… while on a visit to Chukha dzongkhag

Politics: The Leader of the Opposition Party, (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho took advantage of the gathering of local leaders in Chukha to criticize government policies yesterday.

Talking to a packed hall of local leaders, dzongkhag officials and members of the public from Tsimasham, the opposition leader highlighted the sustainability of the central schools, rising east policy, the six-month maternity leave and unemployment.

Although the central schools are running at present, the opposition leader said, sustainability in the future holds strong doubts, even if it could run for another one to two years. “From where do we keep getting the finance?” he said.

He said people were not so deprived to the extent of not being able to send children to schools and buy them stationeries. “Operating central schools will draw huge expenditure, which is not healthy.”

On the rising east policy, he said the policy could create difference although he agreed that eastern Bhutan needs to develop.

(Dr) Pema Gyamtsho applauded the government’s success in implementing the six-month maternity leave for women in civil service, but said that the government must also focus on ways and means of helping women in private sector, including in the informal sector.

The opposition party’s primary concern, he said, was the need to replace a lot of women who will go on maternity leave, especially in sectors such as teaching and nursing. (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho also pointed out that it was important to note the repercussion it could have.

Talking on the democratic process, the opposition leader warned the gathering about the “gossip culture,” which he said was risky and could destroy harmony.

“Our democracy is not destructive like in other countries,” he said. “It has not happened so far. We should not start.”

A lot of people expect the opposition party to lock horns with the government every time, he said. “People should not undermine the country’s unique democratic system by always trying to bring the government and opposition against each other.”

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing