Rinzin Wangchuk

The Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) legal division is validating whether the nomination of Tenzin Lekphel as the next Secretary General (SG) of BIMSTEC has contravened the provisions of the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011.

This follows a letter the National Council (NC) wrote expressing its concern over the government’s nomination while calling upon the government to urgently review the matter and rule out contravention of the specified sections or any other sections of the ACC Act before commencement of the next BIMSTEC Ministerial meeting.

The NC wrote to the Prime Minister and ACC after the foreign ministry’s response on the government’s nomination of Bhutan’s candidate to the post failed to convince the house of review. The NC’s good governance committee on September 12 had sought a clarification from the foreign ministry on the nomination and criteria for the appointment of the SG after the controversy on the issue.

While reviewing the matters, the NC noted that the Election Commission of Bhutan confirmed that Tenzin Lekphel is currently an active and a registered member of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT). 

“In view of his formal association/affiliation with the government through a political party, the NC is of the view that the nomination of his candidature could possibly contravene sections 54, 58 and 63 of the ACAB,” stated in the letter to the Prime Minister signed by NC Chairperson Tashi Dorji.

Sections 54, 58 and 63 of the ACC Act pertains to active trading in influence, commission amounting to abuse of functions and failure to declare conflict of interest.

The NC requested the ACC officiating chairperson to validate any contravention of the provisions and sections of the Act. An ACC official confirmed that the commission received a letter and directed its legal division to look into the legal provisions.

The letter also stated that section 7 of the National Council Act of Bhutan 2008 mandates the NC to ensure that the government safeguards the interests of the nation and fulfils the aspirations of the people through public review of policies and issues, Bills and other legislation, and scrutiny of State functions.

“Ensuring transparent and accountable governance is the key to the pursuit of Gross National Happiness and for fulfilling the people’s aspirations,” the letter stated. “Failure to do so will undermine the public trust and confidence in the institution and values of democracy.”

According to the foreign ministry, Bhutan’s nomination has been endorsed by the foreign secretaries of the member states during the 21st session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials Meeting on September 2 and the nomination has been submitted to the foreign ministers for their final approval.

As the current SG completes his term on September 20, the endorsement of the SG by the foreign ministers is expected to be received within a few days.