Bhutan's new PM vows to keep corruption out of politics
The premier of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, which ended its absolute monarchy in March, has vowed to keep politics free of corruption that is otherwise rampant in South Asia.
Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley, who led his party to power in the landmark elections, pledged stern action against lawmakers if they were found guilty of graft, Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel reported on the weekend.
Parliamentarians must "be guided by a clear code of conduct and morals and the ethics committee would be responsible to review and look into their background and credentials," Thinley was quoted as saying.
"Should there be any discrepancies, measures will be taken to remove them from their positions," the prime minister said at the launch of a UN report titled "Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives" late last week.
The report by UN Development Programme said people in the Asia-Pacific region saw politicians as the most corrupt sector, followed by the police and judiciary.
In Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, health workers often demanded bribes for admission to hospital or to provide a bed, the report said.
In contrast, Bhutan was one of the most corruption-free country in the Asia-Pacific region, the country's anti-corruption commission chief Aum Neten Zangmo said at the release of the report.
Landlocked Bhutan, which has no traffic lights or slums and has a low crime rate, held its elections under strict guidelines with modest budgets for election candidates.
Before the elections this year, many Bhutanese feared that a shift to democracy would be accompanied by corruption once politicians took over the reins from their widely revered king.
The Buddhist country of 670,000 people had no roads or currency until the 1960s and allowed television only in 1999.