Regional Revenue and Customs
Sub: Mr Kuenzang Thinley, Customs Officer, Regional Revenue and Customs Office, Paro
First up I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Jurmi Chhowing and I work for the weekly paper The Journalist as the paper’s Chief Editor.
This letter is more of a plea to your good judgment and acumen, and the need to clarify the position in which Mr Kuenzang Thinley finds himself embroiled.
Needless to say, I was absolutely surprised, shocked, disheartened and after a long contemplation, still find myself pondering where Mr Kuenzang Thinley went wrong. First up, if you will allow me, I’d like to make the clarification that the letter, which was printed in the 21.6.’11 edition of The Journalist was done so at my personal behest and without the knowledge or permission of Mr Kuenzang. Here the norm is to inform and ask writers and authors outside the paper requesting and seeking permission for publications. In this light, I took the liberty because I had already run about seven articles of Mr Kuenzang from the writing group on Facebook called Blogyul. Any material that is published in that page is selected for eventual or instant publication in The Journalist. The page in the paper itself is called Blogyul. The idea is provide a platform for writers, and encourage people with writing aspirations to write with as much professionalism as possible. Mr Kuenzang is an invaluable member of that movement and the goals are, to say the least, very noble. After he started posting his writings via his blog
I was drawn by the nature and the language of his stories: of human interest, well balanced, thoughtful, contemplative, and always with a positive bent of mind and hence, providing nurturing food for thoughts regarding the well being of our King, Country and the People.
To me, Mr Kuenzang is the kind of person that personifies everything that is good and wholesome about the Bhutanese and Bhutan as a nation. Never have I read an article of his with any vested or hidden agendas; not even a subtle reference. If anything, his writings evoke inspiration, positivity, optimism and that belief that drives us all to forget the bad and continue doing what is good. In a word, Mr Kuenzang’s writings evoke “Hope” – something we can all use in what is an increasingly cynical age driven by personal egos and public hoodwinks. The letter that caused your offices inconvenience was an invitation made by the Prime Minister himself: to write to your respective MPs was the Pam’s message. In person, and in public too, the PM agrees that the Tobacco Control Act was imbalanced, as far as crime and punishment is concerned.
In that letter written by Mr Kuenzang and published by The Journalist, the contents are anything but antagonistic. I personally see that letter as the best and most articulated point of view written thus far on that controversial tobacco act. The letter pervades and peruses the act in the finest of journalistic traditions – morality, balance, factuality, and most pertinently, the well-reasoned and eloquent points with enriching points of wisdom.
The impact the letter had was tremendous. There was not a single negative comment or feedback on that article, on the contrary, the letter inspired many to do the same. Hence more people are writing today to their representatives than before. And the credit of such a positive interaction and communication between the representatives legislating laws on our behalf and the direct participation of people via their respective constituencies cannot be overstated. It is the basis of democracy itself, engaging in fruitful dialogue and bridging the apparent gap and gulf between the citizen and his elected representative.
Besides that particularly beautiful letter, Mr Kuenzang’s writings present values and traditions that should be conserved and encouraged, specifically keeping in mind the fact that some 60% of our population fall under the age of 24. This demography will reap rich dividends from people such as Mr Kuenzang. The impact of the written word is often intangible, but in terms of its power to change attitudes, the written word is unparalled, as it stays lodged somewhere deep in our consciousness.
I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy his writings. But it was indeed very disheartening when he announced on that Facebook Blogyul page that he might delete his blog and stop writing altogether. This will be such a pity. His Majesty the King himself is an artist and a writer, not to mention a voracious reader. Recently His Majesty granted an audience to freelance writers – the guidance was simple, His Majesty encouraged them to keep writing. As for civil servants being disallowed from writing, may I inform your good self that one of my regular contributors, Tashi Pelyang Kasha (An Officer with the Monastic Body Who is a Regular Columnist for The Journalist), who was also at the audience, was given a handsome Soelra by His Majesty for the article To His Majesty the King: In Tribute in last Sunday’s edition of The Journalist. Needless to say, his will to write better has soared to the skies.
This same message has been voiced several times by the PM too. He was surprised when we asked him about civil servants writing. “They can write” was what he said. We reminded the PM that the BCSR does not allow free expressions (although the constitution guarantees, as your good self would know, the freedom of expression and the Right to Information). The reason I’m citing the above is also simple: as long as the articles are not detrimental or compromising in any way, shape or form to the national interest, in my case I take the self-responsibility of selecting articles that do not prove sensational or with intent to cause malice, but rather in that romantic hope that people will change for the better; that more youngsters will read and write knowing the power of the pen, and do so with as much prudence, sensitivity and reasonability as possible.
The article by Kuenzang paying tribute to a teacher called Golden Moments: From the Table of a Retired Lopen was personally lauded by the Education Minister in a letter of appreciation he wrote to The Journalist, in effect to Mr Kuenzang as he was the author. Another beautiful article penned by Mr Kuenzang is Welcome to the Family: a Son’s Recollection of His Parents’ (Mis) Fortunes. It is quintessential Bhutanese tale, with sacrifice, family bonds, external and societal pressures, modernization and the pros and cons of such changes sweeping our country as we speak.
It was a beautiful account of what an average Bhutanese family faces, and universal in its theme of love, sacrifice, career, family and trying to better one’s own character; becoming a better person in the process.
I cannot stress enough how valuable a contribution Mr Kuenzang is making through his ability to express experiences into words and stories that I believe inspires and makes the reader do a retrospection of his own morals and dilemmas. If Mr Kuenzang stopped writing altogether because of this single “letter,” I cannot emphasize enough what a huge loss that would be. To himself as writing comes naturally to him and he has an innate sense of choosing the most relevant topics; for him to drop writing would be an injustice to himself and every person that could otherwise derive inspiration from his writings.
Sir, this is my personal plea to your innate goodness – please consider the many valuable contributions he ahs made, for to lose him for a single article would be tantamount to telling a student who has failed in one subject to altogether discontinue his education.
And may I also suggest, on a personal note, what a warm human being Mr Kuenang is… for it’s that inherent goodness embedded within that flows when he writes.
Here are the links to Mr Kuenzang Thinley’s published articles that have featured in The Journalist for your kind perusal.
1. A letter to Member of Parliament, Bumthang
By Kuenzang Thinley - Bumthang, Ura, Shingkhar
Of the many agencies involved in the successful implementation of the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010, my department has always been in the forefront. ...
2. The law making process looks less reasonable and more experimental
By Kuenzang Thinley
THE PROCESS gained its momentum when our venerated monarch, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, further went on to strengthen the political system in the country in 1980 and 1990
During my entire service, I have always tried to give the best I had in me to my students
By Kuenzang Thinley
Going back to my origin, I wasn’t a person who was born with silver spoon...
By Kuenzang Thinley
I have built numerous houses both in my locality and afar. Some of my finest craftsmanship is today visible in the beauty of Tango monastery in Thimphu...
By Kuenzang Thinley
At the national level, 2011 year will be remembered more for the Tobacco Control Act 2010, sentencing a person to prison...
6. I am Chath Dorji also known as the phallic man of Shingkhar
By Kuenzang Thinley
Shingkhar is some 3800 meters above sea level. I am Chat Dorji of Shingkhar. I’m not so sure where I descended from, but my neighbors and friends consider...