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Of style and substance

At least in presenting the various party lines, the presidential debate served its purpose 

It was more an opportunity to showcase each of the political party’s leaderships, this presidential public debate held yesterday in Thimphu, as they introduced their parties to the electorate and informed them in brevity of their ideologies.

Much before the debates began, perhaps as a show of support, members of the four political parties and their workers from across the country, former ministers and assembly members, besides a few businessmen and students, poured into the Royal Thimphu College auditorium by 5pm yesterday.

The debate was being broadcast live for the nation to see.

An hour later, it was ladies first, led by Druk Chirwang Tshogpa president Lily Wangchhuk, followed by Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s Dorji Choden in measured steps.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa president Jigmi Y Thinley entered with a smile and a traditional bow at the audience, and People’s Democratic Party president Tshering Tobgay followed him.

Clad in blue, with striking red collar rolled out, Lily Wangchhuk started first with her 10-minute speech, beginning with how she decided to join politics before delving into her party’s ideology.

She said her party was about taking GNH to the grassroots.  Happiness, she said was an individual pursuit, and that the job of the government was to create an ambiance suitable for people to realise that.

On the issue of her party having more young candidates, she said young candidates in her party were those that struggled in life and pulled through many hardships.

She said they were in the best of positions to understand the issues facing the common people in the villages and the youth in particular.

All the while, sitting on a chair beside the podium, Jigmi Y Thinley looked into the far end of the crowd, smiling on familiar faces along the front row that his eyes met, and occasionally scribbling on an open file on his lap.

Dorji Choden sat still, with her eyes rolling from one corner to another and up to the far end of the auditorium, while Tshering Tobgay sat on the chair stiff and stone-like, casting a random glare into the crowd.

Much like the way she walked, Dorji Choden began her speech in an even-paced gentle tone.

She spoke of her humble upbringing and the struggles in getting herself educated, before talking about her party and how they had envisioned a people’s government.

In a country of small population and without economic prowess to boast of, people, she said took the centre-stage, and that it was these people’s support her party sought.

Inequality, she said, required attention today and that, should her party form the government, it would be the kind that people should not have to fear or feel intimidated about.

As Dorji Choden finished her 10 minutes, Jigmi Y Thinley sprang up from his chair and began speaking with his usual ease.

His government’s achievements in poverty reduction, hydropower projects, tourism, roads, electricity and telecommunication facilities were what he reiterated.

Following that, he began listing the fruits of these achievements that his party would work on, should they be elected.

He also spoke of the need for a clear focus on youth unemployment, farm mechanisation, further decentralising power to the local levels, and improving loans facilities for farmers.

Civil service rules, he said, needed a relook, particularly in terms of their entitlements.

Corruption, he said, would continue to be on their list of issues to curb and that, during his term, he set a precedent for all future prime ministers to be open for investigations.

It was then Tshering Tobgay’s turn to bow in front of the audience and return to his military posture and to the podium.

Perhaps used to playing the opposition, he wore the same tone as in the assembly, and said he doubted if the debate was going in the manner stipulated by the election commission.

Unlike the previous speakers, who touched more on their pledges to the voters, he said the debate should be more on the parties’ ideologies.

After that he talked about how the party was formed and that its objective of decentralising power to the people remained unchanged.

Rupee crunch, unemployment and rural-urban migration, among others, he said, were issues facing the country and, if not addressed immediately, would roll into something that could cost the country dear.

For that to happen, he said, policy change was needed, change in ways to conduct business and, all in all, it was a change in government this called for.

Therefore, he asked the electorate to support PDP.

The debate ended with each of the party president pitching questions to one another and clarifying and reinforcing their beliefs, ideals and philosophies.

By Samten Wangchuk

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  1. was really impressed by DCT’s president. she was really open and to the point. now i feel that DCT is capable in taking the country forward. Even PDP and DPT were equally good, but they have to be, after all they are experienced. But DCT who is very new into the field played a good part and it was really appreciating and impressive too. wish DCT makes a way to a general round. All the best to all four political parties and good luck.

  2. Mr rating is

    DNT: 70
    DCT: 60

    I think it was for all to see that JYT overshadowed the debate and proved his mettle.

  3. Tshering Tobgay won the debate on the following grounds:
    1. Arrogance and rudeness.
    2. meaningless and exaggerated narration.
    3. critical and sarcastic remarks.
    Even fools were laughing when he said that he can make roads free of floods and snow in Bhutan. Even the highways built 3 decades back are blocked during monsoon time. In Bhutan, a person has to be born with destiny and prophecy to become a leader. We know who has that fortune and destiny.

  4. OMG….everybody is rinpochhe and truelku here. They can predict and foresee 2013 election. I am afraid if DNP wins. The President is not that much strong. There will be some ego clash among the members when decisions are made. DCT has young candidates and will have attitude problems. PDP is good in criticizing and expect all roads to be pliable during rainy and snowy seasons and during natural calamities. Looks like OL has supernatural power to clear all these obstacles.Forget about party’s ideologies and see who is capable among the presidents. East or west, north or south, Khotsa Lyonchen is the best and will be the best.

  5. The winner is PDP president for following showcase in debate:
    1. intellects;
    2. Good sense of humor;
    3. Connectivity
    4. Humbleness
    5. good looks
    So my sincere prayers and best wishes for PDP. May you win it this time!

  6. PDP president has intellects, good humour, loads of common sense and most important part is that he has immense sense of connectivity with the common people due to his humbleness and frank nature. I ‘ve become a fan of PDP president and would want him to lead us.

