Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Nepal for Nepalis



Let's put our heads together on this one: New laws and practices for a New Nepal. Blogdai will start the show with ideas: some constitutional, some pragmatic, some very undemocratic, that could be useful in carving out a new system for Nepal. Add you own ideas in the threads and we'll post them here. No rules say you have to make the ideal Western-style democracy either. Let's make one with Nepali sensibilities for a change. Here we go:

TO FIX NEPAL:

1. Create, by constitutional ammendment, a permanent, impartial board that enforces transparency in all financial dealings of ministers. Government service should be looked upon as a duty and a priveledge. Take away the incentives to steal by keeping the money out of corrupt hands. Have this board monitor the movement of all money and property. Question any politician that undergoes a noticeable increase in personal wealth while in office.

2. Allow the presence of an independent mediation board. Perhaps a UN sponsored, or other third-party, group to break stubborn political impasses. Political parties can argue and posture all they want for, say, 30 days over an issue. If there is no concensus in that time, the independent board steps in for immediate mediation and resolution of the issue.

3. Ban all corrupt former officials from holding office. Keep the party system, but get rid of the Nepal's, Oli's, and anyone named Koirala.

4. Create a permanent liason committee charged with interfacing with the King. Keep him in the loop and informed. Hold regular press briefings on this interaction.

5. Restore Parliament with citizen, constituent representation. Seek an active legislative body made up of duly appointed representatives of every district in Nepal. No professional politicians here. You can't save Nepal without the involvement of everyone, so get your lazy government backsides out of kathmandu and listen to the voices of your countrymen for once; this is the way to do it.

6. Enact swift and severe punishment for those in the RNA who commit atrocities. You can't take the moral high-ground when your army is no better than the maoists. Train new RNA recruits on human rights issues.

7. Establish an office tasked with the management and unification of foreign aid in Nepal. The aid sector is a corrupt mess and is the root of most government corruption in Nepal. This office would develop a coherent theme for development. All foreign projects must pass through this office. No bribes or Pajeros allowed.

8. Re-establish full press and media freedoms. This time, enact strict libel and accuracy statutes. It's never been done, buy why not? Make journalists be able to prove what they assert under penalty of law. If the RNA is torturing someone, give the sources and photos. Call it the reader's "freedom of accuracy" statute.

9. Establish term limits for all elected officials. Four years ought to do the trick. Standardize their duties so new members don't waste time learning how to play government. A four-year term is just enough for a politician to do his job before he learns how to steal. It also keeps vilagers and city people alike involved in the political process because they have to pay enough attention in order to elect their best representatives each four years.

10. Ban elected officials from sponsoring any extra-governmental street demonstrations. Remove them from office if they are caught paying for a student protest. This will teach the bums to work through and respect the democratic process rather than throw a tantrum.

11. Tuck Paras away for a few years. Get him out of the public eye. It will help everyone heal.

Ok, now it's your turn. Add to this list, dismiss this list and supply your own, argue one or all of the points on this list, but get involved! Blogdai gets a lot of complaints about being cynical and crabby, so here's a chance to offer something practical for a change. Remember, your ideas don't have to stick with democracy. Pick anything that you think best fits the people of Nepal and their history and culture. Go!

-=blogdai

20 Comments:

At 7:11 PM, August 16, 2005, Anonymous Pithy said...

Too many committees.

 
At 8:02 PM, August 16, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Think of it as overdoing the checks and balances. These guys have no sense of responsibility and should be given none until they do the job right.

-=blogdai

 
At 8:05 PM, August 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

12. Ban any form of political activites in educational institutions. Educational institutions should exist only for education and nothing more.

 
At 10:56 PM, August 16, 2005, Anonymous MD said...

"4. Create a permanent liason committee charged with interfacing with the King. Keep him in the loop and informed. Hold regular press briefings on this interaction."

Its already there. The Council of Ministers. Talks between the king and the cabinet should never be public. This is one rule from the british system that works well in nepal or any other monarchy for that matter.

" 9. Establish term limits for all elected officials. Four years ought to do the trick."

Sounds good, but does not work. If the people are stupid enuf to vote for the same fool over and over again it is thier right to do so.

You could do it if it was only for the PM. Say no more than 3 term/15 years total. I don't realy like it but we could give it a shot and see what happens.

" Ban all corrupt former officials from holding office. Keep the party system, but get rid of the Nepal's, Oli's, and anyone named Koirala. "

It sounds good but again it would not be right. If they are guilty put them in jail. If not they have the right to run for election.

" 2. Allow the presence of an independent mediation board. Perhaps a UN sponsored, or other third-party, group to break stubborn political impasses. Political parties can argue and posture all they want for, say, 30 days over an issue. If there is no concensus in that time, the independent board steps in for immediate mediation and resolution of the issue."

I like this one. It should have mabe 12 members plus a chairman. The king should be the chairman.

The top six political parties in parliament should get to appoint one member each. The Chief justice should be a member. One member appointed by the king.

The last four members elected by the people but not at the same time as parliament.The members elected by the people cannot be or have been a member of a political party for at least 10 years. They cannot be members of parliament.

