Privy Council delegation calls Thai foreign minister
New Delhi, April 30, 2009: Recently nominated chairman of the Royal Privy Council Chenkyab Dorji along with three members of the council called on Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Wednesday.
The council delegation is currently in Thailand on a familiarization tour and seeking assistance to a royal project to protect Drukpa Kagyu sub-sect of Buddhism.
Speaking at the welcome function organized by Kasit, Dorji said in addition to familiarizing themselves with that kingdom, the Privy Council of Bhutan wished to learn more about the Privy Council of Thailand.
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit briefed them on the history of the Thai Privy Council and its role advising the king of Thailand for over a century. Both sides praised the excellent relations between the two kingdoms and their similarities as Buddhist and democratic constitutional monarchies that have never been colonized.
Dorij sought Thailand’s assistance for ‘Dharma Project’, an initiative by King Jigme Khesar, to help preserve religious statues and artifacts in Bhutan, particularly through Thailand’s support on technology and expertise in bronze casting.
In response, Kasit expressed Thailand’s support to the project and said that the relevant Thai authorities would be in touch with Bhutan. He also said that his country is interested in collaborating on herbal medicine, to which Dorji agreed.
Dorji, who retired as the secretary general of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), also had served as Bhutanese envoy to Thailand between 1999 and 2005.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, chenkyab dorji, jigme khesar, privy council of bhutan, privy council of thailand, SAARC, secretary general, thai foreign minister,thimphu on April 30, 2009 by Editor.
Labour woman died in hospital, victim claims medical negligence
Beldangi-II, April 29: Chali Maya Mishra, 28, of Beldangi-II camp, sector F/2, Hut number 92, died of repeated operations first at Damak-based hospital of Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA) Nepal followed by another operation at BP Koirala Memorial Hospital, Dharan.
The Project Director for Primary Heath Care for Bhutanese Refugees, Dr.Nirmal Rimal confirmed the death of Mishra at Dharan on April 27, a week after she was operated in AMDA-Hospital at Kharkhare.
According to her husband Khagendra, Chali Maya was admitted in AMDA-Hospital on April 21, and was rushed to Dharan the next day for another operation when she complained of continuous bleeding even hours after the operation.
According to the family source, Dr. Kishore Singh Shrestha was involved in the surgical operation.
The infant is medically healthy, said doctors at AMDA-Nepal.
Overview of AMDA Project in camp
• Started from January 2001 as an implementing partner of UNHCR.
• Responsible to mange and deliver the health and nutrition services to Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal.
• Services of PHCP are delivered from 7 PHCs in Seven refugee camps.
• Mechi Zonal Hospital, Bhadrapur & AMDA Hospital, Damak are being used as its primary referral centers.
• Drugs and other necessary treatments are provided free of cost to all the needy refugee patients.
“I was told by doctors at Dharan that my wife had little chance of survival”, lamented Khagendra adding, “The doctors suspected gross negligence in AMDA-Hospital.”
The fact is not confirmed, said Dr. Rimal. “We have formed an investigation team for the case.”
A five-member-team of medical experts has been formed today that comprises Dr. Rajendra Shrestha, Dr. Shyam Budathoki and Bishnu Mainali from AMDA Birtamod, and Dr. Bhampa Rai and Dr. Beda Nidhi Khatiwada from the Bhutanese community.
According to Kamal Niraula, Sector-D sector head and medical volunteer at Camp Management Committee of Beldangi-II camp, Padma Lal Mishra, the committee was announced in presence of Camp Supervisor from Refugee Coordination Unit of Beldangi-II Deepak Bahadur Niraula, Basanta Thapa from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR), Camp Secretary of Beldangi-II camp Naradmani Sanyashi, Armed Police Force Inspector Mahesh Bista and the officials from AMDA-Nepal.
We are very serious on this case since a young lady has lost her life, said Dr. Rimal. “We will investigate the case very seriously and find out what has gone wrong.”
“Chali Maya received regular follow-ups from our team, six times during her pregnancy,” Dr. Rimal told Bhutan News Service.
28-year-old Khagendra, who is just left with the baby, has appealed to the concerned authority including the UNHCR to independently probe into the matter and compensate for the loss.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged AMDA, AMDA-Nepal, apfanews, Association of Medical Doctors of Asia, Beldangi-II, Bhutan News Service, Camp Management Committee, Damak-based hospital, Dr. Nirmal. Dr. Shyam, Mahesh Bista on April 29, 2009 by Editor.
Remembering the past, venturing for future
A significant number of Bhutanese have been resettled in Louisville of Kentucky and a few in Lexington. The number is on the rise. After the process of resettlement gained new momentum, and the camp-dwellers finding no other good options to make a better living, have decided to make a journey to far-off lands where IOM takes them. Often, it is not their personal choice. Along the educated lot of new generation, came those elderly people at their proximal limit of ages. The elderly citizens have gone through many waxes and wanes in their lives. Some of them faintly remember the tides of time that have swept them though woeful and blissful moments of life. The following account is the glimpses of their past life and a tender hope for their future generations.
Bhanu Bhakta Pokhrel is now 67 years, resettled in Louisville two months ago. He with his wife live with their son and daughter in-law in an apartment rented for them by catholic charities. The Pokhrel family lived in Beldangi II extension camp for 17 odd years yearning to be repatriated. Their fourth son Bishnu, started in grade one at Marigold Academy in camp and have gone through bachelor’s second year, before departing to US. Bhanu Bhakta’s four of five sons are resettled in Louisville, expecting the fifth son to arrive in two months’ time.
The Pokhrel couple feels that 17 years in camp yielded nothing except for the education of their children and grand children. Health facilities provided in camp, of course, helped to control high maternal, children and infant death. But they say, it was undergoing gradual degradation.
Bhanu Bhakta was born in Gwang, Daragaon of Surey gewog of Bhutan. At the age of 18 he was forcefully recruited to police, and got training in Gelegphug and Sarbhang lasting for six months. In youthful days of Bhanu Bhakta, he saw some development taking place in his village. He participated in the development process like the construction of schools, roads and bridges, irrigation canals, basic health units as and when required. Bhanu Bakta went for the voluntary labor force in construction of Surey–Shemgang–Tongsa road and in the course of three months he worked in places like Chaple Deorali, Tabagaon, Manas, Dakpai. The government of Bhutan used to pay the laborers with a meager amount of Nu 2.50 equivalent to Indian currency and nothing extra logistic support. It was during such contribution of labor force, he lost one of his dear sons in Bumthang.
His first child was enrolled in public managed school in Gwang which was run by the sole effort of villagers to pay the teacher. Later he studied in Norbuling Primary school, few hours walk from present Gelephu.
Life was supposedly moving to a brighter side for Pokhrel family in Danabari, had there been no repressive acts by government casting spell on them. In 1990 the mass uprising in southern and central Bhutan, by no means, left the family untouched. It was the horrifying moment for Bhanu Bhakta when he faced nightly errands of police and army searched and raided his house, took his wife to police custody, and arrested the eldest of his son from a relative’s house while bathing.
As for all the people of Gelegphug, Bhanu Bhakta and his wife listened to the king in 1991 at a mass gathering, who appealed to the people not to leave the country in fear of persecution or subversion. But in the following months, it was hard for them to resist not leaving the country for no reason except their peaceful protest of government’s unjustifiable acts.
For Bhanu Bhakta, the government of Nepal did not play a fair game while engaging itself in unproductive bilateral process with the Bhutanese side. Instead of sending to overseas countries, Nepal could have provided citizenship rights to the Bhutanese and help integrate.
Tara Nidhi and Chandra Ghimirey, the couple in their 70s, live with their two younger sons Leela and Laxmi. Tara Nidhi was a small boy when he was taken to Bhutan by his family, that migrated from eastern hills of Nepal and settled in Pataley of Chirang district. He owned a sufficient area of crop land and orchard to make the family self sufficient. The family also owned a two storied concrete house in Damphu, an administrative center of Chirang district.
Tara participated in the development process of Bhutan in his early days. He worked as a voluntary laborer during construction of Phuntsholing-Thimphu highway at several places, one of the first highway constructed to connect interior Bhutan with the southern boarder and India. Besides, he participated in all the local development process like the construction of Damphu Junior High school, road from Chirang to Dagana district.
Tara Nidhi agrees that there was no direct form of coercion inflicted by the government to the family, but was denied the access to education, basic health and of course, the civil rights.
Though Tara Nidhi does not feel so much bad about coming to a new land at this age, he is little disturbed by the fact of improbability to continue the usual rituals of Hinduism to be followed after death. The cosmic life after death is determined by the ‘Karma’ accomplished in the physical life, according to the Hindu doctrines. However, the couple takes the satisfaction in wishing their children’s progress and a better life in the future.
Dikura Dhakal is 77 now. She came to Louisville in March 2009 along with her two grand children to join the rest of the family which settled here back in September 2008. Khudunabari, where she lived for 17 years, seemed like a home for her. She did not like to come to the way of her grand children’s decision to resettle in US, though it was not necessary for her. And it took almost seven months for her to join the family.
Dikura was born in Goshi block of Dagana district in 1932 and married at the age of seven. By the time she reached the age of 24, her husband was taken away to eternal path leaving behind her with two children below five and the other a growing fetus. Life was all a struggle for her, left alone by the destiny to fight all odds and stumbling blocks ahead. Separated from her in-laws at the tender age and turbulent times of being a widow, she made brave decisions to migrate to lower foothills, buy five acres of land at about three- thousand rupees and start a new life.
Dikura never got chance to learn read and write but has a good memory of many Sanskrit verses she heard from her husband and still reciting them with fluency. Though she was not asked to go for the labor force far away, she indeed participated in the local development of village, like carrying raw materials of construction, maintenance of feeder roads, irrigation channels etc.
Dikura had listened to many district officials who imposed their verbal decrees pretending them to be the order of king, but she understood little of them.
In the post 1990 period, the family was put into different categories of citizenship status by the census team. There was a ‘verbal law’ announced by the district administrators that people falling under F4 and F5 must pay an amount of Nu.4,000 to 5,000 annually if they continued to live in Bhutan. There was no school and basic health in the villages. Many villagers in Samrang decided to leave the country fearing even more repressive measures by the government. Dikura’s family was no exception, though she was categorized as F1 citizen.
Dikura has her elder son and a daughter left behind in Bhutan whom she likes to meet at least once a year. But that has become almost impossible for her age now. She wishes everything goes to correct path of progress for her grandchildren both in US and home country.
This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged apfanews, bedangi, bhutan, bhutan highways, bhutan labor laws, bhutan news, Bhutanese refugees, loberers in bhutan, phuntsholing, refugee resettlement,thinpphu on April 29, 2009 by Editor.
Is it time for Bhutan to join WTO?
Thimphu, April 29, 2009: The new elected government starts mulling over joining the World Trade Organization to benefit from the international trade.
Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA) submitted a report to the council of minister suggesting country must decide joining the world trade bench when conditions are friendly to the least developed countries created by the Doha round.
Before as well, the government and the experts expected that Bhutan could join the trade body by 2009. The new proposal also hinted at joining WTO by end this year or early next years if government takes it seriously.
The proposal said delaying accession process would turn the achievements made so far in that direction meaningless and that Bhutan’s image of a committed and serious negotiator would suffer.
