The Royal Civil Service Commission reprimanded urologist Dr Lotay Tshering for his public statement criticising the royal government.
The commission, during its 177th meeting held on April 16, 2013, reviewed his [DrLotay’s] statement made in public as a civil servant, found that he had breached a number of provisions of the Constitution, the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010, and the BCSR 2012.
A letter sent to Dr Lotay, signed by Commissioner Bachu Phub Dorji, said that “The RCSC considers your [DrLotay’s] statements made in media as highly inappropriate and not permissible as per the prevailing laws of the land...which requires a civil servant, inter alia, to remain ‘apolitical.’”
The letter urged DrLotay to abide by the Civil Service Code of Conduct and Ethics.
Any repetition on DrLotay’s part in criticising the government or expressing opinions on party politics, particularly in the public would “compel the RCSC to take necessary administrative actions against you as per the provisions of Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010 and the BCSR 2012, including termination of your service,” reads the letter.
“I genuinely feel what Bhutan is going through today is a political crisis,” Kuensel quoted DrLotay as saying on its April 13 issue. “I feel the way things are going now in the name of democracy isn’t healthy.”
Kuensel reported that DrLotay still has a service obligation of 4.4 years, which translates to Nu 6.6M refund if he chooses to leave the civil service.
“My only political aim is to have a strong opposition in the parliament.
“There’s a big divide in the political system in the country, between the so-called politics and the so-called civil servants,” said DrLotay in Kuensel.
The constitution requires a civil servant to be ‘independent and apolitical’ and implement ‘the policies and programmes of government.”
The section 44 (1) of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010 requires a civil servant to refrain from publicly expressing adverse opinion against the government.
According to BCSR 2012, a civil servant shall not disrepute the government, agencies, superiors, peers and subordinates. He or she should not criticise his agency and the government; criticise in public the policies, programmes and actions of his or her agency.
Further, a civil servant shall refrain from making any statement of fact or opinion in the media or in any other document which may have adverse effects against policies or actions of the government.
The BCSR also says that a civil servant shall maintain integrity of the position he is holding, defend and implement the policies and the programmes of the government and his agency, always support the government in furthering its policies and programmes, and give all his expertise and feedback. He or she shall not criticise or undermine policies, programmes and actions of the government in public and or the media.
A comment on Kuensel forum reads “If rules are not to be followed, why do we have them? Be it for the benefit of good politics or anything else, rules have to be implemented fairly and strictly.”
Before resigning from the civil service, a person should not declare their intention to join a political party.
Civil servant must be apolitical, and therefore, have no party affiliation whatsoever.
“Now, what will happen to those civil servants who have made their party interests public but cannot resign?’ asked one civil servant.
Editor’s Note: Bhutan Observer decided not to interview Dr Lotay Tshering because his opinions expressed in the media would have adverse effects on the government and his own career.