The very recent bone of contention in the proposed Bhutan Civil Service Bill, 2009, by the Royal Civil Service Commission that had already been passed by the National Assembly in the last Assembly is exclusively on the Chapter 4 of the bill.
The Bill could not be passed since it was characterized by confusion as some contradicting points were resolved with a simple majority in the last National Assembly in the month of November 2009.
Many a civil servants though are overtly reluctant on ruminating over the matter although it is them besides the media that will be affected the most. This I presume, if I may is the dire pathetic situation in my country. Every one is for themselves. No one wants to walk the tight rope!
I will point out the two particular clauses in Chapter 4, 'Duties and Rights of civil Servants' in sections (k) of the bill, wherein is mentioned that the Civil Servants should “maintain confidentiality of all facts and information discovered in the course of the duty, both while in service and after separation from the service.”
Similarly in section (i) of the bill it dictates to the civil servants, “To refrain from publicly expressing any adverse opinions against the government,” while not clearly elaborating on the clause any further. What ‘adverse’ does it mean? Are healthy debates not to be encouraged then? Should we see democracy in our country fledging fromt the start already?
These two clauses as any educated Bhutanese lot would know are in variance directly with the Article 7 of the constitution of the kingdom of Bhutan the 'fundamental Rights' that says in sections:
(2) A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech, opinion and expression.
(3) A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to information.
(5) There shall be freedom of the press, radio and television and other forms of dissemination of information, including electronic.
Dasho Kinley Dorji, the Secretary of Ministry of Information and Communication tells me almost vehemently but with a tinge of little diplomacy, “Restricting the civil servants from freedom of speech is certainly not a wise thing to do. The concerned persons who have come up with the bill obviously need to re-think and re-discuss these two clauses. However, what we should also understand is, there will be certain things which the government will not want to reveal to the public solely for security reasons.”
While Tashi Phuntsho Wangdi the Chief Editor of K4 media is certainly “not happy with the bill.”
In line with Tashi Phuntsho Wangdi’s opinion the two Managing editors, Ugyen Penjore of Kuensel Corporation and Needrup Zangpo of Bhutan Observer bares the fact that about 90% of the information they as a media organization get are from the civil servants and if this bill became an act, it would further bottleneck necessary information they will need for public better service.
This bill will be put up in the upcoming National Council meeting sometime in the month of June or July 2010 to be established as an Act. Scary moments ahead, right?