All decisions should be by majority vote. The king could vote only in the case of a tie. He could also decide not to vote even when there is a tie.

 
At 3:23 AM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" 9. Establish term limits for all elected officials. Four years ought to do the trick."
In Germany a party (The Greens) tried something similar, but failed. It was a too short time to really work you into some very complex material. And also - they didn't wanted to loose their experts every few years.
But I think there should be a limit for ministers an the PM - 8 years is enough! (Glad the USA have this - think about Bush beeing president for 15 or more years...)

 
At 4:37 AM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nepal has the chance to do it right the first time. OK, the second time. Blogdai, hats off to you for starting this dialogue here!

Term limits are essential to limiting corruption and allowing new blood into the process. How about a limit of two, four-year terms? This will allow junior members to learn the ropes their first term and be senior statemen/women the second.

MD, I am curious as to your reasoning about why term limits wouldn't work.

There must be some effective mechanism to prevent politicians from funneling dirty money outside of the country.

The transparency board (to alleviate corruption), the mediation/resolution board (to alleviate political impasses) and the liaison committee between King and govt are all excellent ideas.

In the US, the people have forgotten that corporations are chartered, and exist because the people allow them to exist. Corporations are not shouldering the cost of their actions (environmental costs, social costs, etc...). The taxpayers are shouldering these costs. I hope whatever govt arises, it will hold all corporations who elect to do business in a then stable Nepal, responsible for their actions, environmentally and socially.

Delighted with this thread.

Ramta

 
At 10:09 AM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Singh said...

blogdai - good start!

Couple of questions though. How strong is Nepali judiciary? Because here in India when things go out of hand the Courts have always had the final word and are fiercly independent.

And as far as monitoring deals is there equivalent of CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) which in India audits and holds accountable the govt and its dealings? This is also a very independent setup and on countless occasion we have seen them briging open issues which would have buried forever. They have even exposed the Army dealings - traditionally a holy cow when it comes to accountability.

So somethings may be already there, but as you say need to be strengthened or start from scratch.

Later
Singh@Chennai

 
At 10:26 AM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ya ya ..and put it also in the constitution that no more following India and its policies. good or bad its time nepal stood on it's feet. if switzerland can do it surviving on tourism why does Nepal have to run to India

 
At 11:00 AM, August 17, 2005, Blogger Scott Allan Wallick said...

Perhaps a provision that reads like,

X. The King/Queen, or other such divinely appointed power-holders, shall not f*** the country neither in whim, fancey, nor other facina, unless he/she can, prior to taking said action(s), publicly illustrate a qualifiable and quantifiable a plan of action, i.e., an intelligent modus operandi.

 
At 2:16 PM, August 17, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Yes, yes, ban student protests. Blogdai was thinking of this very thing for the initial list. I decided against it upon reflection towards the student protests in the U.S. in the 1960's. Now I realize that the U.S. protests were spontaneous political expressions, rather than the closely sponsored and funded events witnessed in Kathmandu. (C'mon have you ever found a Nepali college student with the money or the time to invest in an anti-"regression" protest?) That was the idea behind my point in the blog about political investment in such protests; ban the sponsors and the protests but not legitimate free expression. Now I agree that, perhaps we should ban it all for a while.

ON TERM LIMITS: Term limits accomplish two items that are essentially needed in Nepal: The substantial reduction of corruption, and increased citizen participation in the election process. If the same guy runs for office over and over, many people will be, as you say, stupid enough to vote for him over and over again. Term limits force people out of their "stupidity" by making them consider their choices rather than just going with the status-quo. I like term limits. A few more opinions like yours and we might just polish the idea up nicely. I will also concede to RAMTA's idea about two four-year terms. I am also beginning to see the light on keeping administration officials longer. Only elected officials with political collateral to gain or lose should be term-limited; thanks anonymous.

I'll compromise a bit on banning the crooks: Make them sign a "pledge of performance," say, that requires them to accomplish a minimum specified amount of actual public good, while keeping their financial and personal records open for scrutiny. Remember, these are the guys who didn't "get it" on how a democracy runs. If they are allowed to run again, they should be given a very short leash.

I may take some issue with the constituency of your mediation board. The idea behind all of these extra-governmental entities is to accomplish a complete supervisory detachment from the parties. This insures a greater level of fairness and objectivity. I would not staff any of these boards with party members.

SINGH, the Nepali court is relatively autonomous; they often conflict with party members and find them in contempt. I like the supreme court in Nepal. It will be stronger when the rest of the government has more faith and trust in its ability and doesn't openly rebel against its authority (see girija koirala). Can you tell us, what would the court in India do if it was openly defied by someone such as Koirala?

DAMMIT SCOTT! You have just touched on blogdai's number one point of frustration since February 1. G had one good idea followed by a sea of nothingness. He's clearly without a plan as you say. Is he clueless or has he merely crumbled under the weight of poorly-researched Western criticism?

More!

-=blogdai

 
At 8:40 PM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous PoliticalKanchha said...

I would like to comment on two issues:

CORRUPTION exists in Nepal not because our leaders are more corrupt than leaders in the West. Corruption exists in any country when the government has too much power to decide over people's lives. This is amplified when political leaders and bureaucrats do not get a salary that commensurates their position.

