Look in the mirrorPoliticians’ apathy towards public opinion puts our democratic dispensation at risk
The Cabinet on Sunday took another outrageous and contemptible decision. It decided to dole out largesse from the state coffers to a politician, who is perhaps among the richest people in Nepal, for medical treatment. Sujata Koirala, daughter of late Girija Prasad Koirala, is going to be given Rs5 million for her cancer treatment.
While we wish Koirala a speedy recovery, she is not among the people who have to depend on state handout for her treatment. According to doctors she is consulting, she will need four rounds of chemotherapy to treat her breast cancer and it will cost around Rs200,000 on average in private hospitals in Kathmandu to complete the treatment.
Koirala has chosen to undergo treatment in Singapore and that is her choice. But why should the public bear the cost of her expensive choice? The amount offered to Koirala can treat 25 people in Nepal with a similar condition. This naturally begs the question: why do politicians consider themselves to be above the public?
This latest decision of the Cabinet comes amid public outcry over the special treatment given by the state to our politicians and VIPs. This also goes against the guideline prepared by Health Minister Gagan Thapa limiting any assistance to Rs1.5 million.
It is a matter of terrible shame that Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba continue to disregard public opinion and do as they please. It is a tragedy that our politicians do not learn from events unfolding across the world. The recent victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton was largely a consequence of anger among voters that professional politicians are corrupt and that they only serve their own interests. In large part, the electoral mandate was for Trump’s announcement to clean the politics in Washington or “drain the swamp” as he puts it.
Trump’s victory underscores how the unremitting unethical behaviour of the professional political class forces the public to elect even a racist and sexist demagogue who may do more damage to democracy than the professional political class.
Continued insolence shown by Nepali leaders puts our democracy at risk. Our politicians who never tire of paying lip service to fighting corruption should begin by looking at themselves. Trump’s win and the Brexit vote should serve as reminders that the public can sometimes collectively take drastic measures.
As our top leaders continue to make a case for impeachment of Lok Man Singh Karki, chief of the anti-corruption agency, for his misconduct and for running a parallel government, decisions like Sunday’s lend credence to what the people already believe: key Nepali leaders themselves are hardly beyond reproach.