Druk Wangyel

Truly amazing!

The heavens descended on Dochula yesterday. Boddhisattvas and gods, enchanting goddesses and spirits, guardian deities and demons, and Milarepa himself, meditating and levitating in the freezing cold, appeared before the thousands of pilgrims who had gathered to witness the inaugural Druk Wangyel Tsechu.

The tsechu was inspired, guided and supported by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to honour the armed forces for their bravery and selfless services in protecting the peace, security and sovereignty of our nation.

Photo credit: “Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival” by Dasho Karma Ura, the festival director who composed and choreographed the dances.


History has not witnessed a king, who, at the peak of his glorious reign, renounced the throne to bequeath a functioning democracy to his people. In this, and all others, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, who has dedicated his body, speech and mind in the service of his people, is beyond compare.

To him, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, The Great Fourth, architect of Bhutan’s peace, prosperity and happiness, role model and hero, embodiment of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, I offer this humble tribute to cherish and celebrate his precious legacy:


Thank you

The Royal Wedding celebrations moved to Paro yesterday. The festivities, which took place on the historic grounds of the Ugyen Pelri Palace, marked the end of the week-long official celebrations and were hosted by Their Majesties the King and Queen especially for the people who had worked to ensure the success of the Royal Wedding.

The Royal Wedding and the accompanying celebrations were indeed a resounding success. And we, the people of Bhutan, owe our gratitude to the hundreds of people who worked round the clock to make them so.

First and foremost, we must thank the Prime Minister, the working committee and the cabinet ministers for a job well done. They were the ones who successfully planned, coordinated and oversaw the once-in-a-lifetime celebrations.

Second, we are extremely grateful to HH the Je Khenpo and the Dratsang for offering prayers throughout the country. They secured the benedictions of the Triple Gem and invoked our Guardian Deities to protect and bless the Royal Couple and the people of Bhutan.

Third, we must acknowledge the important contributions of our civil servants, most of who worked long hours through the many weeks leading up to the celebrations. And during the actual celebrations, instead of joining the festivities, they continued to work, with even director- and secretary-level officers guiding the public and chaperoning guests and dignitaries.

Fourth, we thank our students and their teachers. They organised a wide range of events throughout the country, so that our people, in every district, could take part in the celebrations. And through their innocence, they conveyed the love and affection of the entire country to the Royal Couple.

Fifth, we owe our gratitude to our security forces. The Army, Police and Body Guards worked together to assure law and order, and to maintain the security of our country.

Sixth, we thank the media for spreading the celebrations and keeping our people informed. In particular, we applaud the BBS for taking the sacred ceremonies and colorful festivals in Punakha and Thimphu to every Bhutanese home through their excellent live TV and radio coverage of the celebrations.

Seventh, we are grateful to the many private businesses and corporate agencies who organized activities and released a range of souvenirs and mementos.

And most importantly, we, the people, are deeply grateful to His Majesty the King for giving us a Queen, and for dedicating the Royal Wedding to the people of Bhutan. The celebrations bought the entire nation even closer together and, during the past week, every one of us felt like we belonged to the same big, happy family.

Your Majesties – on behalf of the people of Bhutan: thank you, and tashidelek!




25 additional colonels make our armed forces that much more stronger. His Majesty the King, who is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, granted promotions to the accomplished officers this morning.

I thank the officers for their outstanding services to the tsa-wa-sum, and wish them and their families a very hearty Tashi Delek!

Family ties

People's gift

“Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son …” so pledged His Majesty the King during the coronation two and a half years ago.

His Majesty the King has kept his promise.

His Majesty has traveled the length and breadth of our country and personally granted land kidu to tens of thousands of farmers. He has walked – sometimes for days on end, in the sun, rain and in the snow – to meet our remotest villagers, and has cooked for them, slept in their houses, and granted kidu to the destitute, the needy and the infirm.

