This is how the country’s only urologist sees his resignation from civil service to join politics
A letter from the Royal Civil Service Commission, he received on Wednesday morning, was what sent urologist Dr Lotay Tshering running around to mobilise about Nu 6.2M.
That was the amount he had to pay the government to leave the civil service for politics and for speaking to the media.
For as much as he was interested, following requests from his family, relatives and colleagues to stay back, Dr Lotay Tshering had reconsidered his decision to join politics. The financial obligation of Nu 6.2M, he said was another factor that deterred him earlier from leaving the hospital.
Dr Lotay Tshering was reprimanded for his comments in the media because according to the commission, he had breached BCSR 2012, civil service Act and violated the Constitution by doing so. The letter also said he was liable for termination should he continue talking to the media.
“That was the bombshell on my head,” he said, adding the whole day he was doing endoscopy it was with a very heavy heart.
“But I couldn’t sleep; I cried because after 12 years of sincere hard work, and after having loved this profession for so long, I sincerely still feel that I don’t deserve that letter.”
Dr Lotay Tshering, who is now out of the civil service and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s south Thimphu candidate, however, still stands by the comments he made in the media, of not having made any “obvious criticism to the government.”But he also believes that the former health minister did not do much in cleaning or fixing the procurement system in the health ministry and said that the fact that many doctors are still unhappy means something is still wrong with the system,
“Then at 1.30am, Thursday early morning, I got up, rewrote my resignation, to resign on moral grounds,” he said. “If I have broken so many rules and regulations and if I had violated the Constitution, then I don’t deserve to be in the civil service.”
When he decided to resign on moral grounds, he said the amount of money he had to pay the government didn’t bother him.
“When it was about my moral or principles, 62 or 64 lakhs, is peanuts, because two things that cannot be costed are my decisions to resign on moral ground, and of putting my citizenship above my profession,” he said.
So how did he manage to mobilise Nu 6.2M, an amount, which is almost equal to the fund the election commission would give to each party?
“You won’t believe how much I pleaded with people and how much I ran around requesting for loans,” he said, adding his friends, family, relatives and few well-wishers pooled in, although a majority of the money came from his family members, who felt he should ‘get out”, after seeing the letter from RCSC.
“I mortgaged some of my sister’s properties, took a loan from my wife’s building, and got few hundred thousands from here and there,” Dr Lotay Tshering, who arranged the cash in about a week’s time, said. “As soon as I got Nu 6.2M, I drove straight to RCSC and handed over seven different cheques.”
While he would repay the Bank of Bhutan’s loan of Nu 2.5M in installments, he owes the rest to his family, relatives and friends, with whom no terms and conditions have been made.
Although Dr Lotay Tshering may not be the first doctor to leave for politics, he is perhaps the first to pay up his service obligation for politics. Another doctor, who had also put in his resignation to join party politics, is public health department’s Dr Lobzang Dorji, but he also has to pay if he wishes to leave. To date, he is still with the health ministry. Former health secretary, who resigned on moral grounds following ACC investigations, Dr Gado Tshering has also joined party politics.
In the last elections, three doctors, including those in administrative posts, had contested. None of them made it to the house then but, when five specialists had put in their resignations to join politics, the health ministry had dissuaded them, just as it did with Dr Lotay Tshering.
“We don’t want them to resign, because the country currently faces an acute shortage of doctors in general and specialists in particular,” a health ministry official had said then.
Health ministry still gives the same reason today, whenever a doctor wishes to leave the system. No health official wanted to be named for fear of being reprimanded by the commission, but doctors expressed that Dr Lotay’s leaving would affect the hospital’s surgical services.
For instance, the transfer of a junior surgeon from Thimphu to Gelephu would now be held back, while the surgeries that Dr Lotay Tshering had scheduled until November would now be rescheduled and taken up by his colleagues.
There are almost 200 surgeries that Dr Lotay Tshering had scheduled and about 80 percent of them are gallstone problems that Dr Lotay Tshering performed after senior specialist Dr Sonam Dukpa superannuated. “While our surgeons may handle general cases, we might have to refer complicated cases,” a health official said. “It would definitely affect the services but what to do?”
Dr Lotay Tshering is aware that he is up against, what he calls a formidable candidate of a strong party and, despite paying up the service obligation, he said it wouldn’t matter if he lost the election.
“Medically, I feel there’s a small cancer cell growing in our five-year democratic child,” Dr Lotay Tshering said. “If I didn’t join now, the damage would be done, and that cancer cell would have grown too much that it would be too late.”
By Sonam Pelden