A dubious manpower agent was nearly appointed as Nepal’s ambassador to UAE, and it seems media was responsible

Asha Lama
Photo Courtesy: Annapurna Post

27 February 2017: A Nepali Congress leader has suggested that his party made the mistake of recommending a controversial “manpower agent” as Nepal’s ambassador to UAE because it trusted what “a big media house” had said about the ambassador designate some two months ago.

The unidentified leader, quoted by the website of Annapurna Post, appears to suggest that his party would not have recommended Asha Lama for the top diplomatic position if the media house in question had not published the piece praising her for rescuing Nepali women stranded in the middle east.

The government has already revoked the names of Ms Lama as well as that of Sharmila Parajuli, another female nominee also associated with a labour recruitment agency, under mounting pressure from Nepalis both at home and abroad.

The Pushpa Kamal Dahal cabinet had put forward a list of 14 ambassador designates last Monday out of which only 12 stand good for now, which also includes proposed ambassador to Australia, Lucky Sherpa. She was also in the list made public last year but the process was suddenly disrupted after KP Oli Government fell.

Ambassadorial appointments usually tend to be controversial in Nepal as it happens under twisted political arrangements. However, the latest recommendations were particularly under fire because Ms Lama and Ms Parajuli were ironically proposed for countries where they engage in their “manpower” business – a serious and blatant conflict of interest by any standards.

Upon scrutiny by Nepali media outlets, both were found to have colourful track records.

The disputed ambassador designates, or rather, the former ambassador designates, were found to have been guilty of several fraud charges and both had apparently paid hundreds of thousands of rupees in compensation to fraud victims while many others are still said to be waiting for compensation from agencies the two are associated with.

Even more intriguing and somewhat ludicrous was the fact that Sharmila Parajuli was recommended by Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic), a party explicitly formed to fight for the equal rights and mainstreaming of Madhesi people (Nepali citizens who live in the plains districts of Nepal). But, ironically, Ms Parajuli was not a Madhesi. “Were there no Madhesis fit for the job?”, many ask.

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