He has visited almost every school, from community schools to colleges, to talk with, to play – at times even barefoot – and to guide our students.

And when disaster has struck – earthquakes in our East, floods throughout the country, fire in many places – His Majesty the King has rushed to be with His people; to console them and to support them; and to help them rebuild their homes and their lives.

His Majesty has kept his promise – He has protected us as only a parent can; cared for us as a true brother; and served us as a devoted son. He is the People’s King.

The People’s King has already touched the lives of thousands upon tens of thousands of ordinary Bhutanese. And yesterday, when he announced that, “it is now time for me to marry” His Majesty touched the hearts of an entire nation.

The joyous announcement did not come as a Royal Command. Instead, His Majesty informed the nation personally, without formality and without any attempt to hide his complete sincerity, much like a son informing his parents and his siblings.

Our future queen is Ashi Jetsun Pema. And the royal wedding will take place this October.

The entire nation, like one big family, is already celebrating.

Valuable lessons

Strengthening Bhutan

Yesterday, during our 103rd National Day celebrations, His Majesty the King reminded us, His people, of our collective responsibility to strengthen our nation. That, His Majesty explained, meant excelling in our workplaces. But that, His Majesty emphasized, also – and more crucially – meant “… upholding values such as integrity, justice and compassion and above all living by that unwritten but absolute code of right over wrong…”

Below is the official transcription of His Majesty the King’s National Day address.

My dear people,

As King, I have been deeply blessed by the satisfaction of seeing immense achievements in four short years, made possible only by the harmonious bond between the people and government, as we worked hand in hand. We have conducted our first general elections, formed the government and opposition, instituted the National Assembly and National Council and above all, following elaborate deliberations by our honourable members of Parliament, we adopted our sacred and historic Constitution. We have all worked together towards strengthening our democratic institutions and this year established the Supreme Court of Bhutan.

As a developing country, socio-economic development efforts are vital. In this regard, the prime minister and the government have not only worked hard on successfully implementing the crucial 10th 5-year plan but have also initiated many new projects for the benefit of our people.

For the peace, happiness and prosperity we enjoy today, I take this opportunity to voice on behalf of our people, gratitude to the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck. On my own behalf, I shall never forget the kindness, loyalty and faith with which you, my people, have supported me at the beginning of my own reign. [Continue Reading…]

Relief for relief fund?

For the people

During Question Hour today, I requested the Hon’ble Home Minister to report on the status of the Relief Fund. In particular, I asked him if he, as the minister in charge of disaster management, would propose legislation to establish the Relief Fund.

According to Article 14 Section 12 of the Constitution:

Parliament shall establish a relief fund and the Druk Gyalpo shall have the prerogative to use this fund for urgent and unforeseen humanitarian relief.

Bhutan’s first Parliament has already met five times. And the sixth session is currently on. Yet, and in spite of the opposition party’s repeated appeals, the Parliament has not established the Relief Fund. In fact, the Parliament has done no work to establish the Relief Fund. So the first elected Parliament risks defaulting on this important responsibility.

On the other hand, a spate of natural disasters – floods, earthquakes, storms and fires – have struck various parts of the country during the last two years, and have caused unprecedented hardship to countless people. In almost every case, His Majesty the King has personally provided immediate relief, and overseen the rehabilitation and recovery process. And, during the opening of the Parliament’s sixth session, His Majesty spoke of His pledge to victims of the Chamkhar fire that:

… even though our nation may be a small, landlocked country without the great wealth of others, in their moment of great suffering, the King and government would do everything to find the resources needed to alleviate their pain and restore happiness to their lives.

Obviously, there’s a real need to establish the Relief Fund urgently.

So I was happy to hear the home minister report that his ministry and the Ministry of Finance have jointly drafted a proposal to establish a relief fund, and that the proposal would soon be discussed in the Cabinet.

And I was even more happy to hear the Hon’ble Speaker decide that the home minister will submit a motion in the National Assembly to introduce the proposal to establish the Relief Fund.

