Hurdle cleared

Sep 7, 2017
The Legislature-Parliament passed two election related bills – House of Representatives and Pradesh Assembly – on Monday barring corruption convicted persons from contesting elections and incorporating three percent threshold under the proportional representation system or requiring to win at least one seat under the First-Past-the-Post (FPtP) to get representation in the federal parliament. The bills have however set 1.5 percent threshold for representation in the Pradesh Assembly. The logic behind this is unclear as to why the provincial assembly requires only 1.5 percent valid votes cast to have representation in the province. One of the strengths of the bill is that it has imposed a lifetime ban on a person from contesting the parliamentary and provincial elections who has been convicted by the final court of law on charges of corruption, rape, abduction, human trafficking, drug smuggling, money laundering, misuse of passport and others convicted on moral turpitude or those who were jailed for 20 years or more on charges of any other crimes. Some of the ruling Nepali Congress lawmakers had been lobbying for lifting the ban on persons convicted on the above-mentioned crimes three or six years after they have served the jail sentence, arguing that a person who has already served the jail term should be treated as a commoner and s/he should be allowed to contest the elections.
The bill related to the House of Representatives has clearly stated that a political party is required to win at least three percent valid votes under the PR system or must win at least one parliamentary seat under the FPtP to get  representation in the 275-member Lower House. If a political party fails to meet either of the conditions it will not have any representation in Parliament. This provision, fiercely opposed by fringe parties, will remarkably reduce the number of political parties in the federal parliament. There will be five or six political parties in the federal parliament after the fresh election is held scheduled for November 26 and December 7.
The provision of three percent threshold will reduce the number of political parties in Parliament. But the law does not ensure a stable government because of the mixed election system that will always create a hung parliament forcing the major political parties to make political alliances in accordance with their convenience. It took around two months for the political parties to reach consensus on key issues, including the provision of the right to no-vote as per the Supreme Court ruling, right to recall and guaranteeing the election of women and Dalits under the FPtP. Those provisions were omitted as the parties could not reach consensus. Under the new constitution, there should be at least 33 percent representation of women in Parliament and Provincial Assembly. The political parties are now required to compensate the deficit of representation of women and Dalits from the PR to meet the constitutional requirement of their 33 percent representation in both the Parliament and Pradesh Assembly. With the passage of both the bills, the Election Commission will be able to hold the elections on the stipulated dates fixed by the government. However, the EC’s demand that it be allowed to fix the election date was unmet.
Stem cell transplant
Haploidentical stem cell transplants would be initiated at the Civil Hospital within a couple of months. Since it started bone marrow transplants in 2016 nine patients received autotransplant and one had undergone allogeneic stem cell transplant. Haploidentical stem cell transplant seeks to treat patients with blood related cancer and several blood disorders. Those who would benefit from this form of treatment are patients who cannot find donors matching their tissue type. A first degree relative such as a parent or sibling can serve as donors. When matching donors are not available half-matched donors can also be safely used in the stem cell transplant.
So far the hospital is conducting allogeneic and autotransplant stem cell transplants when only siblings are donors. The cost of performing such surgeries would be about 12 to 15 lakh rupees.  The transplant could be used to treat patients with blood cancer, aplastic anaemia, sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia. When this treatment is possible in Nepal patients with such diseases will no longer have to go abroad for treatment where it can be very expensive.
The Himalayan Times, September 7, 2017

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