When we woke on 27 November, Kathmandu had changed overnight: every street light pole and advertising space featured the face of Prime Minister K P Oli. “A new era begins” proclaimed the posters promoting a new social security scheme.
Social media was soon flooded with ironic memes about the new era. Critics attacked the publicity campaign’s huge expense and the showy display that took the focus away from the scheme itself.
Many journalists and political scientists are also concerned about this and other signs of megalomania. The communist government has recently passed laws that criminalise aspects of investigative journalism, photography and satire, and strengthen actions against slander and libel. The message is clear: the government will take no criticism.
The PM’s speech at the inauguration of the scheme was explicit about the intention to control. “For those who say they do not see the government’s presence, do you still not see it? If you don’t, you won’t have to wear spectacles to do so. In future you will be forced to see it, whether or not you want to!”
/Sewa Bhattarai, Kathmandu.
The postcards by journalists in our network are published on the Blank Spot Project website.