Building on promises to bring change

Ugyen Dorji
Sonam Dorji

Lhakpa Tshering

With the campaigning for the third thromde elections in full swing in the three thromdes, candidates are busy churning out their best ideas and promise to woo the voters.

What is certain from the campaign is that the Thimphu Thrompon candidates described their manifesto and pledges as responsive to the face of ground realities that many people would welcome the fresh thinking and big reforms.

Among others, free water for all and to make the city resilient would see some of the boldest commitments, in the sense that things must change, considering the major challenges facing the most expensive city in the country.

But behind their tall claims and election campaign promises of the manifestoes, are they really serious about the problems that have long been associated with the thromde? When the thromdes goes to polls on 28 April, will it be voting for candidates from promises to performance?

Take a look at the views from the two Thimphu Thrompon candidates – Ugyen Dorji from Jungshina-Kawajangsa demkhong and Sonam Dorji from Dechencholing-Taba. The former thrompon Kinlay Dorji from Babesa demkhong did not respond to the questions saying he remains occupied.

Q. The thromde election campaign is now fully underway. At this juncture, do you feel your manifesto responds to the challenges of ground realities? If so, how and in what ways?

Ugyen Dorji: The theme of the manifesto is to make the city resilient through inclusiveness and good urban governance strategies, which in no doubt respond to the challenges of ground realities.

Sonam Dorji: Yes! I have 15 pledges and all are based on ground realities, most importantly made by people themselves. I have only listened to their dreams, hopes, and aspirations. So my pledges are their pledges, the number one priority being free water for all.

Q. Many observers feel that all three candidates’ manifestoes are similar and that there is not much diversity in the pledges for voters to choose from. Do you agree? Why and why not?

Ugyen Dorji: Yes and no as well. This is because it depends on how one judge and try to observe through their cognitive lenses. However, my pledge such as making Thimphu a digital city and well-coordinated city is unique and practical, which will help enhance the service delivery to create convenience, comfort and mitigate corruption. 

Sonam Dorji: If observers feel there are similarities in pledges, it is because Thimphu Throm’s problems are the same old problems such as water shortage, potholes roads, waste problems, sewerage problems, and so on. For the last one decade or so, even very basic fundamental problems such as water shortage are not resolved, which means Thimphu Thromde has failed to serve Thimphu Throm. 

Therefore, this election is about voting someone from the Throm to serve and not about voting failed Thromde back to Thromde. It’s about going for real change as we cannot afford to prolong Thim-Throm’s same problems anymore. People are losing hope. People must win this time. I offer last hope for real change.  

Q. There are possibilities of votes being influenced by the candidate’s personality and their relationship with the voters instead of looking at the manifestos and the real intent. Please comment.

Ugyen Dorji: To some extent, yes, but the way I came out to contest is totally based on people’s understanding of voting rights and trust by now to choose who can make the environment enabling and deliver the change we believe.

Sonam Dorji: Voting is a secret ballot and sacred duty of every citizen. People of Thimphu Throm are wise enough, in general, to vote for the right candidate who would serve them from the heart as Servant Leader and who would bring real change.

Q. Why should the people of Thimphu Throm vote for you in the forthcoming thromde elections? What is your strength, or trump card?

Ugyen Dorji: I am the right candidate for the job given the relevance in academic background and grounded experience. Therefore, I know the prevailing problems; understand people’s expectations and the solutions required. I am young; I am inspired, and I have a dream to listen to every resident and resolve their issues through innovation, energy, and teamwork.

Sonam Dorji: Time has really come for Thimphu Throm for real change. We cannot wait any longer. It is time to carve a new vision. I have a vision of “New Thimphu” that’s more liveable, sustainable, and inclusive for all residents. 

My pledges are also people’s pledges as I have made them by listening to people of all seven Demkhongs of Thimphu Throm. My strength or trump card is my true heart for our people. I have no other trump card. I want to be true to myself and I want to be true to our people. 

Q. Should the voters choose to elect you, what are your long-term goals for Thimphu thromde?

Ugyen Dorji: Voter should choose to elect me with the conscious of knowing the essence of democracy ‘The Change’ when a better choice is offered. In five years, I see Thimphu Thromde much better than today having achieved its full potential in social, economy, and environment through inclusivity.

Sonam Dorji: My long-term horizon is I have a vision for “New Thimphu” – Our Capital City that will be liveable, sustainable, and most importantly proudly inclusive for all Bhutanese. All my long-term goals would be towards a vision of “New Thimphu” that is truly liveable, sustainable, and inclusive. 

For example, I will focus on a clean, efficient, and high-tech water system. In the 21st Century, I believe, water is not only a basic essential service but also our fundamental human right. Water is non-negotiable for a liveable city. It will be our lifeblood under my vision of “New Thimphu.” 

Q. Where do you expect to see Thimphu Throm five years from now?

Ugyen Dorji: I will change the people’s perception to gain trust and confidence in Thimphu Thromde by delivering effective and efficient public services through digital connectivity and improved coordination with relevant stakeholders. And, make the city resilient to encounter the issues likely to pour out of population growth and urban development.

Sonam Dorji: If I were elected by people in this election, five years from now I expect to see Thimphu Throm as a “shining city” and not as a shanty town as it seems now.

Q. What are your messages for the people of Thim-Throm?

Ugyen Dorji: It is not ok to be ok and if you want to realize the change that we believe, I am your agent for it. Therefore, kindly vote for me to see Thimphu the way we want.

Sonam Dorji: Vote for real change. Vote for a vision of “New Thimphu”. Vote for your Servant Thrompon.