OMA takes action against party supporters and candidates

BTP supporter Sangay warned for calling Kanglung-Samkhar-Udzorong PDP candidate, Norbu Wangchuk, a “Gunda” (Thug) and PDP Mongaar constituency candidate, Sonam Dendup fined for campaigning before campaign period, amongst others.

It has been a busy week for the Office of the Media Arbitrator (OMA) with complaints lodged by both the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and the OMA consecutively taking action for violating election laws. Apart from cautionary notices (warnings), people were also penalized with monetary fines.

A supporter of BTP, Sangay was issued a written warning for defamatory remarks and hate speech. He used the word “Gunda” meaning “Thug” against PDP’s Kanglung Samkhar Udzorong candidate, Norbu Wangchuk.

The OMA also issued a written warning to BTP supporter, Dechen Pelden for a defamatory remark and hate message against the North Thimphu candidate, Tshering. Dechen Pelden had accused the PDP of buying votes in the Primary Round election for the Fourth Parliamentary National Assembly.

A written warning and fine of Nu 15,000 was imposed on Tshewang for spreading false information, defaming and inciting regionalism. He is also a party supporter of BTP.

For spreading false information, and defamatory remarks directed to Thinley Wangchuk, PDP’s candidate for Bomdeling-Jamkhar, Tshering Choden was issued a written warning. She is a party supporter of BTP.

The OMA had also issued a written warning to Bumpa, for third-party advertising during the no-campaign period. Similarly, the OMA had taken action on BTP’s Dewathang-Gomdar candidate, Tshering Penjor. He was issued a written warning for campaigning during the campaign period.

The above comes close at the heels of PDP supporters and a candidate also penalized for violating election laws.

The OMA imposed a fine of Nu 15,000 on Chencho Dorji, the PDP’s coordinator from Paro, on December 15, for violating social media rules and regulations. Chencho Dorji shared a screen recording of various groups containing hate speech and defamatory remarks. This contravened Section 4.4 of the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) Social Media Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2018.

Meanwhile, PDP’s Mongar constituency candidate, Sonam Dendup was also fined Nu 37,500 for campaigning before the commencement of the campaign period. The fine was levied by the Mongar dzongkhag’s election dispute settlement body on December 18, 2023

A PDP member from Korphu gewog in Trongsa, Pema Khandu was also fined Nu 15,000 by Trongsa District Election Dispute Settlement Body on December 17 for violation of the Rules of Election Conduct in the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2022 on three counts.

He had violated election rules by sharing videos that contained the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) as the new party without any budget. He was also found stating that the BTP’s Draagteng-Langthil candidate has no experience and that the local deity would not be pleased if people did not vote for the PDP.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu