So our honourable Members of Parliament (MP) have been doing a lot of table tours. When the National Assembly brings out its annual report next month, the report in general and the MPs’ fake tour in particular, will make for an interesting reading.
It has been found that some MPs – Jomotsangkha-Martsala’s Pelzang Wangchuk, Limung-Toewang’s Chimi Dorji, and Panbang’s Dorji Wangdi – have claimed that they have been in their constituencies for more than 200 days. One of them has said that he has been in his constituency for 273 days. What these MPs, who have been with their constituents for an entire year almost, mean to say is that they did not attend the Parliament sessions and thereby did not fulfil their obligation as elected representatives. And they could effectively not be member of any committee because going by the number of days they were on tour they couldn’t have attended any committee meeting.
The Parliament’s rules of procedure says that an MP cannot be in the constituency for more than four months – 120 days in all. An MP can, and must, visit his or her constituency twice a year after the parliament session and the maximum he or she can spend in the constituency on each visit is 15 days. So, these our honourable MPs, who had been on the road meeting the electorate for the better part of the year evidently had no respect for the rules of procedure. Last month, the Speaker found that an MP whose constituency tour he had sactioned was in Thimphu when he should have been in his constituency. Our MPs, it turns out, have been cheating the State and the people who put their trust in them as their elected representatives.
When MP Pelzang Wangchuk was asked to clarify, he flatly refused. MP Dorji Wangdi said that what was reflected in the report was not true and that he had spent only 72 days in his constituency. MP Chimi Dorji said he was not aware that the report mentioned that he had spent more than 200 days in the constituency.
The MPs say there must be a “compilation error” from the Secretariat. The Secretariat doesn’t accept the possibility. Secretary General of National Assembly, Sangay Duba, said that MPs blaming the Secretariat and claiming that there could be compilation error is not fair because the report was validated with the MPs. That such oversights could happen in the house of the lawmakers is disturbing.
The House seriously needs some cleaning up. Everyone involved, from MPs to Secretariat officials, must be called to answer. MPs doing table tours or Secretariat making compilation error – both are unacceptable.