Saturday, May 28, 2011
Remember I Said it First! (A Factional MP Speaks)
This is your MP speaking. First up, I’d like to take this opportunity in the space provided here to illustrate how remorseful I am. You see, I’d never passed laws before, much less think about them and enact them. It was all too much and I buckled under the pressure.
My intention was never to harm anybody – the way I saw it, if I couldn’t provide the goodies, I wouldn’t ever imagine turning anyone into baddies. But being an MP is not as easy as it sounds or looks. The dress-up and the make-up itself take a lot of time. I’m telling you, keeping up the realistic façade is so laborious sometimes you just want to do something special, you know, to keep it real.
That was when this Tobacco Control Act started doing the political rounds. The way they pitched it to me, it was an offer that couldn’t be refused. They convinced me it was foolproof. The merits were these: reelection and recognition. And the deed itself was a noble gem that the people of this country would not only appreciate but be very grateful about.
They said that the people of all the dzongkhags, the gewogs and all of the chiwogs were in favor of it. That in the land of Guru Rinpoche, it would be received like a Jinlap.
Hence when it was time to vote the bill, just like all of my colleagues, barring one or two fools, I punched the YEA button.
And then that monk got nabbed! So ominous! Like Guru Rinpoche himself was sending in a divine symbol. We thought it was an act destined to be. I mean, what were the chances of a monk becoming the poster boy of the Tobacco Act? Little did I know that following the monk, others would be caught, detained and sentenced. They told us how the severity of the punishment itself would be enough to deter people from trying anything.
They said the reasons were just so tasty. It was a prevention of health hazards (forget the booze, they insisted), and the kind of boost the country would receive in terms of adoring foreign audiences would be just the tip of the iceberg.
But aren’t my fellow citizens just plain stubborn? I mean, how could people bring in tobacco when they knew the risks involved? And what were the judges thinking? Granting them bail, giving them hope and then bang! Slamming the full sentence! The matter was not helped at all when the Speaker opened the floor on the subject during the second day’s morning session.
But wait, what about the ITC’s report? Didn’t that prove we were in the right? Okay. Many of my colleagues have now turned around. Suddenly there is panic in the air. There is a feeling of having done something really stupid. On hindsight, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba was right when he said laws have to be enacted taking into account the full consequences of such an introduction. Hey, for that matter, even the Opposition was right. They did say it was Draconian (now I know the meaning of the word. It’s not good is all I can say), and that there were several other effective and alternative measures that would have done the job without the headache of jailing people.
To confess, I never did imagine people would still smoke and chew, and that the police would be burdened, together with all other law enforcement agencies.
It’s not on the parliament’s agenda so what do we do? Wait for that so called year of inactivity before an amendment can be made? What if someone from my constituency gets jailed? Boy! that will ruin any chance I might have for a possible reelection.
This is a major disaster. And now that we know it’s a major disaster everyone’s playing innocent and throwing life savers such as crime incommensurate with punishment.
I know what I am going to do – instead of the lip service thrown around so generously, I’m going to visit my constituency and seek forgiveness. I’m going to tell my colleagues who had me convinced that I’m naming names and intentions behind this act that might get me jailed too! (Did I tell you I do the Baba?) This is one stinking sinking ship I am ratting out. Please listen, my brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, I am sorry and I was wrong. Now I’ll do everything I can as an honorable MP to make absolutely certain that those caught, detained and jailed without bail for three years and more are free, as they should be.
I also admit we just created a law that is suddenly turning people into criminals, denying them their fundamental rights, and in some ways, using them as experimental guinea pigs to gauge the effectiveness of the law. Now I see that the law is stupid.
But please remember I said it first!