|Opposition Leader with Dasho Benji- Photo Courtesy: RSPN Website|
Individually, we must be warned that we can't just say anything against anybody if we can't substantiate. You should be more careful if you are a prominent figure in the society. Your words can be interpreted in many ways. And most importantly we should know freedom of speech has limits, which is not defined.
On the contrary, what Dasho Benji did was a very democratic example to the so many young followers he has on social media. He is illustrating how to speak up without shying, and most importantly he was showing us that we need not be anonymous to speak up boldly. But what DPT did to Dasho will have very deep impact on the emerging culture of social dialogue. People will never take chances and we may always resort to speaking anonymously.
Druk Phunsum Tshogpa, as a party should have never bothered about such petty comments because this is politics. They should focus on bigger goals of nurturing democracy in the country rather than giving suicidal threats from time to time. Their very nature of going off-focus lost them 2013 election, where instead of talk about what they will do they spent the whole campaign period talking and laughing about what the other party was going to do.
While it's easy to file a defamation case, just as freedom of speech has no well defined boundary, defamation doesn't have shape too. Freedom of speech doesn't necessarily end where defamation begins. The thin line between the two is very flexible. Therefore, now Dasho Benji's lawyer is charging DTP for "infringe upon the fundamental rights of an individual, which is guaranteed by Constitution.” He goes on for 13 pages where international examples of how political parties can't sue individual were cited. In a surprising backfire, after failing to convince the party that 'robbing the country blind' was a figure of speech, Dasho Benji is now substantiating his Facebook comments by digging out the ugly past, which could cost the party Nu.75 million. Party shouldn't have cornered the cat.
6 December, DTP will present their argument and the case will go on for sometime. Opposition will lose so much in this case- from time, attention to their real job, public support and perhaps Nu.75 million.
Who Should Win?
If DTP wins, freedom of speech will be under question. There will be lesser people daring to say anything openly. There will be lots of anonymous users on social media. The very foundation of democratic dialogue will be dead.
If Dasho Benji wins, then it will lead to more social dialogues, not personal attacks. People who are hiding behind the mask will slowly come out in the open without fear. DPT will need a loan of Nu.75 million to drink their own ara.