28 Oct - 3 Nov 2016 #831

Who defeated us?

Translated excerpt of Nepali Congress MP and Health Minister Gagan Thapa in Parliament, 26 October

Bikram Rai

Honourable Speaker,   A few months ago, crusading physician Govinda KC demanded impeachment of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Chief Lokman Singh Karki. KC accused Karki of overstepping his mandate, abusing his power and promoting irregularities in the medical and other sectors.

Whether we needed to impeach Karki may be the subject of debate, but we should have discussed it in Parliament because the accusations against Karki were serious enough and substantiated by proof. So I registered a motion of public importance in Parliament, but the House did not discuss it.

Why not? I don’t want to dwell on it now. What I would like to dwell on is a blunder made by the top leaders of the major parties that recommended Karki as the CIAA Chief (in 2013). We were opposed to Karki, and cautioned our party President Sushil Koirala against appointing him. Koirala agreed, and said he would not give his nod to Karki’s appointment. We then met President Ram Baran Yadav who also assured us that he would not approve Karki’s appointment. But the next day, Karki was appointed head of the anti-graft body.

We asked them why. They said it was beyond their power to stop Karki’s appointment, and they were tired and defeated. We asked them: defeated by whom? We are still asking: who defeated our political leaders? Unless they reveal who forced them to change their minds on Karki, and why they cannot overpower this unseen force, we will always be defeated no matter how many times we write our constitution.

The issue is not about Karki, but about our sovereignty and whether we are able to make decisions on our own. I hereby declare that I will support the impeachment motion against Karki.

Honourable Speaker,

Karki’s appointment as the CIAA Chief was wrong, but we could have probably refrained from questioning it if he had honestly fulfilled his duty and responsibilities. The 157 MPs had to register the impeachment motion against Karki in a hurry, so they could not chronicle all of Karki’s wrongdoings in their proposal. They have included only a few examples.

We have heard and read about J Edgar Hoover, the founding director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Karki chose Hoover’s path, but we took a very long time to break our silence over his tyranny. Why were we afraid of him? Was it because we are also involved in corruption and we feared that Karki might go after us?

Some MPs are wary of the impeachment motion. They are suspicious that it might break unity among political parties and jeopardise efforts to amend the Constitution. But were we really united before this motion was filed? Is it not the same House where we broke chairs and furniture? Some of us are not even on talking terms. So this motion could be the beginning of a new unity among us. If we all support it, it will bring us together on the Constitution. It will not affect the amendment process.

Those who registered the motion need not brag about it. And others who dithered also need not feel like they didn’t act on time.