05 May 2022

Blame Not Your Country. It’s the Committees

I was chatting with a friend who was reprimanded for writing stuff on Twitter, which, according to a 'disciplinary committee', violated the civil service code of conduct. He said the committee has decided to withhold his promotion for a year as an administrative action. 

He said he didn't write anything so out of the ordinary to be punished. He said they scrolled up and down his Twitter feed to see if he had really written anything so wrong to violate the civil service code of conduct. 

I told him to appeal to the committee and ask them to prove their charges because the official letter states he can appeal within 10 working days.

"I don't think that will work. I might land up making it worse. I will rather resign and go to Australia." He said. 

"If that has pushed you to the brink of resignation, then what's the problem in appealing and facing the committee? What could possibly go wrong? Even if things don't work out, you could still resign." I said.

"Awooo, laakha du mena Bhutan na." He said, which shocked me. His statement paints a different picture of Bhutan. It sounds as if it's dangerous to speak up in Bhutan. 

So, I told him, "Man, don't bash your country for the action of the so called committee that is made up of a bunch of pleasers who think they are doing their job with utmost dedication. Your country didn't fail you; the committee failed you. You are not fighting against your country; you are fighting against the committee. Please know the difference and separate the two."

It was easy for me to say this, but for him, holding that letter in his hand, the fear was real. God knows what sort of big words and names they must have dropped when handing the letter to him. Here is my personal request to all those committees, please don't let ordinary citizens bash their country for your actions. You have to own it up. You can't use names and acts and clauses to threaten people and make them shit bricks. You are doing big disfavour to this country. These committees are whittling away at Bhutan's unique democratic culture that the successive kings have painstakingly built over the last decades. 

The best ways around to help civil servants avoid violating clause, Chapter 3 of BCSR 2018 are;

  1. Conduct social media literacy to help them use the platforms productively. 
  2. Create open internal platforms for dialogues with the assurance that they won't be reprimanded.
Otherwise, it will only breed hostile anonymous communities that will go beyond attacking policies into defaming individuals, family members and even their beloved country. That's worse than violating the civil service code of conduct.  

1 comment:

  1. Dear Passu,
    My position is that the BCSR on prohibiting civill service from speaking out is in direct conflict with the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution is clear - every one has the freedom of speech and no law that says you cannot speak is in contravention of the Constitution.

    I asked a knowledgeable person why the Supreme Court, charged with the responsibility of being its custodian, was not stepping in. I am told SC will not act suo moto - unless a petition is filed by the aggrieved person.


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