Monday, November 28, 2005

To impose or not

I've been enamoured with Bhutan ever since I saw the superb film Travellers and Magicians at the Pusan International Film Festival two years back, and took part in the question and answer session with the director - dressed in his monk's robes.

2년전에 부산국제영화제에서 매우 뛰어난 <여행자와 마법사>란 영화를 보고 (승님의 옷을 입는) 감독과 문답 회의에 참가했을 때부터는 부탄에 반했다.

Now here's something else to think about from the mountain kingdom.
여기 산맥에 있는 왕국에서 생각할 만한 게 일어났다.

Is it democratic to impose democracy? Can you choose not to choose your government? These paradoxical conundrums are usually confined to discussions involving drunken students and tiresome academics (or is that the other way round?). But now they have emerged for real in Bhutan, where the Wangchuk dynasty has ruled as an absolute monarchy since 1903.

The Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, announced earlier this month that he wants to give his people the gift of a democratically elected parliament. The trouble is, they don't want it. Where now they have a united country with a widely loved leader, they fear they will get a divided country with parties and factions pursuing their own interests. Looking at western democracies, they have a point.

So it seems whatever happens, the country will have a legitimacy gap. Keep the monarchy and the people will not have any choice about what policies their leader pursues; impose democracy and they will have been denied their choice of political
system. Whatever you choose, you have no choice.

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