Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Modernise the monarchy

The 1 June incident that took place in the royal palace, a place where only the King and members of the royal family were present. Before 1 June the royal palace was considered to be the centre of power, respect and authority. The 1 June incident changed all that and serious questions have now been thrown up. The question of security was one of them. Till now it was considered very safe for His Majesty to travel to all parts of the country and one never thought that royalty would be harmed in any way, but now it is not so anymore because security could not be guaranteed even within the palace walls. The issue of respect and social values is another issue. We share a very special type of relation with our parents, siblings and other family members. There are differences in a family but there is a lot of respect too. After 1 June the notion no longer holds, especially the traditional social values. Such was the incident that it was not even thought to be a possibility by our laws and regulations, especially the one governing the issue of succession. The constitution gives the powers of nominating the heir to the throne to the King. The accession law states that if the heir to the throne changes his religion, then he can no longer remain an heir. It would be the same if the heir does not follow tradition and marries someone considered not fit to marry royalty. The laws are silent about anything of a more serious nature.

Our elected representatives now have a problem on their hands-to ensure that the rights of the heir to the throne are properly safeguarded by the constitution. No one can disbar him nor take away his rights. The constitution clearly states that it is possible to remove a King if he is mentally or physically unfit to rule but the constitution is silent when it comes to the same issues relating to the heir. ... Therefore all rules and laws concerning the heir to the throne have to be carefully revised and changed. The existing laws seem incomplete on this issue, plus they have serious in-built flaws. Since the laws do not address the needs of the times, people are not taking them very seriously or do not understand the gravity of the situation. That 1 June incident was very unexpected but it has raised fundamental questions, which have to be answered if we do not want that same type of situation to be repeated.

Now because questions have been raised we have to act responsibly and make sure that the appropriate changes are made. Fundamental changes have to be brought about because the constitutional monarchy is here to stay, but we have to modernise it and move ahead with the times. It is stupid to even think about ending the institution of monarchy. We have to make sure that it is strengthened and is provided with full security. It is also important that the palace brings about changes in its behaviour and also moves with the times.

A child who was six at the time of the restoration of democracy in 1990 is now a young man of 18. In the same way, a person who was 18 at that time is now 30. Let us for a moment study and analyse Nepalis who are now 30 years or less. Let us analyse their behaviour, their thinking, and their ways of life. Let us study the changes that have come about in their behaviour. We can ignore the inspirations of many that may have reached the twilight of their lives but can we silence people who are just 30 or below all the time? Do they not require answers to all the questions in their minds?

A lot of issues have to be properly dealt with for making constitutional monarchy stable and strong. The shortcomings in the laws, especially on issues concerning the heir, have to be dealt with properly... Therefore why should parliament not have an active role in bringing about changes that are required? Or else can anyone guarantee that the 1 June type of incident will not re-occur? We have to take precautions. And doing that is the responsibility of the representatives of the people. Only then can we have a monarchy that is cared for and respected by its people, and one which will last.

People wanting to bypass or postpone the issue raise questions such as, \'the people's representatives are not strong, are not mature, don't have political will, are not honest, are not responsible, etc.,' and therefore cannot be trusted. What we must not forget is that despite everything the solution lies with the people. Also the system of elections every five years allows the people to influence the decisions their representatives make. After the investigation commission presented its report, the Nepali Congress passed a resolution which attempted to encompass all the changes that it thought were needed to be brought about. It was along the line of giving people the right to provide security and continuity to monarchy, for which the government has to bring about fundamental changes in policy, legislation and actions. Something else needs to be done to facilitate the monarchy to move along with the times. Elected officials were unable to get proper information on the 1 June incident because existing law and rules did not have the space for that to happen, or space for them to help find out what was going on. Our nation, instead of moving forward from such a state, seems trapped in a time warp going back in history. Therefore there are two important points that have to be taken care of: first parliament has to make laws and regulations concerning succession, and second the laws must give parliament the right to set down rules on the acceptable behaviour of the heir to the throne.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)