The cabinet has asked suggestions from Centre for Bhutan Studies, led by Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley and the Gross National Happiness Commission before taking final decision.
The report claims there is no big loss or gain for Bhutan from joining WTO but it would promote good governance. Though the WTO sanctions high tariff on agricultural products, the report says that will not hamper the meager agriculture of the country.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, world trade, wto onApril 29, 2009 by Editor.
First Bhutanese consultation in Australia, BCA announced
Melbourne, April 28, 2009: The Bhutanese community resettled in two states of Victoria and New South Wales, Australia held their first consultation gathering at Mirambeena Community Centre, Albury on April 23.
Priests chanting mantras before at the inauguration of gathering.
The consultation saw senior Australian officers as participants including Stepan Kerkyasharian, Chairperson, Community Relations Commission (CRC), NSW, George Lekakis, Chairperson, Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) and Jose Alvarez, State Director, DIAC Victoria.
Representatives from more than 18 agencies at local, state, regional and federal government level, community organisations, educational institutions and services provider along with the Bhutanese community members also joined the consultation gathering.
Parsuram Sharma-Luital from Melbourne provided the brief history about Bhutan, the main cause of refugee origin – the 1985 Citizenship Act; census exercise of 1988, compulsory imposing of dress code (gho and Kira) followed by peaceful demonstration in Bhutan. The participants were also informed series of events after the demonstrations that led to the birth of refugees.
The community members raised issues as requiring a place to worship, desperate desire to follow culture, fears of being deported, citizenship related issues, education, employment and driving problems.
George Lekakis said the community issues will be discussed with the relevant government agencies to address as per the community’s need.
He further said that New and Emerging communities groups will be supported with full dedication by the VMC and government agencies, adding the government will not support financially to build the religious place but will assist to look for a place to practice cultural events and festivals in the community centres or similar places.
Stepan Kerkyasharian, Chairperson CRC said that people need not fear to follow their culture and traditions, and practices religion freely in Australia.
Jose Alvarez, State Director Victoria said that Australian government work closely with UNHCR to while considering resettling refugees in Australia. The priority will be given equally between the protracted refugees’ issues like Bhutanese refugees, and war and internal conflict created refugees in many countries.
He clarified people more then 60 years will automatically get the Australian citizenship after four years in Australia, while persons under 60 years have to sit for a simple test which will be further simplified from October this year.
On the occasion, the gathering of Bhutanese announced the formation of Bhutanese Community in Australia (BCA) and launched its first issue of newsletter “SPECTRUM – First Bhutanese Community Newsletter in Australia. Similarly, first Bhutanese website in Australia was launched: http://bhutanaus.atbhost.net. BCA also announced 11-member executive committee.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutanese community in australia, Bhutanese refugees, melbourne on April 28, 2009 by Editor.
Kuensel is daily now, but not exactly
Thimphu, April 28, 2009: On the even of international press freedom day, the government owned Kuensel started publishing as daily newspaper, the country’s second daily.
Kuensel is a daily newspaper now, but comes only six days a week
On April 28 issue, the government mouth piece wrote: This is the first issue of the Kuensel daily. Kuensel is evolving from the biweekly to a daily to cater to the growing needs of [our] readers for prompt and timely information.
However, the newspaper, as it says, is not exactly a daily newspaper since it takes weekend holiday on Sunday. It hits stands only between Monday and Saturday – six days a week.
The paper killed its Nepali (Lhotsampa) version and promoted 12-page English and Dzongkha editions combined in a single issue.
The paper will have an 18-page weekend edition on Saturday, which will include a ‘special magazine’ called K2 or Kuensel 2 – in full color – to meet the demands of the young readers. The magazine will replace its earlier City Bytes section. But the magazine will be available only in Thimphu, Paro, and Phuentsholing.
This entry was posted in Media Monitor and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan daily papers, bhutan news, bhutan newspapers, bhutan nmedia, kuensel, press freedom in Bhutan on April 28, 2009 byEditor.
PM roars again against corruption
Thimphu, April 28, 2009: Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley roars for zero tolerance on corruption, but the country continues to see the increasing instances of corruption and malpractices.
Prime Minister Jigmi Thiney
Pointing fingers at Anti Corruption Commission and Royal Audit Authority, he recently said, “I will not spare you at all even if they do.” But questions have been raised if he is actually acting so sternly on corruption.
He even said government will terminate those proven to have engaged in corruption business but hinted at giving excuse for those who were charged of corruption in the past. He blamed private sector for rising corruption just because previous governments failed to act tough.
His statement comes when the contractors in the country are opposing the new regulation promulgated by the government on contract business. The contracts have alleged the government of cutting their business.
For instance, a branch manager of the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) in Paro, Jigme Ugyen, pleaded guilty of issuing false receipt amounting to Nu 2.9 million and bargained for light punishment.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan corruption, bhutan news,bhutan politics, jigmi thinley, thimphu on April 28, 2009 by Editor.
Government announces e-governance
Thimphu, April 28, 2009: To promote e-governance, the Department of Information and Technology announced its plan to connect all government offices under common network to integrate the works of public administration.
The online system will link all departments and agency to its umbrella ministry such as every police station in the country with the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs.
The government claims, when the project starts this year and completes by end of tenth plan, applicants will get response or get their work done within a single day.
Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu will keep all records of patient’s medical history in a database that will be available to the relevant doctors.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews. bhutan, bhutan news, bhutan police, bhutan politics, egovernance on April 28, 2009 by Editor.
King appreciates army role in serving the nation
Thimphu, April 27, 2009: King Jigme Khesar said armed forces in the country have served the nation at all times in our history.
King JIgme Khesar
Gracing the raising day of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), Royal Bhutan Police and Royal Body Guard at the Tencholing Military Training Centre in Wangduephodrang, King Khesar said, “In times of peace, there have been threats to the lives and property of our people from floods, fires and other natural disasters.”
He added, “In such circumstances the people have looked to the army and the armed forces have served the people. When there were threats to nation’s security and sovereignty – for example in 2003 when we faced the greatest threat in our history – His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo led our armed forces and defended our very sovereignty.”
He further said, “Most people are not aware but even on a daily basis, as we speak our soldiers and officers are patrolling the most difficult parts of the country to ensure that there is no danger to our people and country.”
“All I can say is that as the world changes we will never know what difficulties we may encounter. We must at all times be strong and able soldiers physically and ready in our hearts and minds to defend our country and people with our lives. In doing our duty there is no room in our armed forces today and at any time, for weak officers and soldiers and for those who neglect their duties. There can be no indiscipline and complacency,” the king said.
King Khesar was accompanied by Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck and Princess Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck to the function, where he received the guard of honor from RBG, RBA and RBP.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, jigme khesar, royal bhutan army, royal bhutan police on April 27, 2009 by Editor.
Police release Subba
Damak, April 26: Damak-based Nepal Police released the chairperson of Human Rights Organsation of Bhutan, S.B. Subba yesterday evening.
Subba was released on condition that he would report to the security when required, the police Inspector Kamal Thapa informed Bhutan News Service.
Subba, who was arrested a couple of days back in connection with gunfire at Shanti Ram Nepal of Beldangi-I camp by an unidentified group, strongly denied Bhutan News Service to comment on his arrest.
This entry was posted in Main News on April 26, 2009 by Editor.
‘HOME’ exhibition concludes
Khudunabari, April 25, 2009: A four day photo exhibition named “HOME” based on resettled Bhutanese in the United States of America (USA) has concluded on April 24.
Almost 35 photos of two Bhutanese families resettled in New York City taken by New York based photographer and journalist Kashis Das Shrestha were displayed in the exhibition in seven camps. After the exhibition, exiled Bhutanese camp commented to bring more photos of resettled Bhutanese of individual camps next time.
Shrestha talking to APFAnews said that he would do further work on documentary and collecting the photos of resettled Bhutanese in the areas where resettlement programs being operated.
The exhibition started from April 20 was managed by photo.circle of Nepal and was organized by UNHCR.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, Bhutanese refugees,new york, photo exhibition, UNHCR on April 25, 2009 by Editor.
Police arrests S. B. Subba
Damak, April 25, 2009: Nepal Police arrested chairman of Human Rights Organization of Bhutan (HUROB) S. B. Subba on Friday afternoon on suspicion of his link in Belndagi I murder case.
Police Inspector Kamal Thapa at Thana Police Post Damak informed APFAnews that Subba has been arrested from Damak as part of investigation of the incident. ‘Interrogation with Subba is underway,” said Thapa.
Confirming the arrest, HUROB in a statement said Subba is kept under the custody of Damak Police post, Jhapa.
On April 21, a resident of Belgangi I Santi Ram Nepal was murdered by unknown gunmen. The police arrested six other exiled Bhutanese refugees in this connection.
HUROB said no one is allowed to meet them in custody.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, beldangi, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutanese refugee, human right bhutan, HUROB, Nepal Police, SB Subba on April 25, 2009 by Editor.
RCSC promotes 10 officials
Thimphu, April 23, 2009: The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) announced the promotion 10 senior government officials effective from July last year.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Sherub Gyeltshen and the Finance Secretary Lam Dorji have been promoted to Executive Level 1A while Secretary General of the National Council Tshewang Norbu and the Attorney General Rinzin Penjor have been promoted to Executive Level 1C.
Similarly, Director General of the Department of Culture Dorji Tshering and the Director General of the National Environment Commission Sonam Yanglay have been promoted to Executive Level 2A and Director of the National Housing Development Corporation Phuntsho Wangdi and the Executive Director of the Construction Development Board Wangdi Gyeltshen are promoted to Executive Level 3A.
Additionally, Executive Director of the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority Karma Dorji and the Executive Secretary of Phuenstholing City Corporation Kinzang Norbu are promoted to Executive Level 3A effective from this January.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan bureaucracy, bhutan news,RCSC, thimphu on April 23, 2009 by Editor.
Six arrested on murder charges, LAB claims responsibility
Beldnagi, April 23, 2009: Police has arrested six people from Beldangi I in connection to the murder of Shanti Ram Nepal, who was shot dead on Tuesday evening by some gunmen while he was coming out of toilet.
Those arrested on suspicion include Dolma Tamang, Sukmaya Tamang, Jung Bahadur Rai, Nar Bahadur Rai and Jari Lal Rai of the same camp. The sixth name is not available. Three Rais are brothers from same family.
According to information given by Pradip Rai, Sub-Inspector of Police, the killer had used very sophisticated and modern weapon to attack Nepal. Two bullets were fired at this armpit, one at back-neck and one on thigh. Police recovered three fired bullets on the ground along with two khukuris.
According to neighbors, the shooters fled towards nearby forest when people began to shout and gather.
Nepal had filed a written petition at UNHCR, camp management committee and police asking for security since he had been receiving threats from some unknown people. Police and CMC team had been regularly visiting his hut since a few months after which he had said he felt some relief.
The ever unknown Liberation Army of Bhutan has claimed responsibility for the murder. Posters thrown around the camp last night read he had been working as spy for Bhutanese and Indian authorities. It further alleged Nepal of being main culprit for bringing division in Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxists, Leninists, Maoists) and other political parties operating in exile.
