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Bhutanese must participate in elections: Chief Advisor

The chief advisor of the interim government, Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk said that Bhutanese have to participate in the elections and ensure that whichever party comes to power is the government of the majority.  

Addressing the first press conference of the interim government, the chief advisor said the Bhutanese people need to change mindset and participate in elections.  

“The biggest risk I see for our way of life, Constitutional democratic monarchy, is going to be apathy and indifference of the people,” he said. “We need to participate intelligently and purposefully in elections. Inclusive democracy demands the participation of the people.”

Everywhere in the world, voter participation is falling, he said. But the standards have been set high and the media could play a role in maintaining the standards. 

He urged the media to ensure fairness and level playing field for all political parties and their candidates. 

Remaining apolitical, he said, is sometimes taken to the heights by not even talking about politics. The civil servants are educated, he said and they need not go to political party conventions and can make their informed decision and choice through the debates on media, he said. 

“For the people of Bhutan, be mindful that it is the citizens who vote and not residents. Therefore, participating in the elections and ensuring that it is the government of the majority is important,” he said. 

He cautioned the people not to believe everything on social media and to use it responsibly. The chief advisor said that it will soon issue orders stating that apolitical institutions must remain apolitical and will ask the civil servants to curtail travel if not necessary.  

The interim government will ensure that there is no disharmony and conflict in the community post elections. “Whichever government comes the bureaucracy must have the ability to transfer its loyalty,” he said. 

 Interim government

Chief Advisor Tshering Wangchuk said that the advisors were deliberately given portfolios where they don’t have prior experience. He said in the event a person who has served in a ministry is appointed, as the advisor to the ministry again, there is possibility of micromanagement. 

“When micromanagement is done then the bureaucracy may be rubbed the wrong way and become a problem for the interim government,” he said. “The advisors are also expected to learn something new.”

The advisors will be responsible for the broad oversight and not take any policy decisions. 

The secretaries are informed that should they need to take any policy decision it has to be appraised to the interim government, he said. 

“We’ve insisted on the delivery of the services from the ministries and agencies to the people as it is the right of the people,” he said. “We hope that they continue to render quick, efficient and effective services to the people.”

The Chief Advisor submitted his profound gratitude to His Majesty The King for appointing the interim government and selecting advisors who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields. 

The interim government pledged that they would do their utmost to fulfill His Majesty’s vision for free and fair elections and the trust and confidence reposed in the interim government.

The interim government’s term ends on October 30.

Tshering Palden

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