawa-sum by voting a government to hand over the power without leadership?

People may wonder why this is held without posting until now and why only today? Well obviously I was worried at the beginning and now I realize the political trick that has made me worry, and so I worry no more. 

Besides, I take the chance to post this story also having gained confidence from honorable PM’s facebook (31/01/2017) post that called to expose any corrupt practices. I would also like to remind the readers that this story does not at all imply the current government, which I am always proud of although it is a story of an action of a member of the government in his own personal capacity.

This is my testimonial experience of the democracy in power, a strong case that put me in a dilemma whether to respect democracy or avoid. This is a small story how there is so many in the democracy we think is the best solution. Politics I never thought would go this far to use the deceptive word such as "Gongma,"  meaning superior, to frighten and suppress individuals on behalf of their voters in believe of divisive politics as their way to orange scarf (Minister's scarf).

It is a calm but a busy day on December 15, 2014 because we have a special day on December 17. Sumtrhang was preparing for our annual Kangsoel with some excitements around. Because since the beginning of the revival project of Sumthrang's heritage, the oldest Mask dances in the country dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth’s 60th birth anniversary and long life in our own simple way, it progressed and for the first time after about 20 year’s of non performance making it an endangered culture, the mask dances are back, revived to be performed during Sutmrang Kangsoel, which corresponded to the National day of the year 2014.

Some gomchen’s (laity) from Ura and Sumthrang were helping in preparations to prepare the ritual cake for the festival. And a former umzey (cymbal master) of Sumthrang, who has never been a part of sumtrhang temple for several years after he abandoned his association to Sumthrang temple long ago steps into the monastery and begins to make the ritual cake of his own in a separate bowl.

He even goes to the extent saying: "all the choesung torma(deity ritual cakes) will be made by me.” I tried to reason him to stop doing that. He does not listen. After some efforts to convince him to stop, I grew furious, because a man enters a private temple, a monument which houses spiritual beings both peaceful and wrathful, which not only is of concern to the private family of the temple but to the village, valley and country driven by divisive politics and encouraged by personal malice tries to impose his arrogance. Therefore I snatched the bowel in which his dough for torma is and threw it for dogs. 

Yet, it did not stop him, he began to make another one to which my father the current incumbent Sumthrang Choejey, intervened and told him that; "you may make as you wish if this is what you want to do. But you should take the responsibility in case if anything happens in the valley after Kangsoel is performed with the ritual cakes you made from personalized flour, which we do not know from where you bought and for what.” This worked well on him and was able to shake the odd man and decides to dump his second dough himself and leaves the temple. Here I realized that I was not a good negotiator in such case.

Everything reset to normal. The next day my father and I are at a cousin’s place to borrow some things that we need during the kangsoel. My phone rang and the number calling was 17609989.

It was the than Dashi Dzongrab of Jakar dzongkhag Sonam Tshering (Who later in 2018 resigned from civil service to join the party of the same minister). He asked me to meet him alone. We invited him to our cousin’s place but he refuses and wants me out to meet him alone. I went to meet him and he starts. “Gachi ra bay ye lo (What is happening) ?” I thought he was enquiring about the issues I raised on facebook about the stone slab that is being extracted from a heritage site some time before. As I begin to talk about the site. “Men men, choe gi umzey lu Gachi bay yi lo. Ro 'gongm' tsu gi tug dhey ra matro wa chin dra mena (No, No. What did you do to Umzey. I think it is better not to disturb the superiors),” he literally threatens me as if I disturbed the so called superiors.

The irony is that a real issue of heritage destruction is never attended to by the dzongkhag while the head of the dzongkhag takes the pain in coming this far to undertake suppression under the command of a minister who's interest shows no sign of service to the national interest using the word Gongma, the superior. 

Bemused and I stood little silent. What? I thought for myself in dismay and I explained what happened in detail. It was shocking, Dzongrab on a weekend drives a government car with a driver over 50 kilometers to just threaten me. I for one instant did not question who the “gongm" (superior) he referred to and left there. My father probably did not feel good about it, he accompanied by late Gup (Gewog or Local County Chief) arrived at the road side after me, Dzongrab acts normal and took leave immediately after few minutes of greeting to my father and the gup, saying “Yaya (Ok) samten!” in quite a polite way he took off in his hilux truck.

