Monday, March 3, 2014

The Revelation in FCB Case

During an informal dinner with my old classmates yesterday in Phuentsholing, I bumped into one of the journalists who had been trying to cover FCB scandal. Our casual conversation about the case revealed that there is a huge corporate scandal behind sugar and rice missing from FCB. From this perspective, the  shifting of ultimate financial obligation from the corporation itself to helpless individual and the FCB CEO, shamelessly walking as if nothing has ever happened is nothing short of case study for Government and corporate bodies to ponder upon. How did this society give birth to such a fascist????
If it were anywhere around the world, the CEO should have resigned on moral grounds but here we are, facing a not-so-gentleman. Looks like he is waiting for his skin to be tanned till the last inch with  corporate misgivings. So many employees are being threatened, moved , treated unfairly just in the  name of change.
There is a deep revelations of fraud, deception and outright robbery by senior management and this has not only frightened the staff but has also now disgusted the  public while galvanizing government and the FCB Board members  into belated displays of severity with corporate wrongdoing.
It may not sound significant, but there is a demand for such scandals be prevented in future as good corporate governance become another parallel culture. In particular the role of corporate boards of directors - too often revealed by scandal to have been inattentive at best or complicit at worst in the misdeeds of management - has come in for highly critical scrutiny. It calls for investigators, journalists, thinkers and decision makers about the kind of people we put at the helm.
Have we done ourselves any good?????

Monday, February 3, 2014

Of Bhutanese Labour Law and Its Toothless Bite

Last week, the National Council Members debated on ways to give Labour Ministry the teeth it required by instituting a tribunal to look at the cases and resolve it amicably.  This comes after seven years of having Labour Law passed in the parliament.

The National Council Reasoned in Kuensel, “Without a labour tribunal, the labour and human resources   ministry (MoLHR) is confronted with serious challenges in ensuring adherence to laws with regards to labour issues . The labour tribunal was expected to offer quick, informal and inexpensive way of settling disputes between employees and employers.”

Out of the many cases that was left unresolved, my father’s case was one of them. The Regional Employment and Labour Office, Phuentsholing, made every effort to get it resolved. After through investigations, they issued letter to Chief Executive Officer of   Food Corporation of Bhutan to pay all the benefits.

However, it only took one call from their Director to mess up everything. This shows that there is no need for Tribunal or Set procedures if months of investigations and law at hand is not put to proper use. The Labour Ministry made mockery of themselves in the eyes of people like me who have been seeking justice for the past many many months. My analysis about the labour Ministry is that, it is more of stumbling block than the solution. If the Labour Ministry, as custodian of Labour Law cannot uphold the Labour, it has little meaning in its existence. So the concept of Labour Tribunal may be another layer of bureaucratic procedure that will act as  stumbling block to delay justice.

I believe that Law is not an invention of the strong to chain and rule the weak, nor is it an invention of the weak to limit and hold back the strong. It has two objects: to define and restrain wrongdoing, and to guide the simple.

To guide those who are unfortunately lacking in this positive morality, and to protect society and our freedoms, we have developed over the centuries a system of rules. These rules, the outgrowth of man's experience with life, respect the right of men and women to live their lives as they desire, provided they do not trespass on the rights of others.
From the earliest days of mankind, we have sought justice, and generation after generation has started the search anew.
What seems wholly just to us today is likely only the merest pinpoint of what we should see if we were to shift our point of view. Our justice would appear full of faults were we to climb a little higher so that we might compare it with what we shall call justice tomorrow.
There is nothing in the law which we cannot understand if we seriously desire to do so.
There have been irrational things done in the name of building a code of law, but one cherished theory running through all attempts is that law tries to achieve justice.
"Under shelter of the law" are key words. Our greatest danger is crime, which is made up of breaches of law and order, offences against individuals, and offences against families, communities and country. If we have no security of life, liberty and property, built upon a firm national structure, we run the danger of our democracy falling in pieces.
While one of the virtues of law is that it shall be constant, so that what was right yesterday shall be right today, there are great numbers of jurists giving attention not only to what the law is but also to what the law should be. Law must be considered in relation to the circumstances within which it operates.
Our social progress, due to many factors such as technology, increased population, and rising standards of living, demands that the law shall not lag too far behind the changing conditions that accompany it. Our law represents what we consider proper at this moment, and a half—century from now the law of Bhutan will likely be substantially different from what it is today. Perhaps we are like the Athenians of whom the great law—maker Solon said when asked if his laws were the best: "I have given them the best they were able to bear."
 The justice we mean is not the kind that refers merely to the treatment given a person who breaks the law. We are not going to look down a narrow corridor of legal thought to where a cold marble Justice sits blindfold, with a sword in her right hand and scales in her left.
Justice is more than an instinct for preservation, more than a product of our reason, more than a sentimental force. Once in a while we startle ourselves when our unconscious thought brings us face to face with a revelation of justice.
The precepts of legal justice are these: to live honourably, to injure no other man, to render to every man his due.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ethical Dilemma and Food Corporation of Bhutan

Just as Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies took helm to train world class leader in Bhutan, I am left determined to ask some pertinent questions that has been chiseling my mind for very long time to one of the privileged candidates of RIGSS, the Chief Executive Officer of Food Corporation of Bhutan. The question concerns ethics in business and moral responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of one of the oldest companies in Bhutan.   
I bring forth this question because I could not keep quiet and it concerns ethical issues which touches the depth of human nature.  As a writer, I have always sought for refuge in my conscience. After having tolerated the swamp for very long time, I thought there are million reasons to ponder upon this case.
Mr. Champay joined the service of FCB in March 1975 after completing class IX from Tashigang Central School. On August 31st, 2012, he reached superannuation age of 58 years and completed 37 years of service. As per the FCBL Service Rules and Regulations, employees superannuate at the age of 58 years. Given his good track record and very long service, the FCB Management re-employed him on contract basis after his superannuation for a period of one year with approval from the FCB Board of Directors. There were two people who joined the service and superannuated around the same time. They were both retained by the management on contract for a year with approval of the Board. The other person was Sherman Rai, Regional Manager at FCB in Samdrup Jongkhar.
However, Mr. Champay’s contract was terminated six months prior to expiry of contract period without giving proper reasons. While his friend was retained for full period and was paid off all terminal benefits, Champay was denied his benefits for reasons FCB management knows best. Subsequently, the FCB management showed shortages in stock of sugar, rice and oil to the tune of 2.6 Millions. A complete anatomy of the FCB process and system showed that the shortages were actually created by the management by manipulating the system at the backend and by endorsing fake multiple invoices for single consignment.Later we were able to understand why FCB management had retained  his terminal benefits like pension, PF and gratuity. It was to cover up for the shortages that the management created by manipulating the system. They had plotted against Champay knowing fully well that he was eligible to get benefits.
What shocked me was an attempt by the management to suppress and misrepresent the material facts. Instead of carrying out independent investigations, FCB management was involved in threatening the employees not to pass on the  information. The management went to the extend of grossly lying the authorities and law enforcement offices.It is  shameful to note that management can  blatantly lie to its own governing Board without a slightest guilt despite the fact that truth is so obvious. 
An attempt by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources to solve the issues did not materialize because FCB management  refused to abide by the labour laws. Now I have started to wonder if FCB management is above the law. Law has been passed by National Assembly and not by FCB's Board of Directors. And it is the responsibility of every individual and entities to follow due process of law. Similar case has erupted with Customs. The FCB management took advantage of RRCO Regional Director’s membership in the Board to waive off the penalty being imposed by the custom officials to the tune of Nu. 2,63,000. There arises the conflict of interest. If management was not guilty of endorsing fake documents, they should not be bothered of the penalty levied by relevant authorities. On what basis RRCO RD waived off the penalty is not only against the norms but also clearly shows conflict of interest as Board Director. 
The FCB management did everything to block fair investigations by independent authorities. They tampered with contract and official  documents and favoured few handfuls. Cronyism and nepotism was practiced in open. A person with tainted history took front seat and interestingly, that tainted guy was a member of disciplinary committee also just because of his unknown connection with the management. People worked in constant fear of being terminated without benefits. How do we judge such company? We are talking about 21st century world and a company which at one point of time was premier institution involved in making differences in the lives of thousands of Bhutanese people. Where did it go wrong? We are talking about management who has been entrusted to operate a company that has social mandates.
Isn’t there something called ethics in the mind of FCB management  which takes notice of the lessons of the past, the desires of other people, and the consequences of actions?  Was there ever an element of  prudence, thoughtfulness, practice of the lawfulness?
I think John Dewey was right in saying , "If the standard of morals is low it is because the education given by the interaction of the individual with his social environment is defective."
Business entities survive on the goodwill of the people and society. The very fact that the company operates with the goodwill of the people necessarily makes company responsible to behave in the manner best desired by people waiting to be served not just the product but quality of services. It must have taken 38 years for FCB to create a brand for itself but now a self conceited management has ruined not only its name but its future. Ethical management brings  more profits to business because it establishes a reputation for honesty and for fair dealing beyond the necessities of the law that  has a business asset of great value and profit.
Crude cheating was outlawed in civilized countries long ago. The mass approval of fair dealing, and the withdrawal of patronage from unethical staff will steadily effect upon the improvement of morals in business.
This is a crucial point for FCB. It is  time to show the essential fairness. Society and community will advance and it is only natural that thousands of people like me will hold Government companies like FCB accountable and responsible  to the public. Within the purview of law, Business entities or an individual can look eye on eye and no one, whether CEO or otherwise can delve to treat other people as inferior. A company cannot be run on the basis of CEO's personal ego nor is it wise for a company to give space to cronyism. There are honest people out there making living from decent works they perform daily. They have living to make. I believe that I live in a civilized society  today where there are laws to respect.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wonderful Soul....wonderful people

Sonam Tshomo and her husband Karma Losang have been supporting three orphans for ages now. Today, one of the children, Tshering Deki, got her first paycheck. She kept just one thousand and deposited all others into Sonam Tshomo's account as a mark of gratitude. Sonam and her husband themselves are out of country at the moment and do not know that their accounts have fattened not by one paltry paycheck but with gratitude. She was thoughtful enough to buy me a pair of stocking. Oh!!!! how did she know that there was a toe-hole in my stockings lol????? 

Tshering Deki is the eldest of three children who survived the tragic road accident sometimes in 1990s. She was a child herself then and carry faint memories of her  parents. I remember my friend Sonam Tshomo making fuss as she did school shopping every year. Afterall children are children and they have their own whims and fancies, choices and dream, innocence and emotions...even I have and that also in bigger measure....and that Sonam  realised it soon enough. 

Her husband Karma Losang made things much better for children. They have much happier memories with their patrons. Tshering Deki completed her engineering from CST and joined Punatsangchu. Two  of her siblings will be lined up for work very soon.  Hope they will keep  Sonam's head high like that of rooster. Sometimes, I envy people.

Well, some stories are plain and simple.....  but my day has been made. Wonderful soul, wonderful people.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Art of Acceptance

...Ata Chedup is an interesting character. he studied upto class 5 .He has three school going children. During mid term exams, he asked his children to study. The children tested him by asking him to teach them things that they didn't understand. When his children got their papers, they realised that whatever their father taught was all wrong so they complained to their father that he was useless. Ata Chedup who was drinking beer that time turned emotional and started to flaunt his broken english, " when father not eating, what he vomiting...."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dreams Without Corridors....

“One day my son asked me what I was….whether I was Batman, Spiderman, Ironman or Superman….I said I was Common man. He had never heard about common man so it was natural for him to ask what common man costume looked like. I am sure he must have fancied some kind of costumes letting muscles ooze out of bare thighs and arms. And when I told him that common man wears pyjama and has only beer belly to show, he went into some kind of thinking for some moment. When he finally spoke, he said, “Can common man buy me Wii?” Well, I guess this is the problem with common man. We only have imaginations and not money....

We get caught in another man's plot. We run from one authority to another looking for refuge. We beg for help.

Sometimes, we are left with choice, whether to buy petrol or to buy vegetables.  We put petrol because it concerns our dignity. No one would know that our curries have become tasteless for want of onions and cheese.  We have long road map to follow and when we are nearer to achieving it, someone just moves it elsewhere effortlessly.

This is common man and he has  lifetime to act for himself....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

...and this is the story

. . . Oh! there once was a tree. And also there once was a huge rock. They lived for many years together. Tree believed that he was greatest because he was about to touch the sky. Rock believed that he was greatest because he had lived millions of years and was as old as the earth itself. They quarreled sometimes trying to prove themselves the greatest. Then one day in 21st century,a contractor arrives. He looks at the tree and also at the rock. Then he goes and comes back with powerchain, drilling machine and some explosives. The next day, tree is heading for sawmill and the rock is heading for crusher.

Monday, April 8, 2013

I believe in legend...

Anitha Santhi is an Ecological Scientist originally from Kerela. She is the main force behind Tamil fishermen and villagers opposing the construction of nuclear power project in  Tamil Nadu. Her book titled NO, which can be seen in her hands not only moved millions to oppose the project but also created  tides of supporters among natives and non-natives, Indians and non-Indians, writers and readers, etc.

Such is the force of dedication, selflessness  and expertise. I have all the respect for this unsung legendary lady.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I was really moved by this story

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "Tha...t laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I have a dream too....

...I am planning to organise creative carnival where writers, crab writers, artists, copyartists and creative people can showcase their works. Since Phuentsholing will be pleasant during Winter, I wish to do it here. I chose winter because children will be on holidays and many people will be in Phuentsholing during that time. The writers and artists can also have more than enough time to prepare. This is an opportunity for Bhutanese writers and readers, artists and art enthuasts, sponsors and buffs, asses and muses, critics and summary for all to come together. I will need people to help me cordinate. If possible, we will try to take in few international writers also. School text books and guidebooks will not be entertainment.