    Best wishes, sincere prayers and good luck for PDP.

  7. The other thing that shone through and through during the debate was the OLs obvious hatred for the PM. For the sake of his party, I hope he learns to be more accommodating of others in the next debate. And for heavens sake, please stop the rhetoric on the farm roads, we have heard this a hundred times and more.

  8. The first political parties President’s debate told us very succinctly, that, at this juncture in our democracy, for all his faults, there can be no other leader than the present PM. At this moment of very trying times for our small country, what we need is a global leader and not just a local leader and the Ex PM fits the bill perfectly.

    All four party Presidents were good, but, the Ex PM overshadowed the other three by a country mile.

  9. In bhutan there are only two …..jewels…..
    1. The king and
    2. lyoenchen jigme yoezer thinley.

    what is left with our bhutanese to do beyound our imigination, lyoenchen JYT knows how to deal with the world forget about small country. He serves as minister in our government where some couldn’t even fulfill there provision period in there specific job or else where driver cannot drive a car for 5 years and resign, I can see our lyoenchen starving not for money but for bhutanese people happiness, peace and tranqulity.
    for him staying back at home is not a problem , without him in this specific time it will be very difficult to achieve national goals in our DRUKYUL .
    Therefore please bhutanese u have rice and food, choose rice this will not keep u hungry because it can be cultivte time and again.DRUK PHUENSUM TSHOGPA can turn us gold.

  10. If you want to decide for only leader, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s president Jigmi Y Thinley is the best choice for our country. We want him to rule our government like he did in the past. He is the true leader of our destiny and the leader of GNH. But if you want to decide for only political parties, I think PDP will do better.

  11. Am Lily struggled to speak for the whole 10 minutes and she did not what to speak as there was still some time left. She could have simply said “Thank you” and stopped before time. Am Dorji was very slowly narrating her life story in order to pass 10 minutes. PM had to rush with his words in order to inform as much as he could in the stipulated time. OL as usual in the Parliament hall started and ended his speech criticizing DPT leader and even other parties. So, except DPT leader, I did not find much substance in other’s speech. I’m That was exactly what my friends shared the next day in our workplace. So, I’m very confident that the history will repeat itself and 2013 will be no different to 2008 election results.

  12. may be i didn’t take the first parliamentary election that seriously and did ignored what so ever, but it was a blunder on my part and there may be many like me, so, this time i can’t commit the same mistake. it was thought provoking indeed listening to the debate among the four presidents. i full hardheartedly like to thanks ECB and BBS for screening a crucial live show to familiarize the citizens to elect the able not the mightier. PDP’s was a inspiring and hopping to come out as a winner in the general election and hope people will do the right thing this time unlike the first one.

  13. My rating
    DNT 8.5
    PDP 8
    DPT 7.8
    DCT 7.5

    gud luck everyone

  14. whole nation waited for the debate to know and select their leader who can lead ahead and taking the nation outside the world. till the debate i was to vote for PDT. but the debate of the presidents of the four party proves that bhutan can have no better leader than DPT prseident. now i and my whole family are voting for DPT. the DPT president hasa quality of world leadership. the PDP president i had i hope willm speak good but he let me down. he feels like a dictatorship and speaks the same as OL in the hall.
    now i pray atleast for another 5 years the DPT president will be better. so people of nation think nice and vote.try seeing both side of the coins. so dont look to the weakness of DPT only. see the achivement too as brought out by the DPT president in the debate.all promises seem to have been full filled.

  15. If arrogance and bad attitude were the criteria for the debate, then PDP surely won. However, if it was a political debate, then everyone knows who won it. If PDP did not win under former party’s president’s leadership, will the party win under present leadership? What other parties were simply saying that they will do were nothing new, but the things already by the past government.

  16. PDP won the Debate…Hope peolpe across the country should vote for rite person. PDP will surely win this yr election and Opposition should be DNT…

  17. There are four candidates in front of us. Upon our recommendation in form of secret ballots, one of them will be Prime Minister and One, OL. But we have to be very wise because, a Prime Minister will not be appointed and removed as we like. Of course, it is very difficult to judge people but we should try our best to select the really good one. Friends, Saint Nagar Juna is an advisor to a Great Dharma Raj and he analysised people in four catagories and mangos as the example. Generally, a sour looking mango tastes sour, a sweet looking mango tastes sweet but very often, a sour looking mango tastes sweet and sweet looking mango tastes sour according to his findings.It is not necessary that each of our four party presidents corespond to each mango. In the debate we have seen some getting furious over critcal questions, some becoming emotional on sentimental issues, some maping the sky but our leader should have not only a sharp head but a heart as well. Not like evrybody is asuming, we are standing on a critical juncture both politically , socially and economically. Hope every bhutanese will discharge their duties of appointing a good prime minister and a good government. Cheery Ho!

  18. i loved PDP’S speech the most……it inspired me so much….it was so soothing to hear OL speak his heart out..Cheerio to OL…you won the debate…congrats…hope you will win the election too…all the best..

  19. A big appreciation to ECB for always great work done. Just my view or suggestion; since primary NA election is on the party symbol and BBS being able to each all corners of Bhutan esp. rural areas, I request ECB if possible to put colour printed party LOGO in front each podium that the party holds for speaking in next public debate. Also, as BBS focuses to individual party president while speaking in live, a big colour LOGO with name of party president be tagged on the buttom of TV screen so that rural village people can understand the LOGO.

    Just my views only.

  20. my rating of the presidents based on public live debate is:

    PDP: 78
    DPT: 77
    DCT: 75
    DNT: 74.5


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