Written by  //  March 30, 2008  //  Asia, Geopolitics  //  Comments Off on Bhutan

Bhutan Broadcasting Service
BBC Country profile and news

Wednesday Night has two unusual links to Bhutan which have given us a greater than usual interest in this tiny marvelous Land of the Thunder Dragon. The first is through our friend Colin Everard who chose Bhutan as the setting of his novel “Safe Skies” about the impact of modern civil aviation and its safety issues on the developing world.

Our second and more immediate contact was in the person of Dawa, a Sauvé Scholar of the 2005-2006 group, introduced to Wednesday Night by Kate Reed, one of the few Montrealers who knows anything at all about Bhutan. After Dawa returned to Bhutan from Canada, he was given extensive responsibilities for developing programs for the Bhutanese Broadcast Services, including live talk shows on TV on different issues, which are largely controversial in nature. He writes that he is mostly involved in covering current issues.

Tibet Trauma Set Bhutan On Long March To Democracy
(Planet Ark – Reuters) THIMPU – When its big brother Tibet was invaded by China in 1950, the lesson was not lost on the rulers of the tiny hermit kingdom of Bhutan.
Bhutan wanted to avoid what it saw as the mistake of Tibet — having few diplomatic friends and shouldered with a feudal society that gave China the excuse to “liberate” it from serfdom.
In 1971, Bhutan did what Tibet had never done, joined the United Nations.
Isolation did not pay, and a gradual process of opening up and modernisation culminated on Monday with the first parliamentary elections in the history of the last independent Himalayan kingdom.

March 31
(ABC Australian Radio) Bhutan opposition MPs resign in protest
Opposition politicians in Bhutan have asked the country’s Election Commission to investigate allegations of possible illegal last-minute campaigning by the party that won the majority in last week’s elections.
The opposition People’s Democratic Party won just two seats in the new 47-seat national assembly, in the polls that made Bhutan the world’s newest democracy, after more than a century of absolute monarchy.
Both the two winning candidates resigned their seats in protest on Friday.
March 26
Heavy Turnout in First Bhutan Election
(NYT) NEW DELHI — Orders from the palace sent the people of Bhutan rushing to the polls for their first national elections on Monday, as the once reclusive Land of the Thunder Dragon further opened its doors and joined the world’s democracies.
While turnout was heavier than in many countries more experienced with voting — nearly 80 percent by the time polls closed at 5 p.m. — the results left some analysts wondering how democracy would actually function.
Of the 47 seats in Parliament, according to provisional results from the Election Commission of Bhutan, 44 went to Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, whose name can be translated as the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party. The rival People’s Democratic Party (English is widely spoken among the Bhutanese elite), the only other party running, lost resoundingly. Its leader, Sangay Ngedup, lost his own constituency.
There were no striking differences between the platforms of the two parties, making the vastly uneven results hard to explain. “We are all caught completely off balance at this moment,” Karma Ura, director of the Center for Bhutan Studies, a government-financed organization, said by telephone from Thimphu, the capital. “Functioning of democracy requires a good opposition. I don’t know what will happen now. It’s not an ideal situation.”
The election was a step toward democracy, but the monarchy remains in place. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, 28, will remain head of state after the elections.

March 23
(Al Jazeera) Bhutan prepares to end royal rule
Bhutan is gearing up for parliamentary elections that will end more than a century of royal rule and make the Himalayan kingdom the world’s newest democracy.
More than 300,000 people in the tiny Buddhist state will be able to vote for members of the 47-seat national assembly or the lower house of the parliament on Monday.
(IHT) Bhutan will end century of royal rule
THIMPU, Bhutan: The secluded Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, a land that has made promoting happiness its paramount goal, will end more than a century of royal rule Monday with its first parliamentary elections.
And no one, apart from the king who is giving up his power, seems happy about it.
Candidates proudly call themselves monarchists. Party workers describe the vote as “heartbreaking.” Voters fret about what will become of the Land of the Thunder Dragon when it trades its Precious Ruler for politicians.
(National Geographic, April 2008) Bhutan’s Enlightened Experiment
Guided by a novel idea, the tiny Buddhist kingdom tries to join the modern world without losing its soul.

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