For a Clean Democracy

For a Clean Democracy

In the first press conference with the Bhutanese media after successfully registering with the election commission of Bhutan (ECB), Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) said that from the many principles that the party is anchored on, it will be a party that will be clean.

When asked what the party means by clean, President of the party, Dasho Pema Chewang said it means “clean in thought, conduct and action.” According to the President, this is important, for a country of Bhutan’s size and nature cannot afford “negative campaigning and mudslinging.” “I am not saying that other parties are doing this or have done this. But as a party that has come at the cusp of a historic transformation, it becomes our moral duty to set a standard and that is what we will do,” the President explained.

Dasho added that BTP from the day of inception was clear on this aspect. “Our candidates are those with integrity and honesty. Integrity is doing something right every time, even when you know that there is no one watching you and this is the road BTP will take,” Dasho said, adding that the face of the party is the candidates. “Therefore, the party is not only looking for qualification and experiences of the candidates but for candidates who are morally right,” he said.

The President also said that as politicians, the party members and candidates have to be thick skinned. “Even if there are unfounded accusations thrown on us, we will not retaliate. This is compassion too and the spring of everything good, including compassion is being clean,” Dasho said, underlining the importance of being clean.

Reiterating that the party is not saying that Bhutanese politics is “dirty,” Dasho said that even if it is not so today, the future is uncertain. “Thus, BTP also wants to pave a road for future political parties and convey the message that a country like Bhutan cannot afford to engage in dirty politics.”

When questioned about the party being a “Sharchop” party, the President underlined that there is no place for regionalism. He said that the fact that there are 47 candidates from different parts of the country stands testament to the fact that BTP is a national and broad-based party. Further, BTP has vice presidents from the South and the West. “Yes. I am from Kanglung and so a Sharchop. My colleagues Vice Presidents (VP) Dasho Ritu Raj Chhetri and Pema Tenzin are from Samtse and Chukha, respectively and thus a Lhotsampa and Ngalop. But we are Bhutanese first.” As a party whose President is from the East, “people can say that the President of BTP is a Sharchop; but not the party as a whole,” BTP’s President said.

One of the Party’s core members, Rinchen Wangdi further clarified that the party stands for regional balance and that being clean is at the core of the party. “We have a very clean President.  Dasho Pema Chewang is an outstanding citizen with more than 30 years of experience and whose integrity cannot be questioned. And so are all of us,” he said.

While the party did not answer to all questions such as manifesto and others due to restrictions from the ECB, when questioned about the number of parties contesting, Dasho Pema Chewang said “more the merrier.” He said that people need choices. 

On challenges, such as getting supporters, the president said that there has been no problems in getting supporters and shared an anecdote of a senior citizen from Nganglam in Pemagatshel, who called him right after he had heard that Dasho is forming a new party. “People are coming forward to support the party,” he said.  However, Dasho Pema Chewang said that mobilizing party fund is a challenge.

The Bhutanese media was informed that the party has principally all 47candidates with a mixture of highly capable and competent candidates from a wide range of educational background, experience and age. The party will soon begin to declare the candidates.

The party’s tagline, “Your Voice, Your Hope” emphasizes on freedom of expression and responsibilities to ensure social justice and human security by putting people at the center of the development. A press release from the party says that BTP is running to bring about the much needed change in the lives of people by creating a robust national economy with particular focus on household income. 

The press conference began with the cutting of a cake by the Party’s President and the President of the Journalists Association of Bhutan (JAB). Dasho Pema Chewang said that this symbolized the party’s belief and recognition of the important role the media plays in conveying accurate information to the people and in the overall development of the country. In another symbolic gesture, Dasho Pema Chewang offered a slice of the cake to a child. “This is embodiment of the party’s faith and belief in the youth of Bhutan, our future and the important that BTP places on them,” Dasho said.

Meanwhile, the party will begin its familiarization tour after receiving the blessings of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel from the sacred Machen of Punakha Dzong on January 13, 2023. Business Bhutan learned that some of the candidates will be declared today (January 14, 2023). On January 30, 2023, the party will host its National Convention at Thimphu.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu