AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

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The state must protect tenants during emergencies
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
The state must protect tenants during emergencies

Sonam Tshering, lawyer, in Kuensel (January 16, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

The state must protect tenants during emergencies

The news of possible evictions and an increase in house rents particularly with no sign that the pandemic lockdown will be eased is a grave concern. The slogan of “stay home, stay safe” would be defeated unless the government immediately suspends evictions including the issuance of removal notices, threats of imposing late payment penalties, or increasing rents. The government went as far as suspending some laws such as pay-revision measures. His Majesty the King’s waiver of loan interest did not seem to have any positive impact on tenants.

Many countries issued a temporary ban on residential evictions to combat the pandemic’s economic effects, anticipating that many tenants will not be able to pay their rent. Our government so far has remained reluctant to take any action against landlords for political or other reasons.

When it becomes impossible to pay the rents due to state-imposed lockdowns or restrictions, failure to pay rents can be excused at least till such tenants can resume earning income. If landlords evict tenants by force or enter without permission, the tenant may report the matter to the police, possibly charge their landlords for harassment, assault, trespass, and other relevant provisions.

The government must understand that fighting against this pandemic does not mean mere lockdowns or threats of incarceration or testing or imposition of numerous restrictions depriving people of their livelihood. Since the fundamental right to livelihood has been deprived by the state, the state has the responsibility to protect these groups. With no indication that the lockdown will be eased any time soon, the least the government can do is immediately to issue orders suspending any form of eviction until the current situation normalizes.

Under the King’s Guidance, Covid-19 Strategies Have Succeeded
Monday, August 10, 2020
Under the King’s Guidance, Covid-19 Strategies Have Succeeded

Chenkyab Dorji, diplomat, in Kuensel (August 8, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Thomas Trunk/123RF)

Under the King’s Guidance, Covid-19 Strategies Have Succeeded

The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Bhutan was detected on 6 March 2020. Since then, under the enlightened leadership and personal guidance of His Majesty The King, the government has taken many steps to mitigate risks and prevent the transmission and spread of the disease in the country. In fact, His Majesty was already aware of the risks and challenges that Covid-19 could pose to the people and country even before the detection of the first confirmed case and was pro-actively preparing response plans and strategies.

Bhutan’s preparedness, response strategies and efforts have been lauded as many steps were taken in a proactive manner despite the fact that there was no local transmission in the country. Covid-19 has brought the country together to combat and overcome one of the greatest challenges of our times. The swift and deliberate manner with which Bhutan acted to prepare and respond while countries in the region and beyond were overwhelmed by the pandemic is noteworthy, particularly given our constraints and limited resources.

Going forward, what is important and imperative is for each and every citizen to be responsible by supporting the efforts of the Royal Government to prevent local/community transmission. As a senior citizen, I urge and appeal to all Bhutanese to be responsible and comply with health advisories such as wearing face masks, washing hands frequently and physical distancing. The Druk Trace App is an extremely important tool for contact tracing and must be used whenever visiting any public place.

We all have a solemn responsibility, individually and collectively, to prevent the transmission and spread of Covid-19. We cannot afford to become complacent, irresponsible or reckless. We must continue to work together with steadfast resolve and unity of purpose to protect our communities and our nation.

I Hear My King Calling
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
I Hear My King Calling

Karma Pedey, Professor, Norbuling Rigter College, in Kuensel (April 25, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Gelay Jamtsho)

I Hear My King Calling

The Bhutanese national character and the personality that sets us apart; the national consciousness and identity that so distinctly has become our own today, is the result of the unbending resolution and sharp vision of our kings.

Each era gave birth to a Dragon King as an antidote to the ills and adversities of the time. Each Druk Gyalpo has served a purpose higher than self; each answered the daunting calls of the nation.

When our Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck took over the helm, he embodied the continuity of the great Wangchuck legacy. With his all-embracing love and compassion, His Majesty personified our hopes and dreams.

Today, as the icy hands of Covid-19 grips the world, our king once again struck a deep chord in both the young and the old, as he rushed out to answer the country’s toughest call. Even as many mighty countries lie staggering and broken, we once again stand tall, unafraid and confident, daring to face this Covid-19 storm together.

The National Resilience Fund has provided shelter, created employment, relieved the burden of loan payment and touched the lives of each Bhutanese deeply, lifting their morale and optimism. If the country’s economy doesn’t serve the purpose of its people in times of their need, why have a strong economy, our king reasoned with compassion.

The battle is not over yet. We have heard the emotionally charged words of His Majesty, reassuring us yet cautioning us to remain alert to the possible pitfalls and dangers that can simply come from a careless person’s mistake which can undo everything we have achieved so far. This bids us to gather our heads and hearts to make a personal pledge to take full responsibility to align our efforts and behavior to our king’s efforts to beat Covid-19.