Pra­dos and Prin­ci­ples

Business Bhutan - - Editorial -

Flash­back pre-2013: The Op­po­si­tion makes a hue and cry over ex­pen­sive Pra­dos pro­cured by the erst­while rul­ing gov­ern­ment, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa.

The two-mem­ber op­po­si­tion of Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party, which goes on to win a land­slide vic­tory in the sec­ond gen­eral elec­tions, brands it­self as a party that will live within means.

The op­po­si­tion’s pro­posed aus­ter­ity mea­sures gar­ners mileage and sup­port and at the cli­max of the whole de­bate, the Op­po­si­tion Leader hands over his Prado say­ing his “con­science” won’t al­low it.

Fast for­ward to 2016: We have the rul­ing gov­ern­ment that once op­posed the “Prado-pock­et­ing” do­ing a volte-face. Re­cently, the Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment were mum when ques­tioned about the Pra­dos the gov­ern­ment was procur­ing for them this time round.

It is a dif­fer­ent story that later, the Prime Min­is­ter an­nounced that the cab­i­net min­is­ters would not be keep­ing the Pra­dos but what then was the ra­tio­nale be­hind procur­ing the Pra­dos in the first place?

The gov­ern­ment has tried to give us an ex­pla­na­tion: that the econ­omy is do­ing much bet­ter than in the past. But that does not seem a good enough rea­son.

Bhutan might have im­proved in terms of eco­nomic growth, but what we are talk­ing here is prin­ci­ples. In a coun­try, where the poor­est seg­ments of so­ci­ety barely have enough to eat and spare, does an elite and priv­i­leged mi­nor­ity have the right to de­pend on lux­ury ve­hi­cles, which they once spurred?

An av­er­age civil ser­vant would take years to pay off a loan on a Prado. MPs are sup­posed to be serv­ing the peo­ple who voted for them, and they owe the na­tion their loy­alty and re­spon­si­bil­ity. They are al­ready draw­ing sub­stan­tial salaries and ben­e­fits. They should not be treat­ing the gov­ern­ment cof­fer like a milk­ing cow.

The rich-poor dis­par­ity in the coun­try is also widen­ing and un­bri­dled hu­man greed is some­thing we should muz­zle.

Bhutan needs ser­vant-lead­er­ship as His Majesty has al­ways ex­tolled the virtue. We need lead­ers who can serve. That is the best way to lead. Sim­ple, hum­ble lives free of ex­ces­sive su­per­fi­cial­ity are ex­am­ples that hold orig­i­nal lessons.

Our gov­ern­ment needs to live within means. Bhutan is a donor de­pen­dent coun­try, still. True lead­ers will rec­og­nize this truth and strive to sim­plify their lives. They will make sure they walk the talk. They won’t be power or wealth hun­gry.

And this can be­gin with a step like say­ing “No”. No to Pra­dos (over which one does not have right­ful own­er­ship). No to power abuse. No to ac­cu­mu­lat­ing and hoard­ing. No to hypocrisy. No to show, frills and fan­cies.

At the end, gov­ern­ments will change. Meth­ods, too. But prin­ci­ples will stand.

The gov­ern­ment has an op­por­tu­nity to set a prece­dent. Some might politi­cize it yet again. But re­main­ing true to the spirit of ser­vant-lead­er­ship, not to be la­beled great, but be­cause you owe the coun­try that voted for you, and all those who trust in you is a nec­es­sary step ev­ery au­then­ti­cally good gov­ern­ment will and should do. For now, stick to your prin­ci­ples.

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