He attempted to bring split in United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan as well but failed, the posters say, adding he collected huge sum of money from India in the name of Bhutanese political movement and misused. At the end, the armed group sought sorry for violating laws of Nepal.
Nepal’s last rites were performed at Kankai River on Wednesday.
This entry was posted in Main News on April 23, 2009 by Editor.
Rights body expresses serious concern
Damak, April 22: Human Rights Organization of Bhutan (HUROB) issuing a press statement today has expressed a serious concern over the arrest of innocent Bhutanese from camp in connection with gunfire at Shanti Ram Nepal.
We strongly condemn the murder of Nepal and the shooting was a ghastly action, said the HUROB release.
“Whatever may be the motive behind, it is a cowardly act and the law should punish the culprit.”
“It also came to our notice that those who are arrested are innocent just arrested on suspicion of past misunderstanding occurred sometimes ago especially with the said two girls”, said S.B. Subba, the chairperson of HUROB. “Those arrested are being tortured in the police custody.”
The rights body has requested the concern authorities to appropriately deal the case with due respecting individual human rights and pin the right culprit.
The Armed Police Force deployed in the camp yesterday arrested two young ladies and three boys in connection with Nepal’s murder.
Nepal is survived by his wife, four daughters and a son. The eldest daughter and her family have already been resettled in America.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged Beldangi-I, ghastly action, Human Rights Organization of Bhutan, HUROB, resettlement in America, SB Subba on April 22, 2009 by Editor.
One Year of Democracy and National Security
Walking down history lanes years later, the year 2008 will go down as a remarkable year for Bhutan. That year, a King was crowned and a Prime Minister was elected. There were also many worthy firsts in 2008 – first Constitution in the history of the kingdom, the first democratic elections based on adult franchise, first democratically elected government, first coronation of a king graced by a former king, first centenary of monarchy, the first resettlement of Bhutanese refugees abroad and also the first of a series of bomb blasts that threatens to leave Bhutan’s fragile democratic transition out in the cold by elements fighting for a ‘real democracy’. Overall, the year 2000 was a year of some hope and some missed opportunities.
It was hoped in the beginning, that the onset of democracy would be a panacea to some of Bhutan’s ills. There was this strategic possibility that the initial euphoria generated by democracy could be used as a conduit to hammer out unsettled matters and return to normalcy. With a little political will, and an honest resolve to turn the country back on track, the RGOB could have exploited that rare, perfect opportunity to reach out to the political parties in exile and begin the necessary ‘confidence building measures’. The platform of democracy could have been used to raise another platform – that of ‘national reconciliation’. It was important to seize this opportunity and save Bhutan from being swallowed up in the whirlpool of policy misadventures of the past and to start a fresh national reconstruction process. Unfortunately, for Bhutan, its rulers once again chose to deny that path and in the process missed that golden opportunity.
That the ushering of democracy should be met with an intensified fight for ‘real democracy’ is an interesting reality – a testimony to the fact, that elections can happen anywhere, but just holding elections is not democracy. Call it ‘election’ or ‘democracy’, in Bhutan, they mean nothing but an outward pretense; a regime’s clever attempt to blow off its totalitarian image.
If anything, the regime’s version of democracy is incomplete, half done and imperfect. It is neither representative, transformative nor inclusive. Rather, it is deceitful and aims to preserve the political status quo of the past. This democracy still curtails freedoms and excludes people from the ballot. Over a hundred thousand southern Bhutanese were disenfranchised in 2008 elections. Much worse, the fear of an imminent eviction looms large over a large section of the southern Bhutanese population, even today.
Royal Bhutan Army is the biggest force of the country
So, Bhutan’s largely neglected and suppressed southern Bhutanese population have a reason to believe that the ‘guided democracy’ masterminded by Bhutan’s fourth king is no tranquilizer to their problems. Bhutan still continues to catch hold of their ‘cultural knot’ in order to punish them and their kith and kins in the refugee camps. Even the political parties that contested the election, looking to the south as their ‘vote bank’ do not want to reckon the southern Bhutan problem. As for the exile parties, the regime simply refuses to acknowledge that such political entities even exist.
Bhutan’s naiveté and arrogance has pushed the opposition to a position of ‘no choice’ but to wage a violent struggle. And this paved the way for the emergence of the Maoist guerillas, which Bhutan lately admitted as its ‘biggest challenge’ and which will likely choke Bhutan’s security concerns domestically in the days to come.
Bhutan’s National Security Apparatus
Bhutan’s National Security apparatus consists of Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) and the Royal Bodyguards (RBG). Together they employ 14,209 personnel .
Royal Bhutan Army (RBA)
The RBA has traditionally been a small, conscript force, trained and armed by India. Regular recruits are trained at the Army Training Centre at Tenchholing, Wangdiphodrang District. Royal Bhutan Army cadets also attend the National Defence Academy at Pune and the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun, from where they are commissioned as second lieutenants.
During the 87th session of the National Assembly in June 2007, Chief of Bhutan’s standing army, Batoo Tshering confirmed that the total army strength was just 9,021 soldiers. He announced a plan to reduce army strength and raise militia forces. Whether his plan did materialize is hard to say because none of the 700 militia volunteers recruited earlier had remained active.
The army’s weapons inventory consists of AK-7 (AK-47 clone) , AK-104 (2001), INSAS rifle, Heckler & Koch G3, SLR Rifles, bayonets and machine guns supplied by India; some are obsolete. The only Infantry Support Weapon comes in the form an 81 mm mortar. RBA does not maintain a separate air force, and relies on the Indian Air Force for transportation, relief, and rescue operations. There is a Royal Bhutan Army Air Wing of approximately 80 personnel who operate Mi-8 helicopters and a Dornier transport aircraft.
Figures on defense expenditures are not publicly available and is counted within general administration costs. The army’s primary mission is to secure Bhutan’s national borders but lately it has been used more frequently to suppress or evict villagers in southern Bhutan.
The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP)
RBP employed 3,417 personnel in 2005. The standard police functions are law enforcement, to serve as guards at Bhutan gates throughout southern Bhutan and to act as first responders during any natural or fire calamities. The RBP is the main arm of the government in harassing the southern Bhutanese and leading to their ultimate eviction. RBP personnel have been known to target the democratic forces and engage in excessive, arbitrary treatment of these people.
Royal Body Guards (RBG)
The RBG is an elite VIP protection unit responsible for the security of the King and the members of Royal family. Some RBG cadres have received counter insurgency and jungle warfare training from the Indian College of Combat and the Indian Military Academy in Mizo Hills, India.
Bhutan has also embarked on ‘non-military security alternatives’ in the form of ‘Cultural Cohesion’. In other words, Buddhism, gho, kira and the Dzongkha language are the new elements of Bhutan’s security apparatus. Bhutan says ‘Cultural cohesion’ not ‘political integration’ is the need of the hour. According to Rakesh Chhetri, ‘Cultural cohesion’ is a totalitarian concept which also means ‘cohesion of opinions and views’ with the State. It was invented to underpin compliance and subservience to an archaic, feudal and undemocratic system’.
To read the report in detal, please visit our reports section.
This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan democracy, bhutan news,bhutan security, royal bhutan army, royal bhutan polce, royal body guard of bhutan, thimphu on April 22, 2009 by Editor.
One shot dead in Beldangi I (Breaking News)
Breaking News Beldangi-I, April 21: An unidentified gunman fired four rounds of bullets and killed Shanti Ram Nepal, 56, of Beldangi-I camp, B-2/155 around 8:45 PM today.
Both, the camp secretary TB Gurung and the camp-based Armed Police Force (APF) confirmed the casualty this evening.
“There is no security for refugees in camps”, said Gurung, who accompanied Nepal’s wife and daughter as they were rushed to AMDA-Hospital.
According to the hospital source they have lost their consciousness as they could not tolerate the shooting.
Our correspondent Arjun Pradhan reported that the APF arrested two girls from the same camp for investigation.
The dead body is kept at the APF camp in Beldangi-I.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged APFA-Bhutan, Arjun Pradhan, Beldangi-I, Bhutan News Service, Bhutannews, Shanti Ram Nepal, TB Gurung on April 21, 2009 by Editor.
Tenzing Zangpo rearrested, whereabouts unknown
Kakarvitta, April 21, 2009: General secretary of Druk National Congress (Democratic) Tenzing Zangpo has been rearrested by the Assam Police from Gauhati court premises soon after he was released on April 6.
He was earlier arrested on November 10 from Gauhati under section 121/12(A)/122/123/302/326/307 Indian penal Code read with Section ¾ of the Explosive Substance Act and Read with Section 10/13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
After the expiry of the 90 days in Gauhati central jail, he was granted bail by Subhabrata Datta, Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI Court) on March 20 after Tenzing deposited IRs 10,000.
But Tenzing continued to remain in jail because he was also show arrested in Despur under Section 121/121(A)/353/324/307 IPC read with the same acts. This case was registered on October 9 but Police diary show that Tenzing was arrested on December 29. In the second case, Tenzing was granted bail on expiry of 90 days in jail on March 31 by M. Deb, Additional chief judicial magistrate. His wife stood bailer at the court depositing IRs 10,000.
The court passed the release order on April 3 but Tenzing was not released on that day since the jail administration had received Bhutan Police representatives with the view to abduct him from jail.
Knowing the arrival of spies, Tenzing lawyers not to pressure for his release fearing that he would be forcefully abducted by the Bhutan police personnel where he would face extreme form of torture and punishment.
However, he was released by the jail administration on April 6 at around 5:30 pm but was rearrested from within the court premises by personnel of Assam and Bhutan police at around 5:35 pm. The police also tried to arrest Tenzing’s wife Karma Zangpo but was fortunately saved by other supporters.
Since then, whereabouts of Tenzing has not been known. It is feared he has been deported to Bhutan by the Assam administration.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews. bhutan news, assam police, bhutan, bhutan police, bhutan-india portation agreement, Bhutanese refugees, druk naitonal congress, violence in assam on April 21, 2009 by Editor.
Photo exhibition on resettled Bhutanese kicks off
Damak: A statement issued today by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that a photo exhibition titled Home on the Bhutanese citizens resettled in America started today at Beldangi II camp.
The exhibition by the UNHCR, managed by Photo Circle from Kathmandu, will exhibit photographs by Kashish Das Shrestha, a photographer and journalist based in New York.
With over 30 photos, the exhibition focuses on two families – the Odari and the Neopaney families – who arrived in New York in June last year.
According to Beldangi correspondent hundreds of exiled Bhutanese participated in the exhibition today with much excitement.
However, several those who witnessed the photographs commented that the displayed photos have revealed only the positive aspects of new life in the United States of America.
“This exhibition is part of our ongoing information dissemination strategy on durable solutions. These extraordinary photos, and commentary by Kashish Das Shrestha provide a moving insight into what life is like in a resettlement country for one young refugee couple and their families,” said Diane Goodman, UNHCR Deputy Representative in Nepal.
“The Neopaney and Odari families miss their friends in Nepal and hope that someday they can visit Bhutan. They are also excited and grateful for their new life in the USA,” said photographer Kashish Das Shrestha.
The exhibition to be held in all seven camps will be open to the public from 10:00 hrs to 16:00 hrs until April 24.
The UNHCR stated, “The agency continues to ensure that refugees are able to make voluntary, free and informed decision regarding solutions.”
