Quite a lengthy debate and an exchange of arguments were ostensible during the discussion in the National Assembly (NA) last week on amending the provisions in the Acts regarding the resignation of elected Members of the Parliament (MPs).
The three Acts particularly were the National Assembly Act 2008, the National Council Act 2008 and the Local Government Act 2009. The NA deputy speaker moved the motion to amend these Acts in the wake of the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) president and the winning candidate of Nanong-Shumar constituency Jigmi Y Thinley’s resignation about a month back after the elections.
The amendment, it was contended, will help streamline the resignation procedures which were said to presently have ambiguities. And some argued that it would help save extra expenditure that is incurred while holding by-elections.
Not just about deploying security and officials, there is no denying the fact that it will also save people, particularly in those constituencies, from the troubles of having to vote time and again.
This would perhaps even help prepare the parliamentarians for unforeseen experiences, the kind of situation that caught them surprisingly when the DPT president submitted his resignation.
Some members expressed that the Acts were proposed for amendment to strengthen and ascertain the resignation procedures. But what merits more discussion is don’t we have enough provisions in these Acts when it comes to resignation.
There are already provisions that allow elected members to resign in these Acts. Certain observers closely monitoring the session feel that there are other more important issues to be deliberated that concern people’s lives and problems than the resignation issue.
As this is the first session of the second Parliament and happening at a time when there are other more pressing issues, it’s only expected that our MPs exhibit better sense and wisdom, especially priority and urgency, while submitting issues for Parliamentary debates. Or does the incident reaffirmed that there is still a long way to go?
Unquestionably, the MPs have absolute freedom of speech and expression, but how would it help if what concern us are about taking potshots against each other? What if it’s only about resorting to slur each other? Doing so, we would not only be disrespecting and undermining the sanctity of the institution of the Parliament.
The rule of the law per se is pivotal in a democracy. But perhaps a greater delving into the meaning of democracy would also do us good. If democracy is all about the rule of the law, it’s also about choices. Just like people have the freedom to make choices, there should also be freedom for an elected member to either stay or call it a quit. And anyway, what good will it do to have an elected member coerced to serve against his/her will?