A big dream of FDI project of an education city in Bhutan which was conceptualized since 2007 before the democratic progression came into live and progress since 2008 after the democratic elections. The first democratically elected government the Druk Phunsum Tshogpa (DPT) drew a plan for the education city and in 2012 an act was also passed for the education city project from the parliament of both upper and lower houses.
There were lots of positive stories from observers commenting on the idea as somethings fantastic for the socio-economic growth of the country. Arun Kapur, director of Vasant Valley school in New Delhi, has said: “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for this part of Asia, for Bhutan to become an educational hub,” in an article on the education city by Kencho Wangdi published on 24 October 2010. An article on The Free Library has estimated that Bhutan would be soon be known as higher education hub of Asia if current plans go well. A journal article authored by three, Anand Srinivas, Smakit Khatadia and Anirudh Taget titled: The emergence of Bhutan as Education Hub in South Asia: An Analysis published by Delhi School of Economics states in its abstract that “Through various studies, and introductions to the economy of Bhutan, this paper will show that over the next decades, with the success of this Education City, Bhutan will no longer just be “One of Asia’s happiest nations”, it will also be one of Asia’s fast-developing nations, becoming a force to reckon with.”
However, with local newspaper ‘The Bhutanese’ which claims to be an investigative paper has been critically writing adversely about this project. One of the allegations the paper promoted was the allegation of corruption citing lands owned by the ministers and their wives near or on the way to the site identified for the education city as the evidence of corruption. However, the DPT government was never charged for any kind of corruption albeit the allegation of The Bhutanese newspaper. Education City Project was scrapped by the PDP government due to some legality issues.
|Prime actors:The Bhutanese|
Secondary Actors:The opposition party which became the government later to scrap the education city.
|Transparency: As a registered newspaper it has a transparent reporting.|
Intent: Politically aspersive.
Authenticity: Lawful means of communication using the newspaper.
Dependency: Possibly delivering on the other party’s behalf.
|The article alleged that the ministers owned or bought lands near the proposed location of education city, which according to the paper is corruption. |
Harm: Discrediting the project.
Synthetic: The content was misleading and manipulative.
Narrative(s): The content is aligned with the disinformation and misinformation narrative.
|Target audience:General people of Bhutan |
|Socio Economics:It is discrediting the potential socio-economic benefit of the project.|
Election: The project which otherwise was well received by general voters is presented as mitten with corruption to possibly impact the election which was around the corner when the news was published.
ABCDE Framework Analysis:
It is clear that the actor in open is the newspaper known as ‘The Bhutanese.’ However, because it is around the election when the story of the corruption alleging the lands owned by the ministers near the project location as the intended corruption, it is also possible that there is a political actor behind the scenes encouraging the paper to do the story and even assisting with the information.
The actor is promoting an allegation of corruption using the lands owned by the ministers and or bought by wives near the education city project site as the evidence of corruption.
The content is a deceptive element using the lands owned by the ministers and their wives near the education city as the basis of corruption to derate the government which due to dissolve for the 2nd parliamentary election.
The actor has followed the story of the education story and has kept on digging on the lope holes for the allegation of corruptions writing quite a number of stories from reporting factual status of the project to exposing certain facts with allegations of corruption. But other then the allegation of the paper, the DPT government was never charged of the corruption. The Education city was later closed by the PDP government after the Land Commission declared the identified land as illegal due to some lease terms which was found to be inconsistent with the laws of the kingdom.
The story slowed down the education city project from taking on and gradually resulted into its closure after the election which was won by the then opposition party.
The Case has been identified as a case of Disinformation. This is because while the newspaper was at the forefront reporting with legitimate face. There is also a doubt of collaboration with the satirical anonymous webpage known as the Bhutanomics. The paper itself has quoted Bhutanomics as having alleged the ministers of owning land near the project site. And with The Bhutanese also trying to legitimize this allegation through its news coverage. The paper and the Bhutanomics are collaborating with or without knowing each other to deceive voters using the lands owned by the ministers around the project site.
The DPT government which was a popular party among the general public since 2008 faced a backlash of targeted disinformation social media campaign against the party in 2013 joined by The Bhutanese which critiqued the party and its leadership through various allegations and investigative coverages impacting the party and its image.
Education city project which was one of the major projects planned by the DPT government with huge future socioeconomic scope in the education sector. It however became one of the targets challenging DPT’s reputation and it ended in the hands of the PDP government after the 2013 elections scrapping the project for issues surrounding its legality of the acquired land for lease to foreign entities, shooting down the benefits and scopes the project offered to the country and its people through politically intended disinformation campaign.