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged beldangi, Kashish Das Shrestha, Nini Gurung, Odari,resettlement, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on April 20, 2009 by Editor.
Resettlement exceeds 12000
Kathmandu: A highly placed source at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that altogether 12,388 Bhutanese citizens have been resettled in various developed countries so far.
The statistics update from the UNHCR showed that until April 11 the United States of America has resettled 10,934 individuals under third country resettlement program.
Similarly, Australia has taken 675, New Zealand 220 and Demark 161. Likewise, 159 Bhutanese citizens have reached Norway, 148 in Canada and 91 in the Netherland.
“Until April 11, 66,747 have declared their interest for relocation”, said the UNHCR source.
This entry was posted in Main News on April 20, 2009 by Editor.
Bhutanese in Kentucky organized
Kentucky, April 20, 2009: Bhutanese who have been resettled in in Kentucky area has announced the formation of Bhutanese Society of Kentucky on April 11.
According to them, the society aims to help each other for preserving social and cultural values as a heritage of Bhutanese society. Seven representatives from each settlement locations were selected to draw complete structure and develop guidelines of operation of the society which met in Bardstown forest on April 17 to discuss over the appropriate ways of functioning and activities to conduct.
Jiwan Bista, Buddha Dhakal, Bishnu Pokhrel, Om Dhungel, Tika Adhikari and Goma Koirala held discussions to chalk out an appropriate structural frame work and guiding principles of the society.
The society targets to maintain a cohesive Bhutanese society in Kentucky while assisting to preserve and promote the cultural heritages based on religious and cultural freedom. It keeps the objective of developing a network of relationships among all Bhutanese settled in US, Australia, and Europe and also with other social organizations in US. An eleven-member ad-hoc executive committee is proposed and finalized to function at present.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutanese diaspora,Bhutanese refugees, bhutanese society in kentucky, kentucky on April 20, 2009 by Editor.
Bhutan EC team to lean election process in India
Kakarvitta, April 20, 2009: A five-member delegation from Bhutan will visit the Uttar Pradesh state in India to learn democratic electoral process, where elections are scheduled for Lok Sabha.
Headed by Election Commissioner Chogyal Rigdzin the team will study the case of the Allahabad parliamentary constituency. The team will reach Allahabad on April 21 and stay there till April 24. Allahabad holds polls on April 23.
India had invited Bhutanese election officials to observe state elections as well before Bhutan held its first parliamentary elections last year. India denies any foreign observer in its polls but invites Bhutanese officials to see polls not as observers but student to learn election system in democracy.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan elections, bhutan news,election commission of bhutan, india election, lok sabha, uppat pradesh elections on April 20, 2009 byEditor.
NA members get cash for ‘constituency development’
Thimphu, April 18, 2009: The National Council members seemed to be irked at the decision of the government to provide constituency development grant to the elected leaders of National Assembly.
The finance ministry had approved the grant on April 3, which had been the issue of hot debates in last session of parliament. The NC had forwarded the matter to King. The government had not informed the NC of the approval.
The government order issued for implementation of the fund mentions said that the Constituency Development Grant (CDG) Rules had been finalized and circulated for implementation by the members of the National Assembly (NA) and relevant agencies.
The rules further said that the projects will require to be endorsed by the concerned MP to ensure that they have control over the actual utilization of the grant, which is against the decision of the ruling DPT’s policy of decentralization where it empowers the local leaders to finalize local projects.
Now on government will have additional burden of Nu 2 million annually for distributing to NA members. The project will have to benefit a minimum of ten households, fund at least ten activities over a period of five years and be used by activities, not covered by normal budgets, like advancement of women and children, poverty alleviation, skills development, among others.
The order said the grant cannot be used for current expenditure, construction of gewog offices, purchase of vehicles, acquisition of buildings and land, contributions and supplement activities funded by the government.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhtan politics, bhutan, bhutan development,bhutan news, constituency development grant, ministry of finance, thimphu on April 18, 2009 by Editor.
Land price likely to skyrocket
Thimphu, April 18, 2009: The land price in Bhutan is certain to skyrocket with government, during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, increasing the compensation to land acquisition by almost 20 fold.
The new prices will come into effect from May 1. According to this one decimal of wetland in remote areas will cost Nu 1939, which was only Nu 350 to date.
The government has categorized land into three classes: A, B, C. One decimal of class A land, located within 2 km of municipal boundary will cost Nu 4,687 and the rate decreases as the distance increases from township.
The rates for agricultural land will be different for each of the 20 districts, considering the productivity, market value and distance from town area of the land.
The proposed average value for agricultural land in all dzongkhags, except Thimphu, is roughly Nu 5000-7000 for land within 2 km, Nu 3000-4000, within 6 km and Nu 2000-3000 beyond 6 km.
Similarly, 10 percent additional compensation will be given to land at half an hour walking distance from the highway or feeder road.
Land within 2 km in major town like Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Samtse and Damphu, rates are different. In Thimphu it will be Nu 31,415 per square foot, Nu 28,395 in Phuentsholing and Nu 11,599 in Gelephu. Centrally located land in Thimphu will be Nu 1,383.8 per square feet.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan land prices, bhutan news,bhutan politics, gaylegphug, gelephu, phuentsholing, real estate in bhutan, samchi, samtse, thimphu onApril 18, 2009 by Editor.
It is now gups demanding additional salary
Thimphu, April 17, 2009: After government employees, now it is turn for the local leaders like Gups, Mangmis and Tshogpas to demand salary increase, which is likely to add burden to the government.
The gups from across the country raised the issue with Ministry of Finance while discussing the budgetary issues in Thimphu. The government had recently increased the salary of the government employees by up to 60 percent, that even did not satisfy corporate sector. The corporate workers have been assured of additional 15 percent to their increased salary.
Not only salary, the gups also demanded for increase in allowances and other facilities. The government currently allocated Nu 50,000 per year for them as travel allowance. Filed visit expenses are not paid by the government. They further said salary they are receiving now is not sufficient considering the increase in their workload and responsibilities.
In addition to that, the Gups demanded budget to construct living quarters for the Geog Administrative Officers, increase the national wage rate, increase the budget for telephone and release the geog budget on time.
The gups spitted dissatisfaction for classifying their job: whether they are government employees or the elected leaders. By nature they are elected members, but not affiliated to any political groups.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhtan news, bhutan, bhutan politics, gusp,local government in bhutan, loical elections in bhutan, salary hike in bhtan, thimphu on April 17, 2009 byEditor.
Health gathering begins, telemedicine facility launched
Thimphu, April 17, 2009: The three-day annual national gathering of the doctors and medical staffs from across the country began in Thimphu on Thursday. Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley inaugurated the conference.
PM Thinley outlining the achievements that Bhutan has on health sectors also pointed out the challenges such as life style induced diseases. He said the changing demographic pattern with more aging population will demand more doctors and care givers and Bhutan is no exception.
Though health sector has been marked one of the poor service deliverer, Health Minister Zangley Drukpa said his ministry is working on finding new measure to improve service delivery.
Coinciding the conference, health ministry launched the SAARC and Rural Telemedicine Projects in national referral hospital, Thimphu, jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Thinley and the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Sudhir Vyas.
Through this, the hospital will be connected to the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research in India and doctors in Bhutan can seek advice from experts and specialists in India and reduce referrals outside the country. 15 district hospitals and Basic Health Units will be connected to this service inside the country.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhtan health, bhutan, bhutan news, jigmi thinley, Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, sudhir vyas on April 17, 2009 by Editor.
Nepalese leaders extend support for Bhutanese movement
Kathmandu, April 16, 2009: Releasing From Palace to Prision, a book written by human rights activist Tek Nath Rizal, the former prime minister of Nepal and president of Nepali Congress Girija Prasad Koirala stressed the party’s support towards the Bhutanese democratic struggle. “I have deeper sentiments with the Bhutanese issue”, said Koirala on Thursday in a program hosted by Oxford International Publication at Hotel Shangri-La in Kathmandu. “Until I live, I will have all forms of supports to the Bhutan’s democratic movement.”
He further said, he has talked with Bhutanese king and the prime minister several times for repatriation of exiled Bhutanese. “Though they responded positively, they never executed their words,” he said.
He highlighted the important role that India should play for repatriation of the exiled Bhutanese.
C. P. Gajurel, a central committee member of the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), who also heads the party’s foreign relation department, strongly criticized the resettlement process offered by the United States of America and other countries. “I have not understood how kind the Americans are to give citizenship to the Bhutanese who have never demanded for it”, said Gajurel.
Saying that India has role in solving this two decade long crisis, Gajurel said his party also failed to pick up the issue despite being in government leadership.However, Madav Kumar Nepal, the former general secretary of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist, Leninists) said that it makes no difference on the feeling towards democratization and human rights establishment in Bhutan even if all the exiled Bhutanese get relocated to third countries.
According to Nepal, no one can suppress the movement of the Bhutanese citizens, rather they become stronger and more potential in such countries.
This second book by Rizal features how the most trusted character of the fourth King Jigme Singye was forced to go to prison, where he received inhuman torture for a decade.
Speaking about the book, Rizal said that the book was a vivid example of how Nepali-speaking Bhutanese were treated by the regime in the past.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan democray, bhutan news,bhutan politics, C. P. Gajurel, Girija Prasad Koirala, lhotsampas, madhav kumar nepal, southern bhutan,Tek Nath Rizal on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
Basketball camp for resettled Bhutanese in Pittsburg
New York, April 16, 2009: Exiled Bhutanese resettled in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, played basketball match hoping that it would help them fit into their new homes.
Suyesh Acharya, who was born in Nepal and moved to the United States organized the clinic as part of his senior project in the hopes that basketball where people above 11 years participated.
“There’s two types of passes in basketball: chest pass and bounce pass,” said Acharya, 18, at Moon Area High School, demonstrating both as he led a basketball clinic Sunday morning at Wallace Park in Whitehall.
Acharya had moved to US 10 years ago.
“When we moved here 10 years ago from Thailand, I already knew how to play basketball and that helped me make friends,” he said.
There are now about 180 Bhutanese refugees in the Pittsburgh area, living in Green Tree, Whitehall and Castle Shannon, with as many as 1,000 expected to move to Pittsburgh in the next several years.
Bhagawat Phuyal, 15, was born in a refugee camp in Nepal and moved to Whitehall in June. Many days after he comes home from Baldwin High School, where he’s a freshman, he and other Bhutanese play soccer in the outfield of Wallace Park’s baseball diamond.
As part of the clinic, each participant got his own basketball and Bhutanese Basketball Camp T-shirt. As the day progressed, the grounds around the court filled with toddlers playing on a swing set and grandparents in traditional dress who wandered down from the Prospect Park apartments.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutanese, Bhutanese refugees, new york, Pennsylvania, pittsburgh, Prospect Park, resettlement, Wallace Park on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
Royal Democracy in Bhutan: Steps Ahead Against the Current
A year of democratic practices in Bhutan has brought numerous reforms and left almost no stones unturned to demystify the suspicion of throne-gifted democracy. To begin with, the election of 20 members for the upper house, later, five deputed by the monarch, formally lifted the ban on the word ‘democracy”. Then, the royal cabinet divided into three factions, two to lead political parties and the third to continue as interim government for the present and metamorphosis into a third party from the subsequent elections. The politically colored two parties PDP and DPT, came right to the people’s level seeking vote and support. The election commission, determined to act on big and small rule breaks, was overtly smart to generate enough power for itself.
The permitted parties fought less; in fact, they had nothing to prove superior over the other party. The manifestoes emerged as two copies prepared by a single drafter. Voters had the opulence of two sources for the same content. Both the manifestoes came from the Gross National Happiness Commission; institutionalize to praise the former monarch in a royal way. As a body has two eyes, two hands, two legs and one mouth, the royal decreed democracy had two parties, with different faces, leaders and supporters but one voice: Gross National Happiness (GNH). The winning or loosing depended not much on the political food of thought but on the buttered lips of candidates and their supporters.
In the name of education for democracy, people were taught to press buttons of voting machines and election speeches focused on the characteristics of a bad party. Election promises read out were from the draft of the up-coming five-year development plan, prepared by the cabinet in unison before the virtual split.
The first radical reform by the reincarnated government took in its infancy of democratic era was the hike in salary of the statesmen, with a big expectation that their action would be applauded, praised and sang for months and years, as it used be in their earlier epoch. The story ended the next day of the implementation, apparently signifying that the change has come.
A year of democratic era saw a rapid increase in the number of people seeking judicial interference. The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), a bespoke body to crucify the defaulters and corrupts, reached beyond capital to districts and development centers, mines and construction sites. The ACC’s role is not just bringing defaulters to the book of justice but also underscoring the judicial and legal loopholes that have existed for abuse.
On one hand, the problem of unemployment has soared up to an indestructible height. No large-scale enterprises are in plan to accommodate the fresh graduates and school dropouts. On the other hand, there is such a dearth of skilled human resources particularly of doctors, nurses, teachers and accountants that the government has no luxury of choice, either to hire workers from abroad or to close its eyes. This is the direct consequences of the erstwhile government’s faulty education system and its desperate attempt to hide the then existing problems.
Freedom of expression has expanded, at least in the parliament, however, since most of the elected parliamentarians are yet to free themselves from the trauma of the suppressed bureaucratic background they hail from, accustomed to stoop before senior- make the junior bow, are unable to utilize even the accessible freedom.
There is a sharp improvement in the quantity and the content of the print and online media. Unlike in the past when the reporter had to get news and consent from the related department heads, secretaries and ministers, the democratic era journalists have audaciously gone to villages, deprived areas, uncovered the truth and published the facts. As expected the Bhutanese media has taken a leap forward and are successful as the tower lights of democracy. Nevertheless, they are not free from threat and insecurity.
The government has availed timely balm of compensation to the victims of natural calamities. However, there is little doubt that any other party in the government would have done no less. While the government has no material proof to boast of achievement of pertinently observed development, it has been showing its presence. The runway for domestic air services are materialized, wires for electricity supply are extended to many villages, at least dozen or one sixth of the schools closed in the southern districts were resurrected and the issue of security clearance and no objection certificate (NOC) created turmoil in the parliament but sadly had a narrow escape. The government has the mandate for four more years to either bring in airplanes on the runway, supply current through the wires, let children become students in the deprived areas, and revoke the tribulations of NOC, or doze off the period and invite a bull-dozer in the next term.
The most soothing music in the ears of the cronies of the erstwhile autocrats is to hear the news of Bhutanese in exile resettling in the developed nations. For the time being, the problem seems closer to an end. However, will the government continue happy go lucky hiding the crimes against humanity of the erstwhile government forever, remains a question to the younger generation. The government to sanctify itself must form a commission to look into the problem termed by the former monarch as ‘ngolop uprising in the south’ bring the defaulters to the book of justice and free the innocent from the prolonged punishments. However, as most of the defaulters own supreme command in the government, it is not going to materialize at least in this term. Although the DPT government characterizes old stocks in new coop, there ought to be no dearth of revolutionary vision to meet the transition and take better advantage, as it houses and commands the best brains of the nation.
To read the report in detail, please visit our report section.
This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged apfanews, bhtan politics, bhutan, bhutan democracy,bhutan elections, bhutan news, DPT, gross national happiness, human rights in bhutan, jigmi thinley,PDP on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
State of ‘Democracy’ in Bhutan
The fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk decided to give “limited democracy” to Bhutanese people in the late 1990s when he realized that under the leadership of Rongthong Kunley Dorji the Sarchop community from the east had joined the democratic struggle which was until then confined in southern Bhutan, only among the Lhotsampa population. The first step for him was to give a written constitution and define new contours of Bhutanese politics.
He commissioned a 39-member Constitution Drafting Committee under the leadership of chief justice Sonam Tobgaye. Three Lhotsampa members were included in the drafting committee. After a long and arduous consultation the committee released the draft constitution on March 26, 2005 for discussion and debate among the government servants, the common people, and in the National Assembly. Initially, the draft constitution had 37 Articles covering a wide spectrum of political, social and security issues, including duties and responsibilities of Bhutanese citizen!
The constitution defines two-party political system. It delineates 47 constituencies for the National Assembly of Bhutan, which is considered the Lower House of Parliament. The National Council, which is considered equivalent to the Upper House, would have 25 members with one apolitical elected representative from each of the 20 dzongkhags and five nominated by the king. Only can a candidate with formal graduate level university degree contest election. Royal family members and practicing monks are barred from politics, including exercising their voting rights. The king and the members of royal family are entitled to annuities from the state.
At the time of adoption on July 18, 2008 the constitution had 35 Articles. The constitution has many shortcomings. The king could use ‘royal prerogatives’ to influence legislative, executive and judiciary power. Article 2 prohibits the legislative assemblies from amending the monarch’s constitutional power. Article 20(7) provides authority to the monarch to sack an elected prime minister or his cabinet. Article 10(8) provides space for the monarch to send messages to the legislative assemblies; Article 10(12) empowers the monarch to convene extraordinary sessions of the legislative assemblies; Article 11(1)(b) enables the monarch to nominate 20 percent of the total members in the National Council; and Article 13(10) and 13(11) creates opportunities for the monarch to block bills even if passed by both the National Assembly and the National Council.
The exiled political parties struggling for the establishment of inclusive democracy in Bhutan have dubbed it as the “King’s Constitution”. Indian Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh has credited the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk as the architect of the constitution and the polity in Bhutan. This remark came while addressing the joint session of the first so called elected parliament in Thimphu on May 17, 2008.
Bhutan did not have any political parties operating legally within the country until a year before the date of so called democratic election. Political events unfolded in Bhutan surprised everyone. The fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk abdicated the throne on December 9, 2006 in favor of his eldest son Jigme Khesar Namgayal Wangchuk. PDP, headed by Sangey Needup Dorji, maternal uncle of the present king, was founded on March 24, 2007. The party’s vision statement states that its goal is to transform Bhutan into a democratic polity as envisioned by the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
DPT, the party today in power, was established on July 25, 2007. This party is headed by the current Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley whose matrimonial relationship in the royal household is well known. Other lesser known political parties, namely APP and BPUP were formed but they were quickly dismantled and merged with DPT. The DPT claims to represent the common people as it is headed by a Sarchop, and its cadre is drawn cutting across the Bhutanese society. But in practice DPT is more royalist than PDP, allocating key portfolios of the party among the former, senior civil servants who were thick and thin with the formulation and implementation of racist policy of 1990s in Bhutan. The party’s stated goal is to realize the noble dream of the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk.
Both PDP and DPT entered the election trail that was first ever permitted in the Kingdom of Bhutan. The Indian Election Commission was invited to help Bhutan’s fledging Election Commission to conduct the first adult franchise election in all the 20 dzongkhags. The election was conducted in phases and no incidence of violence was reported.
Mock elections were held to teach people on how to cast ballots. Primary elections were held to eliminate minor parties or individuals contesting the election. The DPT swept the election winning 45 out of 47 seats in the National Assembly. The DPT had fielded nine Lhotsampa candidates in South Bhutan. All of them won the election capturing nearly 19 percent of the total seats in the National Assembly. The PDP too had fielded Lhotsampa candidates but none of them could secure a victory. In the National Council two candidates from the Lhotsampa community were elected: Justin Gurung from Tsirang Dzongkhag and Dr Mani Kumar Rai from Samtse Dzongkhag. The king did not nominate a Lhotsampa in the National Council.
It seems the whole election exercise was premeditated, orchestrated with regards to who should win, how many candidates would be fielded from the Lhotsampa community, and who among the Lhotsampas would get tickets for contesting the election. In the earlier National Assembly 16 seats were given to Lhotsmapa in the house of 151. In northern, eastern and central Bhutan one national assembly member represented one block whereas in southern Bhutan a representative represented four blocks at the minimum. In addition, Drukpa Khagyu church was allocated seat in the National Assembly. The same recognition was not there for Hindu religion to which the overwhelming majority of the Lhotsampa population belongs.
This constitution is definitely an improvement for the Lhotsampa community although it contains subtle mechanism to discriminate the Lhotsampa community in the delineation of the constituencies. For example, Gasa Dzongkhag had 1,743 registered voters in 2008 election but it got two constituencies for the National Assembly and one for National Council. Whereas Samtse Dzongkhag had 39,320 registered voters and it got four constituencies for the National Assembly and one for National Council. There is a clear distinction in seat delineation for South, East, West and Central Bhutan. In this election, roughly one candidate represented 10,000 voters in southern Bhutan, 6,000 voters in eastern Bhutan, 5,000 voters in western Bhutan and 4,000 voters in central Bhutan in the National Assembly. As per the government report, the total registered voters were 400,626 individuals; of which the south had 1185849 individuals, representing nearly 30 percent of the total eligible voters. Their representation in the National Assembly remained at 19 percent.
The new political dispensation seems to make effort to take the Lhotsampa population into confidence. The DPT has appointed Yanku Tshering as Sherpa Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Thakur Singh Powdyal as Minister of Education, and Nandalal Rai as Minister of Information and Communication. Earlier Om Pradhan was the only person who had reached the rank of a cabinet minister from the Lhotsampa community.
To read the report in detail, please visit our report section.
This entry was posted in News Analysis and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan demcracy, bhutan monarchs, bhutan news, bhutan politics, bhutan royals, jigme singye on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
One year of democracy
This is part of the series of reports that APFA brings out every years in its mission for democratization of the Bhutanese society. Polity has changed but many things remain to be addressed for strengthening the democracy and democratic culture. Government has the greater responsibility for sustaining of democracy while civil society organizations have responsibility to put critical reports on performances of the government and suggestions for future improvements. This report is one step ahead to that mission.
This entry was posted in Reports and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan human rights, bhutan news,bhutan politics, bhutan security, good governance in bhutan on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
Torrent, hailstorm damage crops
Phuentsholing, April 16, 2009: Following the marriage of a pair of frogs, Bhutan not only received rain but also hailstorm that damaged crops and vegetables in several places and blocked roadways.
The road between Rewan and Autsho in Lhuentse has been partially washed away at 12 various places by heavy rain recently. In one of the places, a boulder has fallen right in the middle of the road.
In Kanglung geog under Trashigang dzongkhag, a hailstorm damaged potato fields on April 11. More than 10 acres of potato fields in Yonphula and upper parts of Yonphu Pam belonging to 48 households were severely damaged.
