Home ministry takes it slow

YEARENDER:

The female bird year saw several issues unfolding in the home and cultural affairs ministry, which the ministry was unable to resolve.

It started with few affected people questioning the caste system in practice. The issue has not been discussed much in public until last March when a 36-year-old man lodged a complaint with the Gelephu police, Samtenling gewog administration to the Gelephu drungkhag court and High Court.

The man also sought interventions from the National Council and National Assembly members.

The same month, the gewog administrative officers (GAOs) were taken aback when the Royal Civil Service Commission sent a circular stating that it does not recommend or encourage GAOs to leave their positions, as their role is critical.

Then, the small and medium hotel owners questioned the immigration circular mandating regional tourists to have an advance hotel booking to obtain a permit.

The circular, many hotel owners in Thimphu said, affected their businesses and that they were never consulted.

The government extended the term of the incumbent gaydrungs or gewog clerks until March 2019 although their term ended in 2016. The issue on gaydrungs arose after the Royal Civil Service Commission’s OD exercise pointed out that their posts were not required. No rules or laws cover the gaydrungs and even if they serve their entire life, their remuneration would not increase beyond Nu 13,000 excluding allowances.

Gaydrungs started serving in gewogs since the 1960s. They were exempted from customary labour contributions and were compensated. Their main duties then were to collect taxes and draft correspondences for gups. That changed over time, along with their benefits and salaries. According to the Department of Local Governance, there are 20 graduates working as gaydrungs.

In the east, Trashigang dzongkhag tshogdu proposed the Department of Culture to intervene and investigate the legitimacy of two coordinators of Drukyul karzay tshethar tshogpa, who were imposing as truelkus.

The two coordinators threatened to sue Kanglung gup Kinzang Dorji, the DT chairperson for defamation, claiming he defamed them in social media app WeChat.

The home ministry agreed to review the issue and sent officials to investigate it but has not yet shared the findings of the investigation.

In Lhuentse, eight residents of Kamdar chiwog sued the members of a household after they allegedly refused to participate in the community festival.

Two local leaders, Thimphu’s Chang gup Kanjur and Zhemgang’s Goshing gup Sangay Lethro came in conflict with law.

While the Department of Local Governance suspended the Chang gup after Office the Attorney General (OAG) charged the gup in Thimphu dzongkhag court for his alleged involvement in a state land encroachment case, Goshing gup’s case is still under review with the OAG. ACC detained the gup and investigated him for alleged embezzlement of about Nu 10.594 million (M) from public fund from 2011 to 2015.

Zhemgang was in the limelight after its DT resolved to make all its residents wear the national dress from 9am to 5pm in both town and villages.

The chairperson of the DT, who is also the Goshing gup Sangay Letho, said that the decision is taken according to the Local Government (LG) Act and the book on etiquettes to protect and preserve national identity, culture and tradition.

Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Gelephu man, who filed the caste case, is yet to hear from the HC and the Parliament members.

Tashi Dema

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