“Undermines democracy”: PM
… but will abide by it, although poor may suffer
|Meet the press: The government is apprehensive its hands will be tied|
SC Verdict 25 February, 2011 – “The opposition leader’s appeal was a simple one on the procedure, but the High Court expanded it to tie up the government’s hands and then passed rulings that I dare say undermines democracy,” Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley said.
This was in response to one of the journalists’ questions following the Supreme Court’s verdict on the first constitutional case that was revealed just about half-an-hour after the first meet the press session of the year began.
“How do you raise revenue when the very means is squashed by the judiciary and then again by the Supreme Court?” he said.
He said the Supreme Court was the final arbitrator, leaving the government with no other avenues to appeal whether it was right or wrong.
“Whether that rule of law has been interpreted correctly or not, when the ruling is made by the highest authority with respect to law, we’ll abide by it and, by abiding by it, probably the poor will suffer,” he said.
He said the government may not be able to complete the roads that it has started, nor have a system in place for its maintenance, and neither the ability to complete rural electrification.
Lyonchhoen said there were about 4,000 households yet to be electrified, of which some 3,100 alone were under the Japanese grant, which although ready awaited to be signed.
“Anything to do with development assistance, the consolidated fund will have to be processed as a Money Bill, meaning unless the government gains approval of parliament, the government can’t take initiatives,” he said.
The Japanese, for example, he said, cautioned that if the country failed to sign the agreement before March, the terms and conditions for the grant agreed on would change drastically.
Other donors, such as World Bank and the ADB, he said, have also said the same.
“This is a country that is enjoying peace, stability and prosperity, owing to the generosity of development partners and the persistence by which its leaders beg for money,” he said. “Now we’ve been told to beg but after planning and parliament’s approval. How do I know who I’ll meet?”
When a government can’t deliver because it has no resources, that government will lose the confidence of the people, who will then bring that government down, the prime minister cautioned.
“If we’re going to be led by our nose, by people and systems, and organisations that want to make themselves popular, then we have no hope,” Lyonchhoen said. “And I can’t see what the purpose of us being in the government is going to be.”
The verdict by the Supreme Court and the High Court may sound the same, but could be very different because legal jargon can be very complicated, the prime minister said. Each line of the verdict will have to be examined, he said.
However, whether this government stays on or not, Lyonchhoen said this was the government that has come to serve and was not brought by power and privilege.
“If privilege and power were all that mattered, this Supreme Court judgment doesn’t make any difference,” the prime minister said. “But if our main objective that is to serve the people isn’t going to be possible because of this ruling, then we have to think.”
Lyonchhoen said the media, while growing, is on a populist drive and has done very little for democracy. “You’re swayed so easily and you do us all wrong, the well intended government and the innocent public,” the prime minister told the media.
“You’ve worked very hard to make us feel very guilty of having come to government with such a large majority and you’ve shown no respect for the people’s mandate. We’ve been made weak by our strong mandate, by the media and by people who aren’t able to look beyond the present,” the prime minister said.
Lyonchhoen also asked the media persons to read and understand both the verdicts and the government’s appeal letter to the Supreme Court and analyse it sincerely.
“You’ve always taken this government as the power to fear and as the authority that could misuse power,” Lyonchhoen said. “For once at least sympathise with us. Be true, be trusting and be sincere in your analysis.”