JURMI CHHOWING A Ques­tion of In­tent

Business Bhutan - - Opinion -

(Act 1: Synop­sis)

Dasho (Dr.) Sonam Kinga presents the synop­sis of his forth­com­ing book, `Po­lit­i­cal Con­tests as Moral Bat­tles’ on his Face­book Page. Dasho Sonam Kinga is a two-time mem­ber of the Na­tional Coun­cil (one-term Chair­per­son) and a re­cip­i­ent of the pres­ti­gious Red Scarf from His Majesty the King. In other words, Dasho Sonam Kinga’s words carry weight.

I read the synop­sis as it was pre­sented. Tan­taliz­ingly, the book waits. The sum­mary was bold in its as­ser­tion that the DPT con­spired and ex­e­cuted a plan of ac­tion un­der­min­ing the right of the king, cul­mi­nat­ing in the no­to­ri­ous DPT con­ven­tion of 19. 07. 2013. I do not con­test the sum­mary, be­cause un­til the book is out, he de­serves the ben­e­fit of the doubt. The devil may re­side and ap­pear in the de­tails but the tone of the ex­tract rings a loud bell: events which spi­raled out of con­trol and cre­ated dishar­mony the coun­try could ill-af­ford.

Five years hence, this po­ten­tial­ity still rings an alarm­ing bell. But per­haps this time the re­minder is to let sleep­ing dogs lie, lest they froth, bark, bite and in­fect a mad­den­ing dis­ease.

That is why I ques­tion the tim­ing of the dis­clo­sure. Why choose this elec­tive point in time to make it pub­lic? Is there an ul­te­rior mo­tive? If in­deed there is - what is it? Be­cause if there is noth­ing to hide the in­ten­tion should be made crys­tal clear by stat­ing the rea­sons for the ex­posé, es­pe­cially at this highly-charged, frag­ile time. That no one ap­pears to know the stim­u­lus be­hind the ac­tion is the rea­son ev­ery­one who has read the synop­sis is ask­ing the same ques­tion – `why?’

We are, hence, left to our de­vices. For had he stated that his pur­pose was to not only keep the DPT out of power but also to re­as­sure the masses that they should do like­wise, then all he had to do was make that re­mark the open­ing state­ment, share the synop­sis, and an­nounce the date of pub­li­ca­tion. We’d have known where he stood. We’d have drawn our con­clu­sions and left the mat­ter at a lit­er­ary stand. Since he did not make those clar­i­fi­ca­tions, the sub­ject mat­ter has now sired con­spir­acy the­o­ries that are in­flam­ma­tory to the very fires he means to put out.

I do not sup­port the DPT. And glad as I am that Dasho Sonam Kinga has de­tailed the finer nar­ra­tive of what tran­spired in an episode marred by the am­bi­tion of power, I feel flum­moxed at the tim­ing of it all, leav­ing me to ques­tion the mo­ti­va­tion, again.

The mole on the tip of a nose is ob­vi­ous. It isn’t go­ing any­where. There is no point in point­ing it out. If you must, point it out sub­tly. But any­how, we know there is a mole.

(Act 2: Broad­cast­ers)

Dawa, a former jour­nal­ist and hard-talk­ing tele­caster with the Bhutan Broad­cast­ing Service, has spo­ken pub­licly about the work­ings of the most pow­er­ful news or­ga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. This rev­e­la­tion comes from a re­puted jour­nal­ist who used to grill his in­ter­vie­wees with the press­ing ques­tions and pulling in­quiries that made BBS a watch­able chan­nel. He has now made his res­ig­na­tion from the state broad­cast­ing sta­tion pub­lic in an emo­tion­ally charged ad­dress dur­ing a po­lit­i­cal rally. My fo­cus wasn’t on the pol­i­tics. My fo­cus was on the charges against the BBS, as it looks like the BBS was com­pro­mised a long time ago.

I’ve no rea­son to doubt Dawa’s ac­count. I first saw Dawa on the na­tional sta­tion con­duct­ing a thor­oughly en­gag­ing in­ter­view and then made it a point to watch his telling shows that were steered in a very in­formed, civil and in­quis­i­tive man­ner. His sig­na­ture show bode well for the demo­cratic dis­course.

