Questioning about the recent Bhutan Broadcasting Service’s coverage on water shortage in Trashiyangtse, Boomdeling-Jamkhar MP Dupthob asked the minister of Information and Communications why the interviewees’ identity was not disclosed.

Duptho said that the faces of the interviewees were blurred and their voices changed when the issue they raised was simply shortage of water.

“Was it because the people feared retribution from government? Or they do not have the right to speak about their problem?” asked Dupthob. “We’re all citizens with equal rights.”

Lyonpo D N Dhungyel said that their identity was concealed not because of fear of retribution, but because the BBS did it as per their code of ethics.

He added that in any interview the identity of the interviewee is not revealed if the interviewee wishes not to reveal his or her identity. “And journalists have to respect that.”

Cultural monuments

Although persons guilty of choeten vandalism are imprisoned for life, choeten vandalism cases have been on the rise. This either indicates that the people do not fear the law, or they are not aware of the law.

Drametse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi asked home minister if the law enforcing agencies are failing to implement the provisions of the law and their mandate: “What are the measures taken?”

Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen said that the law enforcing agencies are strictly following the Penal Code. “At present there are 128 people serving prison term for vandalism.” The minister also said that of the 9,602 choetens in the country, 6,000 choetens have been renovated.

“Various measures have been put in place. CCTV cameras and burglary alarms in the important lhakhangs have been installed,” said Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen. “Installation costs about Nu 100,000, which is expensive, and some of the choetens are located in remote places and there is no advantage installing such appliances.  If the communities can install CCTV on such important cultural and religious monuments, it would be better.”

Government has proposed that each lhakhang should have a caretaker with a possibility of providing them some incentives.

Yangchen C Rinzin