While PDP claims to take the moral high ground, DPT calls it stooping to cheap politics
Coinciding with the dissolution of the cabinet, the former opposition leader Tshering Tobgay yesterday returned his duty vehicle, a Prado, to the government, because his conscience does not permit him to retain it.
The interim government, which had taken office yesterday, however, asked the former opposition leader to officially submit the car keys and his letter surrendering the vehicle today.
His Majesty the King had granted their official vehicles to the outgoing prime minister, cabinet ministers, the national assembly speaker, the national council chairman and the leader of the opposition party after the national assembly dissolved on April 20.
The leader of the People’s Democratic party, Tshering Tobgay, in a press conference, said that His Majesty has already issued a royal decree announcing the next elections.
“There are going to be many people, who would think this was politically motivated; I can’t do anything about it,” the outgoing opposition leader said. “I chose today specifically to return the vehicle, because the cabinet is dissolving today, marking the full closure of the current government and I’d hope that they would also return their vehicles.”
According to the opposition party, the country cannot afford to set such an excessive precedent, particularly at a time when it’s going through an economic crisis.
On if the opposition party was cashing in for political mileage, Tshering Tobgay said the party did what is right and it has nothing to do with politics.
“We’re doing what’s right; we had a contract with the people of Bhutan, we served for five years and we were paid for that service,” he said. “We’re not trying to renegotiate towards the very end, and trying to squeeze as much for our personal gains.”
Former opposition party member and the party’s spokesperson, Damcho Dorji, said it would have been different, if the official vehicles were granted solely by His Majesty the king, because kidu, as per the Constitution, is the perogative of His Majesty only.
“Now to ask for kidu by the government, by the leader of the ruling party for kidu, I think, is morally wrong,” he said. “It’s going to set a very expensive precedent and, if this happens, then any government in future would go for the same, and which would put His Majesty in a very awkward position.”
The former opposition leader, Tshering Tobgay, said the party’s position would be the same if this had happened two years ago. “It just happens that it’s at the end of our term and we aren’t guided by any political mileage that we can get,” he said. “We’re hopeful that this precedent will create a lasting impression in the governance of a democratic Bhutan.”
Worth around Nu 2.5M, the Prados, according to the opposition party, are in excellent condition and can still serve the new leaders for the next five years.
“It’s my understanding that His Majesty the King was requested by no other than the prime minister to grant the official Land Cruiser and Prados, which is morally wrong and tends to set a precedent, which will eventually become a right,” PDP leader Tshering Tobgay said. “I strongly believe that it’s wrong for the elected leadership to submit a plea of kidu for personal gain, which is tantamount to total disrespect for the countless Bhutanese people, who struggle to meet their daily sustenance.”
A statement from the former ruling party, Druk Phuensum tshogpa, said they are deeply saddened by the fact that the soelra from His Majesty the King is being made an issue before the elections.
DPT said soelra is not new but an integral part of Bhutan’s culture, and that it is, in fact, a hallmark and symbolism of gratitude and appreciation that exists between the ruler and those serving him, a proud tradition that Bhutan has had for centuries.
“This is a deliberate, willful distraction that the people of Bhutan can’t afford at this juncture,” DPT’s statement said. “If the Opposition Leader has surrendered his soelra, so be it; the Opposition Leader may have his own reasons why he is not accepting His Majesty’s soelra.”
DPT said they are rather more worried that some people are stooping to the lowest common denominator to sow discord and bring about discontentment.
“The divulging of incomplete and un-finalised public documents has compromised the integrity of so many civil servants, and now it has not even spared the palace,” DPT said. “If indeed any information has come from a source from within the highest office in the land, it is deeply worrying that the security of His Majesty the King himself may have been compromised.”
By Sonam Pelden