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Overhaul Samteling directive

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Prolonged Statelessness: A Slow Poison

Keeping citizenship and census pending for generations has been deeply ingrained in the system. Civil liberty is not guaranteed by the fledgling democracy of the Kingdom. After one generation of stateless people is bred, it multiplies, and that gives the authority of Home Ministry reason to criminalize these generations of being illegal immigrants who entered through porous border.

Three years have lapsed since the ‘democratic’ constitution was promulgated after much fanfare and ceremony. Actual change, as the appearance suggested then, hasn’t yet come under the fifth King, Jigme khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. The Samtenling directive, connected to the fourth king’s palace, is still pervasive. And, the fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution are still denied to the citizens.

The three major ethnic communities in Bhutan are the Ngalongs of the west, Lhotshampas of the south and Sharchops of the east. From 1972 to 1990, the share of top positions in government belonged first to the Ngalongs, followed by the Lhotshampas and Sharchops. After the rebellion by the Lhotshampas in 1990s, the position changed slightly. Ngalongs continued to occupy the top slot. The Sharchops leapfrogged to second place, relegating Lhotshampas to last position. Influential posts including the chief of army, chief of police and Gyalpoi Zimpon still go to the Ngalong community.

Prior to the promulgation of the ‘democratic’ constitution of 2008, a change was expected, but it was not to be. What we are seeing in Bhutan now is ethnic discrimination just as in the earlier times. The fifth King, too, is giving more importance to the Ngalong community. He gave away influential positions of the Gyalpoi Zimpon and Dronyer to the Ngalongs. This assertion doesn’t mean that the Ngalongs occupy all the elite positions. A handful of Sharchops are also in high positions, but they don’t owe their position to partiality or discriminatory policies. They have reached where they have based entirely on their merit and hard work. In the lower rung of the bureaucracy, army, police, business and other sectors, the Sharchops and the Lhotshampas, however, continue to dominate.

Many Bhutanese assumed that the western region had prospered more in comparison to other regions because the capital is situated in west. However, after three decades of observation, the basis for such deduction seems unfounded.

The neglect of the development in other regions is deliberate and the result of the discriminatory policies of the Samtenling directive. The government receives large funds for development from international donors and India. Where do those billions promised in each successive five-year plans to development projects to eastern and southern regions of Bhutan go, and will continue the same trend in future? For example, the Kurichu Hydropower Project, which has the potential to generate over 1000 MW, was reduced to a 45 MW plant. The government makes a big deal of having established this project in the east, whenever the question of development in the eastern region is raised.

To mention a rather dark-humoured incident that brings to the surface this sectarian attitude at the very top in Bhutan – during the general elections of 2008, gup Hopola, from Bartsham, Trashigang, who had served the queens for years, when asked by Queen Dorji Wangmo who he had voted for, frankly admitted that he had voted for Jigmi Thinley’s party as he thought that this party would serve the country best. Ashi Dorji Wangmo became very angry and said that Sharchops should never be trusted, definitely she had expected him to vote for her brother, Sangay Nidup’s party. Hopola was immediately sacked.

The fury of the fourth king against the Lhotsham and Sharchop communities for rebelling against the Royal Government of Bhutan in the 1990s hasn’t subsided even now. Sons and daughters of many Lhotshampas and Sharchops are denied security clearances and citizenship identity cards. They are denied opportunities in further studies and access to many welfare schemes that are available to other Bhutanese. I may be wrong, but so far I have not heard a single case of such denial to western Bhutanese. The denial of security clearances, better known as non-objection certificate, and citizenship has been the main policy of the fourth king Jigme Singey Wangchuck to satisfy his anger. On this issue, even the Members of Parliament are helpless, despite it being one of major problems affecting their constituencies.

The only person who can rectify this is the fifth King. We are happy that many vulnerable sections of society are receiving kidu from him. An overhaul of this obnoxious policy by the King would be a great kidu for the general public. Ex-Dzongda Kado, during a National Assembly session of 1970, had remarked that the government’s policies are similar to horse dung. From outside, it looks very smooth, but enclosed inside is full of waste. His observation of government policies of that time is no different than the policies of the present government, indeed.

The struggle by the Druk National Congress (DNC) and also the Lhotshampas has not much to do with the institution of monarch. The DNC’s struggle is to empower the Bhutanese people, ensure freedom and democratic rights and responsibilities under a written constitution, and to strengthen the sovereignty of the country. Likewise, the Lhotshampas have struggled to demand reinstating of their citizenship rights. The fourth king, who is ruling the nation from behind the scene, is solely responsible for the political crisis that ensued thereafter. Instead of putting an end to the crisis, he himself had created in first place by abdicating the throne leaving the crisis afresh as it is.

Now, the responsibility lies with the King to end the outstanding political crisis and break the adherence to the Samtenling directive. As to others, the DNC has high expectations from the fifth King. The discriminatory policies and the non-issuances of citizenship identity cards, and security clearances were the hallmark of the Samtenling directive. An overhaul of this will bring immense benefits to the people and the country. In addition, the respect for the years-old monarchy is going to increase more. Time has come to initiate a new directive from the Khesar’s palace – Lingkhana directive. Sooner the better.