4-year limits will do nothing to curb corruption. Neither will harsher punishments. In China, some officials are hanged for accepting bribes. But corruption is still rampant. Putting Girija and Madhav Nepal in jail won't do a thing to stop this!

PROTEST is a form of expression. Freedom of expression is the fundamental precept in an open society. But this expression has its limits. One (or a group) must not be allowed to "express" themselves in a way that they threaten anothers existence. Forcibly closing businesses or chakka jams must not be allowed.

 
At 8:53 PM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Politicalkanchha said...

I forgot to bitch about my favorite topic - AID.

Foreign aid does little to help us solve our problems. If it does anything, it only allows our government to be lazier and our poor to settle for whatever we can beg from the world.

What we ought to do is to collect taxes (upto a reasonable limit, i.e. around 18-25% of their income). When taxes are collected, people start caring about how the government spends THEIR money. Only then will they ask for basic services (education, healthcare, and most importantly security) that the government ought to be providing.

Foreign aid only makes us dependent on other countries. It is also argued that money pouring from other countries raises inflation thereby making domestic businesses compete in the world market.

SAY NO TO AID!

 
At 2:23 AM, August 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well... G lost his plan after feb 1st and now in retrospect i dont blame him...i blame the three little pigs .. all three of them have had their photos out here in this blog at some time or the other...two come from either side of the atlantic..and one resides south. these three little pigs want their images as democratic nations to shine. they dont care about what happens in the villages of nepal as far as their concerned.. democracy is the end all solution to the worlds problems...sorry blogdai but your new consititution would need approval from the three lil pigs

 
At 7:23 AM, August 18, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

PK you and I are somewhat on the same page. We both want the currently lethargic citizenry to take a more active role in politics. I stick to my guns on term limits, but I think that some form of taxation is a great idea. People tend to wake up and take notice when they are getting hit in the wallet. How to implement this without causing mass anarchy? We already have sort of a VAT tacked on to purchases and hotels, so maybe and enhanced version of this is the way to go.

Absolutely agree on foreign aid. We not only have to eliminate it but also undo the damage that it has caused over the years. Blogdai favors aid that enhances skills and abilities that already exist in Nepal. Throwing money at an aid issue has helped to create a dependent culture of beggars.

We are starting to get more comments on banning protests across the board. Maybe we should discuss this more.

The three little pigs would all pretend to offer their approval; but in reality, they would rather just take the credit for anything that resolves this mess.

 
At 6:13 PM, August 20, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Ah, blogdai's occasional contact Kunda Dixit must be reading our blog.

In his "Under My Hat" column in this weeks's Nepali Times he takes some direct shots at blogdai's comments on Nepal not being ready for democracy.

The Nepali Times and Kunda Dixit are the Real deal: It is the mark of an ethical, research-oriented press outlet like the Times to follow all the Nepal blogs and comment responsibly as Mr. Dixit has done.

We love good, thought-backed criticism of our operations here at blogdai, so hat's off to Kunda and the Times.

Sorry about confusing you with Kanak, Kunda. (Readers: this was from a personal e-mail) I guess blogdai could use a lesson in background research from you guys.


-=blogdai

 
At 7:40 PM, August 21, 2005, Anonymous Out-on-a-limb said...

Blogdai,
I have appreciated Kunda's candor and sense of humor very much but can't say the same for his younger brother, Kanak. Kanak is a conniving character. He makes a trip south-of-the-border about twice a month and meeting up with unsavory characters of South Block and the Indian Intelligence outfits.

Being a Xavarian and a Columbia School of Journalism alumulus gives him much credence in the international media scene, and he's the type of personality one really needs to keep in check if we value our sovreignty and independence.

My two cents.

 
At 7:46 PM, August 21, 2005, Anonymous Out-on-a-limb said...

Alumnus bhanya...ke po lekhe-chu.

Jagadamba Maharani's jewels has come in handy for the Dixits very much.

I still wonder why Kanak and Co. still run their paper full of Surya Tobacco ads?

 
At 8:50 PM, August 21, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Duly noted and very interesting.

Blogdai played a bit of music on some land by a restaurant in Patan owned by the Dixits.

Yes, they both give off the scent of influence, but can we not deny the value of their commentary?

I do see your point however, and I wonder if the slight anti-monarchy bend in the Nepali Times isn't a reflection of some bitterness over the lost wealth and profits of administrations past.

Either way, let them keep talking. No one else seems to be saying anything relevant. Have you checked the other blogs? They're full of nothingness from the ranting spoiled sons of Koirala: pissed-off at the world and looking for their next payday.

-=blogdai

 
At 2:51 AM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well it took some time for it to surface ..but ya the dixit mafia in kathmandu...well kunda seems ok and sort of balanced [?]and kanak well he acts like he's the saviour of democracy..a bit too influenced by the weather south of the border.

 
At 4:27 AM, September 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who the f...the dixit family? Why we are talking about them in this dire situation. We should think neutrally, neither king's step is good nor maoist killing and leaders ruling in 14 years are good. All need to be blamed and think about new concepts.

 

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