717 civil servants have put up their resignations to date since January 2017

The chairperson of the Royal Civil Service Commission, Dasho Karma Tshiteem said that no serving civil servant has been confirmed as political candidates of any parties although the parties may have identified and approached some civil servants.

“It only states that the political party has identified some civil servants as their candidate and approached them to join as possible candidate,” the chairperson said in an email interview. “Those civil servants who have been confirmed as political candidates, as announced in the media, have done so only after their resignation.”

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay who is also the party’s president said at the Meet the Press on April 27 that a number of senior civil servants, including the cabinet secretary, have agreed to join PDP as candidates. He said that those civil servants identified as candidates are at various stages of resignation process. However, the prime minister did not reveal the names of the civil servants.

Dasho Karma Tshiteem said the Civil Service Act of Bhutan (CSAB) 2010 and the Bhutan Civil Service Regulation (BCSR) 2018 clearly states that no civil servant can be a member of any political party.

“No civil servant can be a member, let alone declare their candidature,” he said, adding that these are all covered under Section 38 (a) of CSAB and Section (iii) of the BCSR.

Under the code of conduct, Section 38 (a) states that a civil servant shall not be eligible to be a candidate under the electoral laws of the kingdom or hold any paid or unpaid post in any political party, or canvass for the political party or any candidate in an election.

As per the BCSR, a civil servant shall not attend political party meetings and support or carry out any activities related to such parties, including use of social media to advertise contents pertaining to elections, political positions or in any way can be understood to be in support or against a candidate or party contesting elections.

“Further, if serving civil servants are found and proven to have become members or declared as candidates of any party, it shall be treated as serious violation,” the RCSC chairperson said. “They would be liable for compulsory retirement or termination and this would ensure the end of political careers, as compulsory retirement and termination would make them ineligible to contest an election.”

On how RCSC would make sure that civil servants remain apolitical, the chairperson, said that all civil servants are bound to be apolitical and would be held accountable if they violate these provisions.

He said that although no political parties have confirmed the names of civil servants as their candidates, RCSC has received and approved the resignation of some executives, since only the commission can accept the resignation of executives and specialists.

“None have cited joining politics as a reason for their resignation and in any case, all civil servants have the right to resign without giving reasons, as long as they’ve no outstanding obligation,” he said. “For other civil servants, agencies have the authority to accept resignations.”

A total of 717 civil servants have put up their resignations to date since January 2017.

Meanwhile, according to sources, the senior civil servants that are set to join PDP as candidates are cabinet secretary Kinzang Wangdi; director general of the department of local governance Lungten Dorji, Trongsa dzongdag Sonam Rinchen and director general of National Library, Dorji Norbu.

Other public servants tipped to be PDP candidates are Gelephu drungpa Sonam Tshering, Tashi Tobgay, KGUMS’s Chief of Division, Bhutan Power Corporation MD, Gem Tshering, City Bus Director, Sonam Dhendup and Yangchenphu High School Principal, Karma Dukpa.

Yangchen C Rinzin