For the past one week, a 58-year-old Wangdue resident had been running to the national referral hospital to meet a medical specialist.
Frail, dehydrated and desperate, he asked people and health officials around if the doctor would be coming to the hospital.
“But no one had an answer,” he said. “Even the health official in front of the doctor’s chamber didn’t know whether the doctor would come.”
The patient had to then seek the help of his relatives and refer him to the doctor.
He could finally meet the doctor after a cousin asked his friends in the hospital for help. “If not for their generous help, I would be still coming to the hospital and waiting for the doctor.”
He is not alone.
A corporate employee, Tshering, narrated how they had to ask help from their cousin, who is in hospital, to help after her uncle was also referred to a medical specialist.
“It is difficult if you don’t know anyone,” she said. “That shouldn’t be the case. If anyone in our family falls sick, they should go to hospital and receive treatment like all other people.”
Such experiences have forced many people to ask their friends and relatives to take them to a doctor whenever they fall ill.
The national referral hospital introduced a token system as a reformative measure, but the token for a week exhausts in a few hours and people have to use connections or links to get the services.
Similarly, people seeking service from the notary division of Thimphu dzongkhag said they wish there was a better service.
Although officials claim the G2C system accepts 100 applicants on a daily basis and they provide service, those availing of the service said court officials close the notary service by 11am.
A youth going overseas said she requested officials to notarise her documents as she has to submit them that day, but she was sent home. “But I saw people entering and bringing their documents even later.”
She said such a system disheartens youth. “We come here to seek service, but we are treated as if we are second-class citizens.”
A senior civil servant said she had to call her niece, who works in the judiciary to notarise her documents. “I feel bad for those who do not know anyone. I wish there is a better system in place where all of us, with or without connections could avail timely service.”
A corporate employee, Ugyen, said the system of using connections and links to avail service could be called thuenlam or ngosheb. “From hospital appointments to any other public services, those without link and connections have to do it the long way.”
He said it shows the flaws in the system. “When the layer of bureaucracy is thick, people tend to use connections.”
The prevalence of using thuenlam and ngosheb is rampant in the society that those availing services ensure someone they know knows a service provider or anyone in that office. Social media groups are flooded with messages of people asking if they know anyone in an office.
“All these people are seeking help so that they could have easy access to service,” a Thimphu resident, Pema, said. “This shows the need to have a system in place that guarantees equal rights and access to everyone.”
Meanwhile, the judiciary decided to send a lawyer and two bench clerks from the High Court to the notary office to expedite the notarisation process. Officials said that notarising documents is not the judiciary’s core mandate and they conducted several meetings with agencies to streamline the notarising process.
“Even the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee reflected about it, but nothing concrete came out of it,” an official said.
According to figures from the notary office, 986 couples obtained marriage certificates to date this year. In 2021, the office issued MCs to 1,412 couples. The office also attested documents for 1,714 individuals in 2021, and 1,893 as of June 2022.
The offfice provided notary services to 3,966 applicants last year and 4,352 so far this years.