In Nichula and Dorjiphu geogs under Dagana dzongkhag, hailstorm followed by torrents damaged maize crops planted in over 70 acres of land belonging to 14 households.
Besides maize, the torrent also damaged main cash crop, orange, in its flowering season.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan agriculture, bhutan farms,bhutan news, dagana, lhuentse, phuentsholing, trashigang on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
More hostel facility in Phuentsholing
Phuentsholing, April 16, 2009: To ease the stay of Bhutanese youths visiting Phuentsholing, Youth Development Fund has completed construction of a hotel, named Nazhoen Pelri, in the southern border town Phuentsholing on Wednesday.
It will offer shelter to youth who cannot afford safe lodging in the vicinity beside counseling services, leadership courses, and tutorials for student. It has a multipurpose hall, a conference hall and a restaurant.
Indian company Jaypee group sponsored the project with Nu 45 million. The group is also providing 20 scholarships every year since 2005 to Bhutanese students.
Inaugurating the hotel, Queen Mother and YDF president Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck awarded ‘Golden Youth of the Year’ to eight students.
The awards were given to students, who demonstrated outstanding achievements in academics, sports, artistic, leadership, cultural and social services.
The award receipents are:
Tshering Dhendup, Class VI, Samdrup Jonkhar MSS
Meghna Upreti, Class VI, Khuruthanng MSS
Phub Dorji, Class VIII, Yangchenphug HSS
Tsheyang Choden, Class VIII, Shari HSS
Tshewang Gyeltshen, Class X, Yangchenphug HSS
Nikey Subba, Class X, Khuruthang MSS
Dawa Gyeltshen, Class XII, Samtse HSS
Ugyen Lhamo, Class XII, Yangchenphug HSS
On the occasion the Queen Mother awarded coronation gold medal on behalf of the King to the chairman of the Jaypee group for their generous service to Bhutan.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutan royal, jaypee group, phuentsholing, wangchuk, yuth development fund on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
Newspaper rescued from being wrecked
Thimphu, April 16, 2009: After much speculation, the board of directors of the Bhutan Times, the first private newspaper of the country, has decided that Chief Executive Officer of the paper Tenzin Rigden will continue in the same position.
The directors, mostly the business entrepreneurs, were dissatisfied for ignorance of the paper for covering the business they are attached to. It had undermined the editorial independence of the paper.
Facing pressure from the board, Rigden had resigned as CEO. The dispute began when the management decided without consent from the board to increase the frequency of the paper from weekly to bi-weekly, terminating 15 employees and then closing the book publication wing.
The paper has around Nu 23-25 million in unpaid dues. About Nu 6-8 million of this was the result of the newspaper management investing in the citizen’s initiative for coronation and centenary celebrations (CICCC), of which the board members’ approval was also not sought. An investment close to Nu 3.5 million was also made in the publications but only about Nu 0.3 million worth of books were sold.
The board has now appointed Phub Zam of Yarkey group of companies to look after the business management area of the newspaper.
This entry was posted in Media Monitor and tagged apfanews, bhutan media, bhutan news, bhutan times, private media in bhutan, tenzon rigden, thimphu on April 16, 2009 by Editor.
Determining boss of geog
Thimphu, April 15, 2009: The debate is currently in table, who will hold the authority of decision at geog level – is it the gup or the geog administrative officer (GAO)? About 205 gups from around the country have converged in the capital to discuss and resolve the issue, determine the boss of the geog.
Gup is traditionally an elected representative while the GAO is a bureaucrat appointed by the government. Since GAO is a new practice in the country, sharing responsibilities has become difficult.
In democratic countries, final decision lay on people’s representatives while bureaucratic staffs carry out only the administrative works as decided by the elected body. Gups have demanded, they should be the boss, and the demand seems logical.
GAO has an important role to play where people elect uneducated gups, being the country dominated by landlords and uneducated people. The government appointed college graduates as GAO in 2007 to plan, manage and monitor local development programs.
The dispute came up after the planning hemler GHN Commission designated GAOs as Chief Executive Officer at gewog level despite the provision in Gewog Yargye Tshogchung (GYT) Act empowering gups with executive powers.
On the other hand, government wants gups to be chiefs. Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley, addressing the meeting, said gups are elected by the people and they’re most suitable to be the CEOs. The tussle is certain to remain at bemusement until the national assembly passes the Local Governments bill.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan news, bhutan politics, chief executive officer, geog, gnh, jigmi thinley, thimphu on April 15, 2009 by Editor.
Change: that’s what PM says always
Thimphu, April 13, 2009: Change, change and change. That’s what has been the popular chestnut for Prim Minister Jigmi Y Thinley since he entered politics as appointed minister for foreign affairs in 1998. The latest of this reverberation was heard during his address to the gathering of South Asian Management Forum in Thimphu.
Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley
When he met with a representative of Bhutanese Refugee Children Forum in Bankok in October 1998 during the regional conference on HIV/AIDS, Thinley had promised changed in the country or else resign from what he was doing – politics.
That was when he started talking about democracy and change. He has changed it finally but the changed benefited him, not those hooked during the absolute rule. This time, in addition to change, he voiced for sustainable change of democracy leaving lines for speculation if conspiracies have already begun to wedge out the budding democracy.
He said change for the sake of change, which Bhutan is now witnessing, is not desirable even as the whole world may change.
Management experts from the region during this bi-annual function discussed varieties of issued affecting the region such as democracy and governance, banking, business reforms, and management education.
The experts underlined the need to be cautious for protecting the South Asian economy from the global meltdown since the crisis has affected little here until this day.
Dr Gour Gobinda Goswami of Bangladesh said countries with free press have less corruption than those where the press was controlled, adding that freedom of press plays a considerable role in controlling corruption, irrespective of the level of economic development of a country, openness, democratic situation, etc.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan democracy, bhutan news,Bhutanese refugees, jigmi thinley, south asian management forum, thimphu on April 13, 2009 by Editor.
Tala handed over to DGPC
Thimphu, April 13, 2009: The existing biggest power project of the country Tala Hydropower Project, was officially handed over to Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC), a member company of the Druk Holding and Investment (DHI) on April 8.
The chairperson of the Tala project Economic Affairs Minister Khandu Wangchuk and its managing director R N Khazanchi jointly handed over the project to chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DHI Karma Yonten.
Began in 1997, the project having power station with six units was fully commissioned in 2007, but the first unit had commissioned in July 2006. The project was completed at the cost of over Nu 40, 000 million.
Tala is the biggest project in the country generating highest revenue for the government, which also help boost economic growth of the country at an unprecedented rate.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan hydropower, bhutan news,Druk Holding and Investment, khandu wangchuk, tala hydropower, thimphu on April 13, 2009 by Editor.
Samtse-Phuentsholing highway on progress
Phuentsholing, April 13, 2009: The first of the major infrastructure development in southern Bhutan since 1990, the officials of the Department of Roads hope to complete the road Samtse-Phuentsholing highway and the Samtse-Dorokha road on time.
The first width cutting of 50.56 km up to the suspension bridge at Phurbhay – a two-hour walking distance from Phuentsholing – has been completed.
Works on retaining walls and culverts are underway. Begun in February 2005, Samtse-Phuentsholing highway is expected to complete by 2012 wit total budget outlay of Nu 811 million.
About 12 km of track construction for the Halhaley-Dorokha has been completed since it began in February 2007. Halhaley is 25 km away from Samtse along the highway. The road section is expected to complete before this monsoon.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, development in bhutan, dorokha, phuentsholing, roads in bhutan, samtse, southern bhutan on April 13, 2009 by Editor.
DPT also claims to be financially weak
Thimphu, April 13, 2009: Amidst news that opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may extinct due to financial crunch, the ruling party Druk Phuensum Tshokpa (DPT) said it is also struggling to survive financially.
Despite having won 45 out of 47 National Assembly seats, the leaders during a gathering in capital April 11 claimed the party does not have adequate fund to run office in districts smoothly.
The membership increase is also not as expected though party had landslide victory in elections. The local party leaders called for additional funds to run their offices, even asking the Member of Parliament to support run party offices in their districts.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutan parties, bhutan politics, DPT, PDP, thimphu on April 13, 2009 by Editor.
Reporter’s Diary: One year in the USA
When I reached office of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), a wing of US CCB, one of the receiving agencies in Syracuse, NY, I was thrilled to see the hall full of people. I mean the resettled Bhutanese. There was a meeting to plan for establishing a community center. The Bhutanese community in Syracuse has been planning for a community center to carry out their own activities. Running their own ESL classes, meeting bi weekly to welcome the new arrivals, planning the future programs, exploring the ways to preserve cultural identity, and performing religious, social and cultural activities are some of the things to be carried out in the community center.
It takes me by surprise when I think that I have passed eleven months in Syracuse after getting resettled here. There was the time when one could only see a few resettled Bhutanese in the area. However, the story has a different aspect after 11 months when Syracuse alone has over 300 Bhutanese.
When Hari Bangaley, my case manager received my wife and me in the airport, I felt the warmth of the Nepali heart and his smile and greeting erased my tiredness then. However, these days the new comers are greeted by not less that five people. The Syracuse streets are usually covered by the Bhutanese people. Some are found walking to the groceries and some are walking to hospitals. Many of them are encountered on their ways to ESL classes. Some are seen walking to the Madina Halal, one of the three places where a goat meat is sold.
These days I see many people have been struggling to get employed. The educated people fill application online and visit employers in person while others have to rely on their job developers. Incredibly true, around twenty Bhutanese got employed in March which has eased the pain of both the exiled Bhutanese and the receiving agencies. I still remember those days when I filled dozens applications online and in person before I was hired by the Refugee Assistance Program (RAP). But I was called only at one place for an interview. I did not take the job of a cashier at Wegmans, a grocery store that offered me a part time job. I rejected the job not because I wanted a better one. The only reason was I wanted to work with my own folks. I love to work among the Bhutanese group. There are many Bhutanese who have a problem of English. I have always thought that no one should suffer in the third country if they do not have English good enough to communicate with the Americans. It was after four month that I started to work as a refugee interpreter. My difficult days started then when I had to walk everyday, from one hospital to the other, in the chilled weather, most of the time without eating lunch. I used to compare the days when I was in Kathmandu, working with a team of APFA-Bhutan and BNS, go to Nepal FM, record the program and come back home walking. Whenever I walked as a part of my job, I really missed Teju dai, Thakur bhai, Indraji, Bandu Vidya and off course Ichha. I usually have a picture in my mind–the picture of my friends, carrying a camera and a recorder, walking for hours, getting nothing but satisfaction. When I have no money, I think of Indraji and Bidhya, just wonder how they would manage the bucks to help all three things get going.
These days I have a full time job. My day usually starts at eight in the morning when I head towards my office RAP. RAP is the place that provides ESL classes to the refugees and also helps them get access to the health care system. Besides, Green Card Application procedures too are carried out here. Whenever I reach the office I become glad to see groups of people-both old and young-attending English classes. They really seem committed to learn English, one of the tough jobs that they have to carry out. In the USA, everything depends upon the knowledge of English. Every thing–from getting job to availing health facilities, getting in touch with the other refugees or exchanging culture, and eventually one may not get the US citizenship if she/he does not know reading and writing English. In fact, one should have at least a general knowledge of the history of the USA to be considered for the citizenship.
