The clampdown of Karaokes

After snubbing the Drayang business earlier this year, the government, spearheaded by the Thimphu Thromde, is now on a mission to stifle the Karaoke business in the country.

The move comes after the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) reported that Karaokes and Live Music outlets were operating like Drayangs despite the government compensating all Drayang owners to pull the shutters and opt for other more decent businesses.

RAA recommended that operations of all Karaoke and Live Music in the country should be suspended under a moratorium and operation should be re-opened only after careful scrutiny of all technical requirements for places of entertainment and upon fulfilling all requirements as per the SOP which needs to be developed.

The business owners were given until 30th November this year to make changes and until then the business would have to be suspended.

The RAA report further stated that the modus operandi adopted by these businesses  in soliciting money from the customers were strikingly similar in terms of exposure to risks and vulnerabilities of sexual exploitation. Therefore, the intent of closure of Drayangs have failed and the compensation scheme grossly misused.

The RAA team had observed that requests were now made through sale of lottery tickets and women entertainers asking for expensive imported drinks from customers while it added that the lapses were due to weak monitoring from the agencies responsible.

RAA also stated that the Entertainment Licensing Committee under the Dzongkhag and Thromde’s jurisdiction should also be held accountable as they had failed in monitoring the actual ground situation after licenses were issued.

Further, the regional office at the economic affairs’ ministry had issued licenses without ensuring minimum technical requirements based on the recommendation of the Thrompon. There were businesses in Thimphu which did not have valid licenses.

As there were no SoPs in place some businesses were said to have been functioning like a draying in the guise of Karaoke or Live music joints while improper or weak monitoring led to the blossoming of such trades.

Looking at the ensuing developments, it bears all the hallmarks of the proverbial “too many cooks spoiling the broth” as there were many agencies involved in the whole operation while none of them took up the monitoring part seriously.

And, even as the dust of the Karaoke and Live music freeze order is yet to settle, the finger pointing game would have already begun among the many stakeholders as none would like to get muzzled in situations like this.

But what if the RAA had never reported of the scenario and brought these realities to the limelight? Would these so-called stake holders brushed aside these facts and put the matter under the rug? Would the drama at the Karaoke and Live music joints continued?

When too many agencies are involved in a simple matter like issuing entertainment licenses and monitoring them, such things are bound to happen with agencies believing that the other counterpart will do it and vice versa.

And, it is one of the primary reasons why getting a simple business licenses takes ages as there many stakeholders involved but who have no clear mandates to function.