BCSR doesn’t say civil servants cannot speak to the Media: PM

Answering questions from the media on recent cases involving civil servants being compulsorily retired and one demoted in connection with going against the code of conduct, Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Lotay Tshering said that the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations (BCSR) 2018, does not say that civil servants cannot speak with the media. However, civil servant should be able to stand their ground once they have spoken. 
Narrating a personal incident that happened when the PM was a civil servant, he said that he was reprimanded by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) for speaking to the media. However, he stood his ground. “And I still stand on the same ground,” he said. The PM said it is about interpretation of the BCSR’s section, which says, “A civil servant shall not criticize publicly the policies, programmes, and actions of the Royal Government and his own Agency.....” The PM said that he does not interpret the section as saying that civil servants cannot talk at all with the media.
Talking about the two foresters who were compulsorily retired, the PM said he was “shocked” to see media reports that the two have been compulsorily retired for “speaking to the media.” “You all have seen the letter and it is mentioned clearly that the two are compulsorily retired for insubordination.” However, the PM said all media houses picked up on “speaking to the media.”
The PM further said media houses should also know the entire story and base stories on facts. For instance, he said if the media questioned the two women about their allegations that those close to the heads are being retained while they were transferred. “Did the media ask the two women who the close ones still retained here are,” the PM questioned the media. The PM also elaborated on circumstances that had led to the compulsory retirement. 
Referring to code of conducts without specifically mentioning it, the PM asked if those working in media houses have ever openly criticized their management.
The PM further said there are media focal persons in all ministries who have legal rights to provide information. “Apart from that I and my 10 cabinet members are there 24x7 to provide any kind of information that you require,” he said and added that while constructive criticisms are valuable, “unnecessary criticism to pull others down and vent one’s grievances should not be encouraged.” Referring to Bhutan’s jump in press ratings from 65 in 2021 to 33 in 2022, the PM said it would not have happened if there is no flow of information and freedom of speech. He also added that if civil servants cannot speak to the media, how can they come for panel discussions on national television.