Business Bhutan reporter Pema Seldon catches up with the Opposition Leader and party president of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), Dr (Phd) Pema Gyamtsho to talk about the party’s status, plans and the upcoming elections.
1.The elections 2018 is approaching and as one of the strongest parties currently, what expectations does DPT have?
Answer– We are very confident of making it to the general elections. We have seasoned candidates, many of whom have now served more than two terms as MPs and a very strong support base. We have also a well-organized party structure consisting of Dzongkhag and Demkhong coordinators and core members.
2. How many candidates – confirmed and prospective do you have right now?
Answer– We are in the process of confirming the participation of our old candidates and filling in the replacements for the vacant constituencies. We do not foresee any problem fielding candidates as many qualified and competent individuals are coming forward to join us.
3. What major challenges do you foresee for the party and how would you go about it?
Answer– The party has to ward off false allegations being thrown at it by individuals and groups who see us as a strong contender for the 2018 elections. These allegations are ill-founded as everyone knows that DPT is a party whose loyalty to the Throne, patriotism to the country, and service to the people are beyond reproach. Contrary to what some people say, DPT has among its ranks, members who have served the King, country and people for decades and have a proven track record to show. The Party is also facing serious resource constraints and is currently being funded through mandatory contributions from the serving MPs.
4. What is DPT’s USP?
Answer– DPT is in a unique position in contesting the 2018 elections. It has the advantage of having served as both ruling and opposition parties with significant number of members. It has set exemplary precedents both as ruling and opposition. As a ruling party, it has ensured that national security and sovereignty, self-reliance, peace and unity. It has relentlessly pursued the noble goals of GNH in line with its ideology of “Equity and Justice.” It has built on the work of the pre-democracy era and brought roads at the gates of nearly every village, electricity in almost every home, and digital telephone at nearly everyone’s finger tips. As an Opposition, it has played a very constructive and responsible role and did not oppose the government for the sake of opposing. In fact the opposition members are carrying out the bulwark of parliamentary functions besides pointing out the blunders and excesses being committed by the government.
Looking ahead, we will bring back our mission to promote GNH on track and strengthen national security, economic self-reliance, and peace and unity among our people. We will focus on increasing exports and revenue earning, create quality jobs for youth and improve urban and rural infrastructures. We will be going into the elections with the highest number of candidates who have already served as parliamentarians besides having a broad range of expertise from the civil and public services as well as the private and corporate sectors. We have the deepest awareness and appreciation of our current and emerging challenges as well as the capacity to seize the unique opportunities before us.
5. If DPT wins who will be the party president?
Answer– Good question – let us wait until after we win and then you will find out!
6. What do you have to say about DNT suing the government?
Answer– As a legitimate political party, it has every right to sue the government based on its analysis of an issue of national interest.
7. Do you see Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) as a strong contender now that Dasho Neten Zangmo has joined the party?
Answer– We welcome the decision of Dasho Neten to join politics and wish her and her party, the BKP, best of luck and success.