MB Subba

Members of National Assembly will get a special identification card to facilitate uninterrupted movement of members both within and when travelling out of the country.

The card will be used mainly when Parliament is not in session, according to the secretariat. It was learnt that the secretariat had already printed the cards and members were supposed to receive them at the pre-session plenary on May 29.

The secretariat had procured customised leather pouches for holding the Members’ ID Card. A standard operating procedure (SOP) for the use of the Members’ ID Card has also been developed.

However, the cards will be reprinted with changes after cabinet ministers, including the prime minister objected to the use of words on the cards that stated the MP would be given “uninterrupted passage”.

The secretariat also had proposed discontinuation of the use of tshogtag (parliament logo) with effect from the fourth session. But the plenary decided against the secretariat’s proposal and members will continue to use the tshogtag while the session is on.

Athang Thedtshog MP Kinley Wangchuk said members did not agree on discontinuation of the use of Tshogtag. “It keeps alive the tradition as it was there since the pre-democracy days and indicates that the session is active,” he said.

The House Committee will look into what changes are required in the member’s identification card.

Chairman of the House Committee, Dorji Wangdi, said that the design and wordings of the ID were printed after several rounds of discussions within the House Committee and with the National Assembly secretariat. 

He said the committee had come up with the ID card so that members would have appropriate rights and privileges as MPs.

According to some members, MPs are entitled for unhindered passage within Bhutan but that since MPs drive private numbered vehicles, they are often subjected to stoppage at check posts and gates like any ordinary people.

Not all the MPs use the parliament logo on their vehicles, as it is not mandatory. Some MPs say the logo on their cars is not given due recognition even if it is used.

On the prime minister’s objections on the word “uninterrupted passage,” an MP expressed his displeasure saying that the only thing members had asked for was objected. 

A member said that the cabinet had failed to understand MPs’ plight. They also said that the government had failed to provide individual offices for members.

According to the National Assembly secretariat, the tshogtag that members put on during the parliament sessions was introduced before the advent of democracy in Bhutan.

Before 2008, National Assembly members comprised chimis, business representatives, Zhung Dratshang and Rabdhey representatives, cabinet ministers, secretaries and dzongdags, the erstwhile Royal Advisory Council members and armed forced representatives.

Meanwhile, the winter session will resume today with social distancing rules.

Both the Houses of Parliament have enough space to hold sessions as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, according to which a distance of one metre should be maintained between two persons to prevent the spread of Covid-19.