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Friday, April 25th, 2014 - 7:27 AM
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L for Legislator

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What can I become? No one likes rules or enjoys following one.  But the law of the land is important to ensure everything is in place, and everyone is given that fair chance.  Which is why having legislators, who can frame “good” rules, becomes imperative.

Who can become a legislator?

-To be a member of a legislature, one needs to be elected by people in either house of  Parliament, National Council or National Assembly

-Require good subject knowledge, backed by undeterred affection for the country and people

-A very hard working person, since it involves interacting with people, receiving feedback, understanding ground scenario and doing relevant researches

-Since one needs to function under the public lens, someone who can take criticism

Where to study?

-Since the key spirit is to serve people, studying any subject anywhere works, as long as one manages to secure enough votes during elections

-Sherubtse college and Royal Thimphu college offers courses in political science

-Good law schools in neighbouring country India

 Qualification

-To be eligible to partake in the election process, one needs to fulfill the criteria stated in electoral laws for either NA or NC

-Among others, one should be at least 25 years, possess a formal university degree, and be a registered voter of that constituency

-If it is the upper house (NC) you have in mind, you should not belong to a political party

-A law or political science background is an added advantage

Opportunity

-With the elections in the offing this year, good opportunity to hop in

-Each time a Parliament is formed, there is a requirement for 47 NA members and 25 NC members (of whom His Majesty appoints five). They serve for five years.

-A great opportunity to learn through interaction with people and in perusing books while lawmaking

-A starting salary of more than Nu 50,000 with other allowances

Challenges

-As an elected figure, you become a face for your constituency or people you represent.  So, besides being mindful, one requires to conduct well to lead by example

-Not many voters, at present, understand the true role of legislators, and assume they are there to deliver projects and activities.  So it involves going beyond legislation and doing things for people

-Bound to receive all sorts of criticism, but should learn to take it constructively

-No specified working hour

-Some serving MPs found deep-rooted cultural practices, like giving soelras challenging, since it used up a major portion of their salary


Failure was his stepping stone to success

If he had not failed that year, he would be seated in one of the government offices doing “a 9 to 5” job.

But Tshewang Jurme failed, stayed back in Sherubtse college, re-appeared the exam, got married that same year, and completed university with a commerce degree in 2006.

Having to stay back also provided him the opportunity to attend the draft Constitution deliberation held at the college that year, giving him a sense of what was coming.

While he was mulling to try his hands in local government, National Council elections came.  There was only one candidate from Bumthang, so he decided to take his chance from his gewog, Ura.

When he got elected, at 26, he was one of the youngest Parliamentarians.

“I felt lost, took time to cope, and tried to seek direction from senior colleagues, who were very forthcoming,” Tshewang Jurme, a cheerful personality, said.

“It was a huge responsibility, and I worried whether I’d be able to do justice,” he said.

But over the years, he read, talked to people, made his voice heard, served as chairperson for a couple of committees within the House, and also got elected as one of the vice presidents for a forum for Asia-Pacific parliamentarians, involving 35 countries.

Today, he is a different man.

“It’s not a joke when you’re making a law for a country,” he said. “It not just needs to be workable in the society, but should address the future, all these should be done keeping in mind country’s peace and sovereignty.”

Having been involved in numerous Acts the house endorsed, Tshewang Jurme said lawmaking was not an overnight job, but a result of countless consultations, deliberations and about putting right things in right place.

“If somebody is seeking employment and trying for Parliament, this isn’t the right place,” he said.

Tshewang Jurme said, for legislators, who are also involved in reviewing issues and policies, somebody with substantial experience and some subject knowledge is what voters should look for.

“This is not to say that young people have no chance,” he said, adding, with the willingness to learn, young caught up very well and, at times, even poured fresh perspective in the lawmaking process.

To those, who are young and interested to join Parliament, he said, preparation was the key.

“Prepare, stay abreast with developments in the country, do back-grounding, talk to people and, if you feel you’re ready, come in,” he said.

By Kesang Dema

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