Per­son­ally (com­ing from a sim­i­lar back­ground in what was a hope­ful me­dia sec­tor), I’ve sym­pa­thized with the teething prob­lems that be­set the pur­suit and prac­tice of jour­nal­ism in the king­dom; with the prob­lem of­ten tak­ing on the growth of all teeth yet be­ing spoon­fed bot­tles of paci­fy­ing milkby ev­ery­body - the man­age­ment, the gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic. Jour­nal­ism was a lose-lose oc­cu­pa­tion. Half the blame lies in a man­age­ment learn­ing to cope with the power of in­for­ma­tion and how best to col­lect, ad­min­is­ter and dis­til that in­for­ma­tion, and the other half in the prac­ti­tion­ers of jour­nal­ism suf­fer­ing from in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plexes and a lack of imag­i­na­tion. With that in mind, when I saw the clip of Dawa re­port­ing the pro­fes­sional in­ter­fer­ence from the pow­ers that be and the per­sonal tur­moil he had to en­dure, I em­pathized again. I think he is right in that a news or­ga­ni­za­tion with the re­sources and ca­pa­bil­ity of one such as the BBS should rise above the pet­ti­ness of ad­min­is­tra­tion, man­age­ment, and above all - party pol­i­tics.

Where my sym­pa­thy is tested is at the ques­tion­able tim­ing of his pub­lic out­pour­ing. If he was speak­ing as a would-be DNT can­di­date and politi­cian then the tim­ing was im­pec­ca­ble.But I wish he had stated pre­cisely that, be­cause by blam­ing a po­lit­i­cal party - in this case the PDP - for his pro­fes­sional dis­crim­i­na­tion is too con­ve­nient a cop-out. Long be­fore Dawa’s ten­ure, the ploys and plots of the BBS were leg­end; ap­par­ent in the type of pro­grams they pro­duced and aired and the kind of peo­ple they hired and fired (or co­erced to re­sign). And this was hap­pen­ing since the days of the DPT; some might even ar­gue much ear­lier. Which re­minds me that the rea­son I was worked up was not be­cause po­lit­i­cal points were scored, but be­cause at last, an in­sti­tu­tion as hal­lowed but flawed as the Bhutan Broad­cast­ing Service had fi­nally been brought to light. And this is a mat­ter de­mand­ing de­bate and de­lib­er­a­tion. It is, af­ter all, the sin­gle most pow­er­ful news me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. And if busi­ness as usual en­sues, come 2023 we shall wit­ness more con­fes­sions of wrong­do­ings at po­lit­i­cal podi­ums. The least de­sirous plat­form for such pro­nounce­ments.

Now is the ripen­ing mo­ment when the BBS can be­come a proper and trans­par­ent pub­lic sta­tion, with an apo­lit­i­cal stance and prac­tice, man­dated as free and fair. Be­cause elec­tions will keep com­ing, and par­ties with vested in­ter­ests will come and go, at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence news and me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions - pro­vid­ing all the more rea­son to stick to demo­cratic ethos.

(Con­clu­sion: Syn­the­sis)

In both acts the so­lil­o­quies lack clar­ity and in­ten­tion. Mo­ti­va­tion is ev­ery­thing. It is, by the way, not nec­es­sary that your in­cen­tive be only seen and heard when it is ben­e­fi­cial and hid­den when it is at a dis­ad­van­tage. Ob­vi­ously, the best mo­ti­va­tion is no-mo­ti­va­tion, just as the best agenda is of­ten no-agenda. Fail­ing that, the next best mo­ti­va­tion is the dec­la­ra­tion of one’s in­tent - in its spe­cific time, con­text and space. Oth­er­wise, it is the very snake pit in which all sorts of ser­pents come to hiss, slither and coil. And I’d not like to con­coct a con­spir­acy where there isn’t one. I’d much rather give you the ben­e­fit of the doubt. But first, please, you must ex­tend the same courtesy to me.

The end.

Jurmi Chhowing is a writer. He’s the founder of Yal­lamma! The Writ­ing Com­pany. He can be emailed at iamdrukpa@gmail.com

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