Dasho Dr Sonam Kinga counter-charges DPT

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Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga sub­mit­ted his counter-charges against com­plaint lodged by Druk Phuen­sum Tshogpa (DPT) with Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB) yesterday af­ter re­main­ing si­lent for some time on his Au­gust 31 post on Face­book about the 2008 elec­tions and sum­mary of his forth­com­ing book `Po­lit­i­cal Con­tests as Moral Bat­tles’.

DPT had lodged a com­plaint against Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga with ECB ti­tled `Deroga­tory post by Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga dur­ing the elec­tion pe­riod af­ter re­peated no­ti­fi­ca­tion from ECB’. The com­plaint states that the post vi­o­lates the elec­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tion and reg­u­la­tion and it con­tains story with pre­sum­able in­ten­tion to de­mo­nize the party.

In his 15 pages sub­mis­sion, Dasho

men­tions that the post does not vi­o­late the re­peated elec­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tion as it was made be­fore the no­ti­fi­ca­tion in the me­dia which the me­dia ar­bi­tra­tor has not taken this fac­tor into con­sid­er­a­tion when sub­mit­ting its find­ing and con­clu­sions to the Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner.

He men­tioned that the post is a sum­mary of the book and has been made based on con­crete ev­i­dences, de­vel­op­ments and in­for­ma­tion avail­able in pub­licly ac­ces­si­bly spa­ces or modes. He ar­gued that the post does not dis­cuss any­thing that is new or un­known to Bhutanese peo­ple. The in­for­ma­tion, anal­y­sis and per­spec­tives have been on­line and should be of no sur­prise to any­one.

“Hence, to deem the post as de­fam­ing or de­mo­niz­ing is un­war­ranted. In fact, the de­mo­niza­tion of the DPT be­gan years ago by it­self and sub­se­quently by peo­ple in so­cial me­dia when the video clip of its 19 July 2013 went vi­ral,” Dasho wrote in his sub­mis­sion.

Dasho men­tioned that DPT’s com­plaint vi­o­lates his fun­da­men­tal right to free­dom of speech, opin­ion and ex­pres­sion, which is en­force­able in a court of law. “This is at the heart of a vi­brant democ­racy. Un­less re­strained by Sec­tions a-f of Ar­ti­cle 7.22 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, the ex­er­cise of this right can­not be confined or lim­ited to cer­tain sea­sons or events,” Dasho wrote.

Con­trary to DPT’s al­le­ga­tion that his post on Face­book is a hate mes­sage, he men­tions: “I re­veal in my book as well as the sum­mary DPT’s hate mes­sage and bla­tant dis­re­gard for the cher­ished in­sti­tu­tion of the Monar­chy and the per­son of His Majesty the King. To write in or­der to ex­pose treason, dis­re­gard of Monar­chy and chal­leng­ing royal pre­rog­a­tives is not only up­hold­ing my fun­da­men­tal right to act in aid of law, it is pri­or­i­tiz­ing the sym­bol of unity over par­ti­san pol­i­tics. The me­dia ar­bi­tra­tor over­looked this very im­por­tant point.”

DPT com­plained how his post re­duced its elec­toral chances. The ev­i­dence it pro­vided in the hear­ing are less sub­stan­tive, more as­sump­tive and ap­pre­hen­sive. As ECB spon­sored de­bates, per­mit can­di­dates and par­ties to press ar­gu­ments, de­fend track records and crit­i­cize po­si­tions or poli­cies, they do so to max­i­mize their chances and min­i­mize other chances. This is at the heart of healthy elec­toral pol­i­tics. “Sim­i­lar dis­course per­me­ates all lev­els of so­ci­ety, and hence needs to be ap­pre­ci­ated and en­cour­aged, not suf­fo­cated and snuffed!” states Dasho.

He wrote that his post has no po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tive and it should be wel­comed rather than crit­i­cized for con­tribut­ing to a dis­course that will re­sult in the as­sess­ing of po­lit­i­cal choices and mak­ing de­ci­sions.

He men­tioned that an opin­ion on the same sub­ject mat­ter dur­ing elec­tion has been ex­pressed be­fore him by former DPT mem­ber con­test­ing as PDP can­di­date. He ques­tioned that the party has con­ve­niently not seen those news story and state­ments made on the same sub­ject dur­ing the same elec­tion time. “Lev­el­ing its com­plaint against me se­lec­tively raises ques­tions of ul­te­rior mo­tives,” he stated.

To­wards the end of his sub­mis­sion Dasho

Dr. Sonam Kinga said that DPT’s com­plaint is mean­ing­less in the con­text of ad­mis­sion of guilt by se­nior DPT lead­ers in pub­lic fo­rums as re­sponses to his Face­book post, and in the light of ex­ist­ing in­for­ma­tion on the is­sues dis­cussed which are all over the in­ter­net, news­pa­pers and pub­li­ca­tions, and, hence, he re­quests ECB to dis­miss the case.

He said that his Wechat mes­sages that trans­lates orally the text on Face­book has been com­pelled by DPT’s pre­ma­ture re­course to news me­dia.

He also men­tioned that he has with­held talk­ing to the me­dia by be­liev­ing the case is sub-ju­dice with ECB. Af­ter news re­port by BBS and Kuensel, many friends, well-wish­ers and fam­ily mem­bers called and texted him (even as he typed this sub­mis­sion in ECB’s of­fice) as to what he has done. They don’t read English, and hence he had to ex­plain what he wrote on it.

How­ever, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of DPT San­gay Phurba said, “I don’t know what was sub­mit­ted by Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga but our stand is very clear and we believe that he has vi­o­lated sec­tion 4.4 of the Elec­tion So­cial Me­dia Rules and Reg­u­la­tions. The con­tent had a derog­a­tive re­mark about the party be­cause of which a com­plaint was lodged with ECB. De­spite the fact that it is not al­lowed to do such thing he vi­o­lated the rule. His re­marks have dis­turbed the elec­toral chances of DPT. The de­ci­sion is in the hands of dis­pute set­tle­ment com­mit­tee of ECB.”

“We will go by the de­ci­sion of ECB and we were also briefed that if ei­ther of the party is not happy with the ver­dict then we can ap­peal to the com­mis­sion within two days,” he said.

Dr. Chador Wangdi, the me­dia ar­bi­tra­tor said the case is with the ECB and he has noth­ing to com­ment.

Elec­tion com­mis­sion’s spokesper­son and head of the elec­tion depart­ment Sonam Tob­gyal did not re­spond to Bhutan Bhutan’s ef­forts to con­tact him.

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