One of the sad things about the refugees is not to keep time. There is still far to go before they learn to be punctual. Everything is systemic here. Even if one has sufficient amount of money he cannot go to hospital to get examined or for any health evaluation. He needs to schedule an appointment ahead of time. As I am working as a Nationality Worker for the exiled Bhutanese whose number is growing, I have to look after their entire health related issues—scheduling their doctor’s appointment, taking them for immunization, and et al. Many of the people do not keep up their appointment. What’s next? They have to wait for another one month to get another date.
Despite the problems the refugees have been facing they seem to enjoy the new world. Because the days are getting warmer, people are found basking in the ground. Many of them visit the Laxmi Narayan Temple every week. It is the only one Hindu temple in the area. The elderly folks seem to be nostalgic every time they participate in the Puja.
To wrap up, Hari Bangaley is an interesting person. He cannot help himself without helping others. Whether it is helping the people apply for the Food stamp or Social Security, rushing them to emergency room or the grocery store, or welcoming the people at an airport–he is always there. People think they are blessed to have him as their case manager.
My work is similar to his–lot of tension and odd schedule. But when I think of my team of APFA-Bhutan and BNS and the work we have been doing for the benefit of people, I just forget everything but get contentment thinking that I am a lucky one whom the god has given a chance to serving my own countrymen somewhere far away from my own country.
This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutanese exiles,Bhutanese refugees, kazi gautam, resettlement, sucrause on April 13, 2009 by Editor.
Single NOC for all purposes, to be issued from Thimphu
Thimphu, April 11, 2009: Months have passed the government created ministerial sub-committee to look into the matters of No Objection Certificate (NOC) and census categorization. No substance has so far appeared.
While addressing over 100 media personnel in Thimphu on first anniversary of the first elected government into power, Home and Cultural Affairs Minister Minjur Dorji added one more assurance to the people on NOC.
He said works are underway to issue only one NOC that works for all purposes. Earlier, people especially the Lhotsampas, had to take several NOC documents on different subjects.
Separate NOC are issued to apply for jobs, go for training, process promotion in government job or enroll children in schools. New assurance from Thinley government is that from June or July, people will only have to process one security clearance certificate which can be used for all purposes.
Dorji said the procedure for getting such certificates will also be simplified and has been approved by the cabinet. However, the certificates will be issued only from Thimphu, which is against the principle of decentralization policy that Bhutan has announced to adopt.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan democracy, bhutan news,bhutan security, bhutan southern bhutan, lhotsampas, minjur dorji, NOC, thimphu on April 11, 2009 byEditor.
PM turns friendly to media, finally
Thimphu, April 11, 2009: In his first ‘meet the press’ while celebrating 100 days in power, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley was fierce against media saying they only criticized the government.
One year in power, at least the controlled democracy should have taught this leader how to behave with media. While talking to the same media person on first birthday of elected government, Thinley was better solemn and friendly to media.
He was no as fierce as earlier when journalists questioned him on several issues. He asserted commitment for transparency and accountability in governance and underlined the role of media in doing so.
He said the government respected the media and had in no way hindered them. “The government lets media do what they’re supposed to be doing. People need to know the truth, both good and bad,” he added.
PM Thinley also repeated his commitment to support budding media industry during his five year tenure in power and that the government will share with media as much information as possible.
He further said for democracy to grow, the media must grow, so that media stir the true feelings. More than 100 journalists attended the ‘meet the press’ function at the royal banquet hall in the capital.
This entry was posted in Media Monitor and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan democracy, bhutan news, bhutan politics, jigmi thinley, thimphu on April 11, 2009 by Editor.
UNHCR Nepal chief assures continued assistance
Beldangi, April 10, 2009: Chief of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nepal Daisy Dell has assured that she would leave no stone unturned in assisting exiled Bhutanese living in Nepal.
Talking to the exiled Bhutanese in the course of her observation tour in Beldangi II camp on Wednesday, she said the UNHCR would continue to assist exiled Bhutanese as it had been doing in the past.
Stating that the exiled Bhutanese have started to resettle in the third countries ever since the rehabilitation process began, Dell said, “You are free to choose your destiny and that of your children.”
She visited the fire victim in the camp and assured all possible support. On the occasion, the exiled Bhutanese asked her for continued assistance, registration of those Bhutanese who are left out and support the camp-village peace committee recently constituted to build relation between the two communities.
While inspecting a drinking water project that is being constructed in the refugee affected area with the assistance of the UNHCR, Dell also thanked the locals for their support to the exiled Bhutanese. UNHCR funded water supply project in Humse Dumse.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, Bhutanese refugees,daisy dell, Nepal, UNHCR on April 10, 2009 by Editor.
Moon Area senior offers friendship, hoops to refugees
It’s the kind of lesson that would usually be taught in an elementary school gym class, if not before.
“There’s two types of passes in basketball: chest pass and bounce pass,” said Suyesh Acharya, an 18-year-old senior at Moon Area High School, demonstrating both as he led a basketball clinic Sunday morning at Wallace Park in Whitehall.
As part of “Bhutanese Basketball Camp,” Mr. Acharya was instructing a group of boys and men ranging from age 11 to young adulthood.
All of them moved to the Pittsburgh area from refugee camps in Nepal, some as recently as a month ago.
Mr. Acharya, who was born in Nepal and moved to the U.S. by way of Thailand, organized the clinic as part of his senior project in the hopes that basketball would help the Bhutanese fit into their new homes.
“When we moved here 10 years ago from Thailand, I already knew how to play basketball and that helped me make friends,” he said.
There are now about 180 Bhutanese refugees in the Pittsburgh area, living in Whitehall, Castle Shannon and Green Tree, with as many as 1,000 expected to move to Pittsburgh in the next several years.
Just this week, another family arrived and two more families are expected later this month.
The refugees are members of a primarily Hindu Nepali ethnic group that lived in Bhutan for generations before fleeing in the early 1990s after the Bhutanese government instituted restrictive policies against them.
More than 100,000 such refugees live in seven United Nations refugee camps in Nepal, often surviving on sparse rations and without electricity and running water.
The United States has announced it will resettle 60,000 of the refugees, and Pittsburgh received its first families last spring.
Bhangawat Phuyal, 15, was born in a refugee camp in Nepal and moved to Whitehall in June.
Many days after he comes home from Baldwin High School, where he’s a freshman, he and other refugees play soccer in the outfield of Wallace Park’s baseball diamond.
Through soccer they’ve met Africans and Americans, he said. Even on the basketball court, the soccer influence is clear. Camp participants often scoop the balls up from the court with their feet rather than bending over, and one particularly new arrival first shot the ball toward the hoop with both arms over his head, in the style of a soccer throw-in.
With Mr. Acharya’s instructions in both English and Nepali, however, their movements started to look less awkward. He taught them to dribble — first walking with the ball and then running — and showed them proper shooting form, supporting the ball with one hand and guiding it with the other.
As part of the clinic, each participant got his own basketball and “Bhutanese Basketball Camp” T-shirt. As the day progressed, the grounds around the court filled with toddlers playing on a swingset and grandparents in traditional dress who wandered down from the Prospect Park apartments.
“He helps us,” said 19-year-old Chitra Gautam midway through the clinic. “It’s getting easier to dribble and to hit the target.”
Though Mr. Gautam’s absolute favorite sport is table tennis, the Keystone Oaks High School senior is more than willing to give basketball a chance.
“In U.S., lots of people are very popular in sports,” he said. “I hope sports gets us more friends.”
Anya Sostek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1308.
(Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thursday, April 09, 2009)
This entry was posted in News Analysis and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, Bhutanese refugees, pittsburg, resettlemetn of bhutanese refugees on April 9, 2009 by Editor.
New economic policy in the offing
Thimphu, April 09, 2009: The new economy policy devised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs has give more teeth for additional area in foreign direct investment, to which Bhutan had remained closed for decades.
The new policy has provisions for incentives such as tax concession, to attract foreign investments. The FDI Policy 2009 is likely to be more liberal than the one brought in 2002, which was a little restrictive for foreign investors. The government has already approved 13 projects under FDI but only four are actively operating – two hotels, a security service company and a fat manufacturing company.
The policy will spell out the different agencies to keep track of inflow of hard currency, employment generated and immigration issues. The ministry officials express hope that the new policy will encourage private sector and foreigners for more investment.
The foreigners are given more liberty to invest in service industry such as information technology, health, and education though hydropower will be a major area.
The draft policy has been submitted to the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and will be forwarded to cabinet for approval shortly.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhtan economic policy, bhutan, bhutan hydropower, bhutan news, foreign direct investment in bhutan, gross national happiness on April 9, 2009 by Editor.
Domestic cement market expands
Gelephu, April 09, 2009: The export of Bhutanese cement to India began to dwindle as demand in internal market grows. The Penden Cement Authority plans to reduce the export by more than 15 percent.
The domestic demand has swelled up only due to the construction of hydropower plants, which are likely to go unprecedented in the next few years when Bhutan begins to build 10 mega power plants.
There is also real estate growing, which consumes big amount of cement.
Bhutanese cement is mostly consumed in Sikkim, Assam and West Bengal with quarterly demand of about 60,000 to 70,000 MT each. 60 percent of the production in Bhutan is supplied to these states.
In January, the demand was only 8,354 MT. Last year, of the total production of about 108,000 MT, 26,000 MT was sold from January to March. Bhutan produces three kinds of cement – Portland slag cement, Pozzolana Portland slag cement and ordinary Portland cement.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan export, bhutan news,cement, pandent cement on April 9, 2009 by Editor.
Training for the managers
Thimphu, April 09, 2009: Bhutan Management Development Consultancy (BMDC) in collaboration with Ministry of Labor and Human Resources has begun 10-day training in Bumthang to 25 private sector and corporate managers to improve their management capabilities.
The participants will be taught several modules and strategies that will help implement plans and evaluate their effectiveness. They will learn skills on how to take timely interventions and provide corrective measures in the event the project deviates from the original plans and avoid risks.
Organizers said priorities will be given to projects and programs as interventions for development with the aim to bring about desirable changes. Case studies from a variety of projects will be presented for better understanding.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutan private sector,ministry of labor and human resources, thimphu on April 9, 2009 by Editor.
Streamlining service delivery from government agencies
Thimphu, April 09, 2009: With suggestions form the World Bank to lessen duplication of services, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) division under Department of Industry is set to test Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) as a pilot project.
World Bank said the network of ministries and agencies with regulatory and control functions in Bhutan is complex and regulators have responsibilities that are often defined vaguely and overlapping.
The RIA will help decrease high costs on formal businesses and informality caused by so many regulations in the country. It is expected to enhance productivity as well. Regulatory burden is one of the key constraints to growth, employment and competitiveness.
Bhutan also has inconsistency in the application of rules and regulations. RIA will avoid enacting laws and regulations that duplicate and overlap.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, Regulatory Impact Analysis, world bank on April 9, 2009 by Editor.
A boy killed in road accident
Gelephu, April 09, 2009: A young boy has been killed and two other seriously injured in a road accident at Bhur of Sarpang April 5. Driver has been charged under Penal Code for the accident.