But I realized I should ask who is the ‘gongm’ he was talking about. I called few minutes after Dzongrab left because, who could that 'gongm' be to sent dasho dzongrab (deputy district CEO)  this far for a patty internal issue of Sumthrang Temple on a weekend holiday and the answer came; “Ngultse Lyonpo (Finance Minister).” 

That was also the moment when the little trust that I have had for bureaucrats got drained deep in to the hell.  I felt nervous and it turned out to anger. Technically the Finance Minister has send dzongrab to interrogate me using ‘gongm’ for coverage for this patty reason.

And I felt little worried. Sumthrang has been under political brainwash for some time under divisive political propaganda and now I understand that it was not only the local coordinator involved in this dirty politics but a minister as I have always doubted. What has happened here is that the ‘umzey’ seems to have been sent by his associates who are mostly the members of the minister's party to disturb Sumthrang Kangsoel. While the Umzey failed the mission, the story could have been reported to the minister through local party channel to which the minister must have acted on behalf of the party member/s. Is it healthy? Isn’t this not corruption? This is obviously childish but dangerous.

Although we do not know what kind of information is being fed to the minister by his coordinator/s who could have used a persuasive rhetoric to use the minister's power. But minister acting on behalf of his party workers on such patty individual matter is pathetic and foolish. I do not think government minister can use such arrogant power to interfere in personal and internal matters of even the government institutions so, forget about private individuals and institutions. And sending a government bureaucrat to officially threaten a private citizen with no good reason is I believe a serious misuse of power, a crime, dangerous.  But I hope and wish there is no such minister coming to power anymore in future.

I felt like I was in an Indian Bollywood movie where party leaders sent goons to threaten and suppress people they don't like. I would wish that the high ranking responsible political party members avoid such practices in future or the good bureaucrats need to be cautious to act under such malicious individualistic commands of their ignorant superiors as this. Because, this is very dangerous that it could be fatal to public harmony.

Bumthang then is under the dzongrab’s administration without a Dzongda (District Chief Executive or the Governor).  This also poses a question that to what extend a bureaucrat shall act upon the commands of an elected minister, do we need a guideline or should they do anything that a minister commands to do because it might be of a ladder to his/her career?

Well, back to the event, I was worried thinking that it could trigger some unwanted issues to
Quick concern letter we thoughtfully
managed on that day
the ongoing preparation of our Kangsoel festival because there is a backing of a minister endorsed by the district administration. We began a quick typing of a concerned letter to the Gewog administration as a precautionary means. The Sumthrang temple put the letter immediately to the gewog with a copy forwarded to the Dzongrab with wishes expressed to have the concerned minister also be notified who is also the minister in-charge of Bumthang and Trongsa districts.

Can our ministers be as blunt as this and be individualistic and politically so personalized even in such patty matters if he did this knowingly. If he was tricked by his coordinator for his/her own vested reasons, then it shows how weak the minister’s leadership is and how little he is of any leadership quality.

Does a minister always have to listen to their local party coordinators for such patty irrational matters not of nation's interest? In this case, it looked like the minister would even make a kill if the coordinator has asked to do so? How horrifying it indeed is? If every political party during their rule does every thing in their power listening to the party coordinators and side an individual for party reasons, what shall we expect? Can it be the service to tsawa-sum (King-Country-People) at all?

If our elected leaders do not stop thinking so narrowly in their party lines, I wonder how far the trust and believe between the government and people, people to people and leaders to the subject would prevail? If distrust is built, what can we expect from a democracy?

And from this experience, I will vote no one, but respect every government, I will hate no one but be a cretic to every members that I feel are not right. I shall not put loyalty to parties, but respect democracy. In the end I resolve to be a just citizen and a humble subject to my kings and this kingdom but will face any other power, even if I had to risk suffering.

Such evils shall be stopped individually and collectively if we ever care what we call Tsawasum. 

1 comment:

  1. Until the advent of democracy, "Gongm" meant our beloved Kings and the Royal Family but now, unfortunately, we have many "Gongms". And the reason we have many "Gongms" is also because we have many "Chamchas".