Better late than never

  • The government should clarify its engagement with the United Peace Federation
- KUSHAL POKHAREL
The government is insistent on justifying its participation in the Asia-Pacific Summit in Kathmandu despite public fury

Dec 20, 2018-

Despite ongoing discussions on the state’s controversial decision to host the Asia-Pacific Summit in Kathmandu, the government is hell-bent on justifying its participation despite public fury. In a press conference held recently, our Foreign Minister has reiterated the significance of hosting such summits in Nepal to enhance the glory of Nepal in the international arena. This has further exposed the intentions of the government and its dismissive attitude towards public opinion.  

The incident—yet another event contributing to the deteriorating image of the most powerful government in the history of Nepal’s politics—generated a heated debate in the country due to the unruly involvement of the government in an INGO-managed program. And it’s not only the opposition parties who are condemning the government; the Prime Minister’s (PM) own party has expressed serious reservation regarding the nature of engagement.  

Moreover, the acceptance of an award worth $100,000 without the consent of the cabinet and the party has come as a disobeyance of the law that requires the PM to get the former’s consent before receiving such honours. At a time when corruption and unaccountability have heightened in the country, it is ironic for the country’s premier to receive an award under the category of ‘Leadership and Good Governance’. 

Organised by the United Peace Federation (UPF)—the founder of which has a tainted history of tax fradulence, fund embezzlement and criminal offences—the summit attracted a huge number of political party leaders from the region including lawmakers, civil society members and religious leaders. 

Aside from tall promises on plans to promote global peace and development, , the summit didn’t make any significant breakthroughs in promoting any kind of global peace, development and fraternity.  

The question of State sovereignty has become pertinent in this case. According top priority to the summit, the government representatives and their party leaders participated with great enthusiasm, bypassing the universally accepted norms and principles of state authority. While they engaged in the affair, the general public suffered from transportation issues due to the introduction of the odd-even license plate number system, a decision which was backtracked later amid mounting public pressure.  

 Sending circulars to around 1,500 local government chiefs to attend the summit,   the   government laid undue emphasis to the conference. With the government spending a hefty sum of money on the affair (Rs 20 million), taxpayer money has clearly been misused.   Moreover, the news of the PM temporarily shifting his residence from his quarter to the hotel for the summit raised suspicions—some former diplomatic officials of Nepal have considered this move as a flagrant violation of the diplomatic protocol. 

In the past, several attempts were made by UPF to host this summit in Nepal. Evidenced by a former foreign minister of Nepal in the aftermath of the summit, the undue interest of the organisation to promote its ideals can generally be inferred. What is noticeable here is that UPF has already invested a huge sum of money in sponsoring foreign trips to our president, prime minister, ministers, lawmakers and influential political leaders from other parties. More importantly, various awards and recognitions have been conferred to them in the form of cash. Amid heightening criticism of the government for delaying justice in Nirmala’s case, the event has further added woes to the cabinet.  The affair is really an unfortunate situation and a matter of shame for the country. 

Given that, rather than continuing to stay mum on the issue, the government should clarify its engagement in such engaging in programs like the Asia Pacific Summit. And more importantly, rather than lauding the event weeks after such debates have taken place, the government should address the public’s concerns. 

Taking some time for self-reflection, the PM should direct his efforts towards regaining the waning public faith. Better late than never ought to be the motto as the leftist government inches closer to its first anniversary.

 

Pokhrel is a faculty of Contemporary Politics under the BA Liberal Arts Program of Purbanchal University.

 

Published: 20-12-2018 07:04

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