Police in Gelephu has confirmed the accident and mentioned that the driver failed to inform and surrender to the police after the accident.
The driver, Dhanapati Adhikari of Kilkhorthang, was arrested from Chokhorling and is now in police custody. He was one his way to Tsirang when the accident took place. Adhakari is an employee with Royal Insurance Corporation.
The deceased Sujan Subba was from Assam in India and had come across the border to graze cattle. His friend Kul Rewaj Basnet of Bhur Primary School, injured in the accident in serious condition.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, bhutan police,gelephu, killed, road accident on April 9, 2009 by Editor.
Australian Bhutanese donate for Beldangi fire victims
Melbourne, April 08, 2009: The recently resettled Bhutanese in Australia, with support from the local communities in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia with backing by local newspaper Bordermail, have launched drive to generate some donation for Beldangi II fire victims.
According to information given by Parsuram Luitel, they have already collected around AUS$3000 and are waiting few more organization and well wishers to deposit their donation.
Nepalese organizations and business in Melbourne has been very keen to support and raise the money. Some of them are Gurkhas Institute of Technology, Gurkhas Restaurant, Help Nepal Network, NAFA, Yeti Soccer clubs and Melbourne Chautari and Nepalese Association of Victoria.
Local TAFE institute has taken a challenge to match up the donation of AUS$620 collected earlier by resettled Bhutanese there for Victorian Bushfire victims and send the similar amount to Bendalgi II fire victims.
Hema Adhikari from Albury says students shed tears and cried in her class when she explained the situation at Beldangi and very soon filled the donation box. The money will be sent to Nepal before Easter break.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, australia, beldangi fire, bhutan, bhutan news,bhutanese, new south wales, victoria on April 8, 2009 by Editor.
Time frame to reduce administrative burden
Thimphu, April 08, 2009: Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley on April 7 has directed all 63 public agencies of the country to complete the mission of reducing the administrative burden within the next one year.
Ministry secretaries, who would be responsible to implement the project, are asked to pick three best persons on each ministry to assist them in carrying out the task. PM thinly will take monthly briefing from the secretaries about the progress.
Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) has been asked to take the lead role and coordinate the activities of the multi-sectoral task force (MSTF). The team will also identify areas that can be outsourced so that the civil service remains small, compact and efficient.
Steps will be taken to maximize the use o information technology to provide one-stop window services, whereby people need not have to run several departments to do a work.
The secretaries were advised to refer to the Good Governance Plus document and the recommendation of cost cutting measures proposed by pay commission.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged administrative burden, apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news,jigmi thinley, thimphu on April 8, 2009 by Editor.
ACC has week teeth, corruption goes increasing
Thimphu, April 06, 2009: Though the ruling party DPT repeats its commitment to zero tolerance to corruption and Anti Corruption Commission envisions a corruption free state, instances of state fund embezzlement continue to surface.
Very recently, the district court of Mongar gave its verdict slapping former Silambi gup to an imprisonment term of three years four months for official misconduct, embezzlement and forgery.
The court verdict says, Wangdi Tshering made fabricated master roll for water supply project in villages and submitted it to the district administration for payment, whereby he was paid Nu 279,990. Later he refunded Nu 56,000 to the district finance section. The court also ordered the gup to refund the remaining balance of Nu.173990 to the government. The gup is also accused for forging the signature of a geog accountant in a hand receipt.
A report released by ACC shortly after this verdict says corruption leads to handsome benefits with low risk and cost to the person involved in the deed. The report underlined the urgent need for laws to be amended so that corruption is deterred.
It said the government administrative system, especially the financial and contract management system, was flawed, which made it very corruption-prone; and general tolerance of people to corruption, combined with weak accountability and transparency mechanism in the government.
ACC has demanded stronger provisions in ACC act 2006 by giving it more teeth to act against corrupt. Additionally, it has also demanded amendment of the Bhutan Penal Code with regard to stringent penalties to be given to persons involved in corruption.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged anti corruption commission, apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, corruptin in bhutan, corruption, thimphu on April 6, 2009 by Editor.
Election commission to treat all media equally in polls
Thimphu, April 04, 2009: The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) said it would not treat Bhutanese media – private and public – differently during the upcoming local elections.
According to chief election commissioner Kunzang Wangdi, unlike during the general elections last year, all media would be treated equally. Earlier, some media were given access while others were deprived from covering all events of the election process.
Bhutan Broadcasting Service TV was given privileged access during the counting of votes of the parliament polls while other reporters received the news through verbal statements given by the EC officials.
Despite that, the BBS TV and Radio did not cover the election well compared to other newspapers and news agencies. The EC also seemed not happy with how BBS covered the polls.
However, Bhutanese journalists will find more restrictions covering elections in the future with ECB drafting new rules for them. If the new draft is enforced, it would regulate the time limit for media visiting polling stations. Journalists will be allowed in the polling station for around five minutes.
The journalists will not be entertained to interview voters in the booth area. Reporters wanting to do so will do it from a distance of at least 100 m from the polling station.
Additionally, the commission will restrict any media organizations to conduct opinion or exit polls before the election results are declared.
This entry was posted in Media Monitor and tagged apfanews, bhtan electins, bhtan election commission, bhtan politics, bhutan, bhutan democracy, bhutan media, bhutan news, kunzang wangdion April 4, 2009 by Editor.
Dorjis capture BCCI again
Thimphu, April 03, 2009: The highest business organization of the country Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) elected Topgyal Dorji of Tashi Group of Companies as the new president.
Former Speaker of National Assembly, Ugyen Dorji leaves BCCI after serving for 18 years
The annual general meeting of BCCI that began in Thimphu on Thursday also elected Chen Chen Dorji and Thinley Palden Dorji as vice presidents. Chen Chen is runs a private IT company while Thinley Palden owns manufacturing and mining business.
Topgyal Dorji succeeds Ugyen Dorji who served as the BCCI president for over 18 years.
Over 50 representatives of business communities from across the country will draw strategies for partnership with government, approve budget for new fiscal year and policy to adopt with the changed political circumstance.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, BCCI, bhtan news, bhutan, bhutan business,bhutan chamber of commerce, tashi group of companies, topgyal dorji, ugyen dorji on April 3, 2009 byEditor.
Corporations blame government for loosing experienced employees
Thimphu, April 03, 2009: Following the announcement by government for voluntary retirement for old bureaucrats, tussles have begun to surface between the government and the bureaucracy.
The corporations say they have lost most efficient and trained employees while incompetent and unskilled continue to defy the government scheme. The competent employees are leaving job for better facilities in private sectors.
The government announcement to pay 15 percent more government employees in other agency did not attract the experienced workers to work with corporations.
The management of Bhutan Development Finance Corporation, Food Corporation of Bhutan and Bhutan Broadcasting Service said they cannot get competent people because of the long working hours and comparatively low salary. Jobs in other government agencies are preferred because of job security, prestige, social position, and opportunities besides several perks and privileges.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan broadcasting Service, bhutan business, Bhutan Development Finance Corporation, bhutan news, corporations, Food Corporation of Bhutan, thimphu on April 3, 2009 by Editor.
Second large group reaches Netherlands
Hague, April 03, 2009: The second large group of exiled Bhutanese getting resettled overseas arrived here in the Netherlands on March 31.
TB Gurung and DP Mainali were there to receive them with tulip flowers in the Dutch way.
‘I feel as if I am in Kathmandu’ said PS Gurung, who was there with almost all of his family members including those who arrived in the Netherlands years earlier. ‘The feeling of unity with love and care for each other made our travel very enjoyable’ he said.
The entire groups of 31 people were then brought to a transition centre in Amersfoort. They were greeted by the first group of Lhosthampas who arrived a month earlier. The weather was sunny and all of them felt as though they are in the camps in Jhapa, where they lived for 18 years hoping to return to their home in Bhutan.
The Bhutanese refugee’s who could arrive in The Netherlands are in advantage in sustenance. During the transition period they are well paid, maintained and educated to integrate in the Dutch society. They will also be given family loan to maintain their homes besides social security. In addition, they may not need to pay their travel cost like those who opts for America.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, Bhutanese refugees,netherlands, resettlement on April 3, 2009 by Editor.
TCC plans decompose manure from waste
Thimpu, April 03, 2009: The Thimphu City Corporation has floated its plan to turn disposed wastes in Sarbithang to decompose and turn it into manure for farmer’s use.
According to the corporation, 40 percent of the wastes produced by the city can be decomposed. Officials said they are looking for contractors who can distribute the manure produced to market.
The equipments and other decomposers had arrived in 2005 but due to absence of electricity supply, works were delayed.
The capital city currently produces over 40 tons of wastes everyday and it has been the most difficult job for the officials to manage. Fears are high that increase mismanagement of waste could invite diseases, even epidemic, to capital.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhtan news, bhutan, thimphu, waste in thimphu on April 3, 2009 by Editor.
Bhutan invites Christian teachers
Kathmandu, April 02, 2009: Bhutan, which restricted preaching religions other than Hinduism and Buddhism and punished many Christians in the past, has now sought support from a Christian group to enhance educational standards.
According to a Christian news group MNonline.org, country’s Education Minister has asked the mission of Bibles of the World to provide at least 500 teachers to teach English, Mathematics and Science.
Though constitution guarantees right to religion, Christians still feel some pressure because of their faith and choose to worship in secret. The number of Christians in the country remains under one percent, and evangelism is forbidden.
While Bibles for the World founders Ro and Mawii Pudaite visited Bhutan with a few others, they were able to meet with several officials including Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley, King Jigme Khesar in February end when king was celebrating his birthday.
“The Education Minister asked if we could provide at least 500 teachers for Bhutan, specifically to teach English, mathematics and science,” said Mawii Pudaite. “We would like to send as many as we can–well-seasoned men and women who will live out their faith.”
Bhutan in last few years has been facing acute shortage of teachers.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged bhutan, bhutan education, bhutan schools, bhutan teching, bibles of hte world, christianity in bhutan, religious rights on April 2, 2009 by Editor.
Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway closed
Phuentsholing, April 02, 2009: The Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway remained closed for third consecutive day due to the landslide cause by heavy rain on Tuesday night.
The landslide had swept away the Takti Bridge, de-linking Thimphu with Phuentsholing. Works for restoration of the highway is underway and officials involved in reconstruction have not given any timeline for completion of the work.
The landslide had killed few people including an assistant driver of a truck, local officer of the DANTAK stationed at the bridge. The dead bodies have not been recovered.
According to government records, this highway experienced over 230 accidents in 2008 alone.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged apfanews, bhutan, bhutan news, highway in bhutan,landslides in bhutan, phuentsholing, road accidents in bhutan, thimphu on April 2, 2009 by Editor.
Je Khempo in S Jongkhar
Gelephu, April 02, 2009: The religious institution chief Je Khempo reached Samdrup Jonkhar in his mission to expand Buddhism in southern Bhutan as well.
He will visit Samdup Choling Dungkhag and offer prayer to lhakhang constructed in Deothang.
He had earlier visited Panbang Dungkhag enroute south-eastern district Samdrup Jongkhar.
This entry was posted in Main News and tagged bhutan, bhutan buddhism, je khempo on April 2, 2009by Editor.