(Dorji, who is President of the Druk National Congress, has been leading the strategic coalition formed by the party with Bhutan People’s Party, Bhutan National Democratic Party and Human Rights Council of Bhutan. The article which was first carried by the Bhutan Today, a bimonthly bulletin of the Dorji’s party, has been reproduced for readers of BNS.)


  1. Exellent view. Mr. Kinley you need to dig out more such hidden facts to the readers and activists to understand the reality of ongoing dark situation inside Bhutan.We are with you.


  2. Well written and researched article. I hope to see more of this insightful issues pertaining to the political pluralism in Bhutan. You have precisely pointed the obstruction and hardship the Lhotshampas and the Sharchops communities are facing in regards to NOC and citizenship ever since the eruption of 90’s people movements.
    I feel the people inside Bhutan should stand against the discriminatory program and policies brought about by the RGOB. I would like to see desirable change in Bhutan who can accommodates anybody and everybody with warmth and comfort.

  3. well done kinley!you found the truth.racism still exist here.EQUALITY AND LIBERTY is like a well decorated CROW with the beautiful feathers of the PEACOCK. you would better if you can come in and do something for the welfare of exploited people!YOU ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

  4. Dear Mr. Dorji,
    I clearly understand the weight of this write-up, but popularity at BNS site is inversly proportional to the content of the article. If you contribute armetuer type of writeups, readers appreciate.
    Yes, the directives from JSW castle was really overhauling. He preferred more a medeival period type of strategy that formed the concentric pattern. At the nucleus would be the rulers, then the security engulfment, followed by the business class and at the periphery would be the service class forming pure seggregrations. JSW included one more layer, the disliking ones – out of boundary.
    Regarding the developmental activities, we can purely feel the imbalance resulting in the primate conditions, disproportionate hierarchy. Such a condition will further lag the other regions or part. The districts that contributed highest GDP turned to be the poorest districts and all the resources were utilized elsewhere. Educational institutions turned to military barrack for all this 21 long years. A complete generation has been systematically forced to became iliterate, suiting for their concept of ‘yes man’ to make throne more rigid. See people are treated as mere animals, even some animals are treated more friendly than we human beings. Such a treachery pinches more. It’s not easy to become a refugee.
    Your reviews will definitely make us more transparent to understand some hidden interest of the tyrrany. My salute to you!

  5. another false story…..i can sense how u all are against Bhutan, it’s kings and people……hahahaha i would never believe from a guy who revolted against ones own country….

  6. Dear ilovebhutan,

    On reading ur piece of comment I felt pity on you. See there lies the difference…how you are compelled to speak in favor of JYT and the like. I know for sure, you very well know the truth yet, poor you, compel to tag this piece of write-up false story.
    Man, you know truth is bitter and hard to digest and the one who has wit to digest is only the real man. I hope if you appear again in this forum you will come with real mind. I am witnessing the ongoing drama in the name of democracy here in Thimphu. I know very well the type of people trained in Bhutan Study Center here.
    And, it looks like you are one among the trainees.

    Friend revelation of truth is not so far now here in Thimphu for time is a great healer. On reading this you may call me ngolop for the common term taught in BSC is this…for now let me just tell you real ngolop is ruling the country you believe me or not. or read the life history of Hosni Mubarak what difference do you see in between JYT and Hosni. May be Hosni ruled for 40yrs or so and JYT for less number of yrs, thats it.

    There was Lotus flower in this forum for a while for his good he understood my suggestion and stopped bringing BSC made stuffs. I wish him best of luck for understanding in advance for being a toy for someone’s good.
    More in next……

  7. What makes the sense that “revolted against onces own country”. Nobody can revolt against the country. What a bogus comments u had made here Mr, ‘ILOVEBHUTAN”??? May be some people can revolt against the cruelty of rulers and giants of negativity. That doesn’t mean they are equals to the country. That doesn’t mean that if the cruel rulers are deleted or erased from the political scene, the country is vanished !!! The country remains and only the cruel giants disappear during the course of time and between generations. Ur sense demonstrated that u r not loving Bhutan, u are just going crazy with your nasty king….!

  8. have a pity upon this poor fellow,ilovebhutan! its enough..he will never come back to this forum again with his poor vision……….

  9. Your identity ,as in your name says, is fake. Because people who love thier country donot self-praise as you do. Love your country and work for the entire community of your lovely country, not for the king who shamelessly dared to exiled his loyal people(as he loves to call subjects) and compelled them to protect their lives in refugee camps on international mercy. Others will give you a good name that suites your great service to the nation.

  10. @kafley my name shows my love for my country and ya about the self-praise u all made me do it….and will do more in future….:)…@kismat sharma pity on me…haha….guess thats for you… am happy here….ya i ll come back again and again to correct u..@marie creating problems and going against government is revolting isnt it….@shrawan k gurung i cant help u poor guy…cos i cant follow ur suggestion….same applies to u y cant u digest the truth….n u mean thimphu in Jhapa…lol….keep dreaming…as long as u all write i ll write too…..but u write against my country and i ll write to protect my country…..peaceeeeeeeeeee

  11. @ Kafley

    What do mean by stating loyal people….of all people (lotsampa) who has Nepal Kings protrait hanging on the walls at their homes(i belive u people r more loyal to nepal king). U might b born and brought up in Bhutan but u were more Nepali than Bhutanese from inside. please accept the fact that u people were equally responsible for 1990’s problem.


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