Mr Passang Tshering, aka PaSsu, a Bhutanese blogger wrote a letter on his blog about 2 weeks ago to Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan regarding his speech in Parliament, where Mr Khaw responded to Workers’ Party’s Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim that Bhutan is not the last “Shangri-La on earth”
In his letter PaSsu said:
I am only surprised that you have spend “Most of your time” in Bhutan looking in the fields. I am amazed at your ability to figure out whether the people are happy or unhappy just by looking at them- O’ you even knew they were “worried about the next harvest”…But since you questioned the presence of happiness in Bhutan, let me answer by telling you few things that you overlooked when you visited my country. Those people you saw in the fields weren’t unhappy, if you have gone closer you would have heard them singing and enjoying the social lives, perhaps you won’t understand that. If you have spent a little longer time watching them, you would have seen and a woman with basket on her back and holding arms with several children coming with steaming food- we don’t have McDonald or KFC. Then everybody will sit down to eat their lunch, laughing and joking, feeding babies, for over an hour- you wouldn’t have had so much time to sit and watch I know, times means money in your country. But we have luxury of time. People don’t worry “about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products.” In fact, we don’t do much commercial farming, we do most of them to keep with the tradition. And when the sun sets, doesn’t really matter what time, people leave for their homes where they have a large family waiting. Large family because we don’t chase away our children when they become 18 or children cast away their parents when they age.
We don’t need Health Insurance to survive, no have to go for Education Loan for educating our children. We don’t hang the drug users, we counsel them to hang on to their lives, we don’t have to have a job to survive, and when we fall sick even the furthest cousin comes to attend without having to update Facebook status…Bhutan may not be the Last Shangri-la but we are happy. (‘To Mr Khaw Boon Wan, what did your expect?’)
TOC got in touch with PaSsu and he gave us permission to reproduce his letter in full on TOC, but we decided that we will publish in full his response to Singaporeans who read and commented on his blog instead.
–from PaSsu’s blog–
Two weeks ago when Mr. Khaw made a conclusion about Bhutan I was disheartened. I thought he took away a wonderful friend from us because we count on Singapore when it comes to technological development. I knew his believes were his own yet I couldn’t deny that those words were spoken in the parliament. I just sat down and wrote a letter to him, fully aware that my words won’t make it anywhere near to him in this vast universe of information. After over ten normal days, suddenly my blog stats started shooting up like stop clock and comments came flooding in. At first it brought me immense joy and satisfaction as a blogger, my message made it through. When the hits shot over 45,000 I began to worry. What have I done?
I only wanted Mr.Khaw to know that we are happy and far beyond my intention it has gone viral, disturbing the minds of many Singaporeans. Many turned up to apologize on behalf of their minister and discussions were heated on many forums. In trying to convince him that we are happy I landed up making him unhappy, while I don’t regret my words I apologize for the unprecedented noise it made.
Our king and queen just visited Singapore and perhaps Singapore must have seen the very reflection of our simple happiness in the humility of our king . Over ninety positive Singaporean comments on my blog convinced me that they believe in Bhutan, that they believe in happiness, and that they are sorry about Mr. Khaw being cynical.
I am not used to so many comments on my blog therefore I am sorry I can’t reply to each one of you but I am very thankful that so many of you read my blog and took time out to leave your comments. I wish you happiness.
Thanks Kuenzang Thinley, for the wonderful Award.