Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sonam Tshering

Bhutan PM warns against protests over tobacco law - Channel NewsAsia

Imagine people upset over such harsh treatment that they might rise up.

Imagine people so upset by the idea that they might try to create "hysteria" where none exists.

That people are upset enough to discuss this on blogs or on Facebook should send someone a message.

 Bhutan's prime minister warned against demonstrations and "attempts to create hysteria" on Monday over a monk jailed for three years for breaking the Himalayan country's strict anti-smoking laws.

Writing in the Kuensel daily newspaper, Jigmi Y. Thinley said that he felt sorry for the 23-year-old convict, Sonam Tshering, and hinted that the legislation might be reviewed.

But he urged that "we must avoid bringing in practices that are foreign to Bhutan".

"The government will not respond to any attempts to create hysteria on the issue through any forum, including the social media," he wrote referring to the launch of an "Amend the Tobacco Control Act" Facebook group.

"Likewise, street demonstrations and movements in such cases are unpredictable in their outcomes and are necessary only in countries where the rule of law is undermined by authorities."

Bhutan's tobacco control law is the most draconian I have ever heard of  (I think Blumberg took lessons from these folks).

I don't think any of us ever expected to read about someone convicted for possession of tobacco in our lifetimes.
It's a horrifying idea.
The idea that the law would outright declare that you deserve to go to prison for simple possession of less than approximately $2.50 worth of tobacco is mind boggling.
Most tobacco control laws aren't quite so harsh.

One imagines that the world of tobacco control is watching and taking notes on how best to implement some of the same types of laws here.

I think the smokers of the world will remember the name Sonam Tshering.
I think he will be a martyr of sorts if he really is going to serve the balance of his sentence.

The second person sentenced in "Happy Bhutan"under their new tobacco control law is named Lhab Tshering.
He is 24 years old,married and has children.
He is also set to serve 3 years for possession of tobacco without declaring it .

Lhab Tshering