Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Right The Wrong
I write this letter as your constituent and as a concerned citizen. It was not too long ago when we were all more or less weighing the pros and cons of who we should elect as our members of parliament, and which party should we vote for to form what was to become the country’s first democratically elected government.
At the time, I’d lived abroad for a good number of years. But the historic year that was 2008 – the centennial celebrations and the coronation of His Majesty the King and the first ever democratic elections - a gift bestowed upon us from the throne, was such a milestone in our country’s history that there was no way I was going to miss it.
I made the winter of 2007 my penultimate year – in that I was going to come back home and partake in a momentous occasion that will forever remain embedded in the annals of this country’s history for all times to come.
It was a beautiful year. The coronation of His Majesty the King was the jewel on the crown, and the peaceful elections that ensued with a massive voter turnout was a sight to behold and a memory to savor.
I’m relating these events to chronicle what has been a learning curve- for citizens and the government alike.
The system is new and there will be a lot of room for adjustment. In the last couple of years we have learnt a lot in our transition to democracy. There have been good and bad things. Experience is the best teacher and there is no two ways about it. The controversies that surrounded the Tax Revision, the CDG and the State Funding for Political Parties were some of the prominent issues to come out of deliberations in parliament.
Today we are holding our seventh session of parliament. And to retract a little, the passage of the Tobacco Act perhaps eclipses all other issues. The Tax Revision issue brought forth the importance of the process of legislation and the supreme need to keep the constitution as sacred as possible.
But the fundamental difference between all of these issues, bills and acts has been that no other act has imprisoned people the way the Tobacco Act has done. I fear, Your Excellency that this act will prove far more detrimental to our close-knit society than any other in recent history.
The reason it is controversial is very simple. It imprisons people. As I write, there are four people who were regular law-abiding citizens who now find themselves criminalized. Real people are suffering Your Excellency, and such suffering is simply unwarranted and needless. There are other issues that are far more pertinent to the country and the people. Education tops the list, followed by other socioeconomic needs such as roads, electricity, healthcare, the youth, corruption, housing, water, and the list just goes on. And these are fundamental basic needs deserving of whatever solution or help is forthcoming. In that light, as your constituent, I urge you, as my representative, to act now and prevent the Tobacco Act from becoming a monster that will devour the very fabric that knits and keeps our society as one; mainly trust, confidence and faith. Once that bond is shaken,
Your Excellency, it will require blood and sweat to regain and renew the status quo.
The act has been in force for a couple of months and it is, in my view, the most important state of affairs. The Act must be amended and amended sensibly. There are a hundred and one other options in enforcing the Act but with fairness and justice, and with a good dosage of common sense. I still cannot fathom, for the life of me, how so many bright minds, like yourself, let this Act through without seeing how undesirable, divisive and cumbersome it would become.
To err is human, but to err and ignore rectifying the mistake is plain ignorance and arrogance that will cost people their lives, literally. We have become so de-sensitized by the sheer force of this Act that apart from the monk Sonam Tshering, the rest of them detained and sentenced under the Act have now become statistical figures. These are real people with real families. They are not numbers. Because if we cannot rectify this draconian law and set free those under detention and sentenced, we are effectively living in a police state, and that will eventually affect the wholesomeness of our society; including your own.
But there is still hope left, and my hope is that Your Excellency will now right this wrong, with the same zeal with which it was enacted.
With respect and in earnest,
Donamo, Horaykha Gewog,