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Bhutan Observer
Editorial
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Let’s be more hon’ble in debate
Editor, June 27, 2013
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 It’s a pity that our politicians have to be reminded, time and time again, how they can be less personalised in their debate and why. Many discerning observers are embarrassed and worried by the way the politicians seek to bring one another down by engaging in petty personalised debate at the expense of fruitful discourse.

The Election Commission of Bhutan’s (ECB) cautionary letter to the parties last week served them right. After the caution from the ECB, the tone has become a little less confrontational, but constant insinuations against each other have become part of any debate or meeting. This is unbecoming of a people known to be civil and respectful to one another. This is not sending out a pleasant message.

The moment a public debate starts, the candidates from both the parties and their supporters are visibly seething with hostility and resentment. They cannot bring themselves to talk about the other party without insinuating. We welcome constructive criticism, not insinuations tinged with personalised messages.

Candidates from both the parties, particularly the older and more experienced ones, have adopted a holier-than-thou attitude that make them not only touchy, but also unreasonably aggressive, or preachy. Most candidates spend most of their campaign or debate time ‘clarifying’ issues, which has now become synonymous with expression of resentment and bitterness. Our parties and candidates would look much more honourable if they presented themselves and their promises to the people rather than constantly criticising and belittling their rivals.

And in the debates, candidates tend to react harshly to each other’s questions even if the questions are valid and reasonable. We need to remember that, as aspiring leaders, they will face questions and criticisms all the time. They need to face them positively and objectively.

And candidates bring along their supporters to the debates loaded with questions and statements that are often highly personalised. We suspect that party supporters are instigated to take on the candidates on certain inflammatory issues. We are today starting a democratic culture and we don’t want to start on a discordant note. We call upon our politicians not to get consumed by the thirst for power.

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