Royal address

His Majesty the King addressed the nation during the opening session of the Sixth Session of the Parliament this morning. The official transcript of the Royal Address follows:

Since assuming Kingship in December 2006, I have travelled outside Bhutan four times – each time it has been to India. Indo-Bhutan friendship is of paramount importance and something we hold dear. We must always work to further strengthen and deepen it. In October this year, I visited Kolkata and New Delhi. I found in my meetings with the President, Prime Minister, Chairperson of the UPA, ministers, government officials and leader of the Opposition, a common heartfelt appreciation for Bhutan’s achievements as a nation, and a steadfast commitment and pledge to strengthen even further what they feel is a model partnership and bond between countries.

We are presently undertaking the mid-term review of the 10th 5-year Plan. India’s assistance has been wholehearted and generous to the first development plan under our new democracy. On behalf of the people of Bhutan, I convey my deep appreciation to the Government and People of India.

Upon my return from India, I went directly to Bumthang to the site of the tragic fire in Chamkhar town. [Continue Reading…]

Portrait of a Leader

Ahead of her time

Mieko Nishimizu sat in silence, absorbing every word on her laptop screen.

It was the 16th of December 2006.  The sun had not yet risen over her home in the British Virgin Islands. And she’d just received the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s last Kasho – a simple announcement abdicating the Golden Throne and handing over the responsibilities of Druk Gyalpo to our new King, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

As tears welled up in her eyes, she reminded herself that she had anticipated this announcement, not in 2008 as most of us expected, but much earlier, on the National Day of 2006. And that she had been prepared.

She had been prepared, because she had been captivated by the quality of His Majesty’s leadership ever since she first visited Bhutan in October 1997. And she had long determined that His Majesty, being the great leader that he was, would “… know when to leave, and to act on that knowledge when the time is right – and to do so for nothing other than a higher purpose, bigger than life.”

During the year that followed the last Kasho, Dr Nishimizu – a former vice president of the World Bank, and self-styled “leadership mentor” – poured over that and the other royal decrees issued in the course of His Majesty’s 34 years of reign. The result was Portrait of a Leader – Through the Looking-Glass of His Majesty’s Decrees, a tribute to and a celebration of an extraordinary leader.

In Portrait of a Leader, Dr Nishimizu reproduces 51 of His Majesty’s decrees in the original Dzongkha versions and their English translations. And, because of their historical significance, she includes three Kuensel articles. But the book is more than just a compilation of the royal decrees and newspaper clippings. Instead, she draws on her personal experiences and powerful insights into the rare world of successful leadership to organize and present the decrees according to what she calls eight dimensions of leadership.

Dr Nishimizu introduces each of her eight leadership dimensions – foresight, humility, head-and-heart conviction, good management, emotional intelligence, sensing the closure, empowering the people, and the perfect departure – with a crisp account of the importance of that leadership dimension. She then illustrates how the royal decrees clearly signal that His Majesty was “truly ahead of the times” on every one of the eight dimensions of leadership.

On “head-and-heart conviction”, for example, she writes that the royal decrees confirm that His Majesty’s “body, speech and mind” are perfectly aligned, and that “The focus on the sovereignty and the people of Bhutan – along with an unvarying aspiration for their happiness – is evident throughout.”

On “true power” she details His Majesty’s “focus on devolution of power to the people” including the decentralization of authority to local governments, devolution of executive powers to an elected cabinet, establishment of constitutional bodies, drafting of the Constitution and the introduction of parliamentary democracy.

And on “humility”, she refers to His Majesty as the complete “servant-leader.”

Dr Nishimizu’s carefully crafted portrait of His Majesty as a leader ahead of the times is ultimately a gift to the people of Bhutan. She concludes her preface with a solemn wish “that the people of Bhutan and of nations beyond, both of today and of morrow, would look to His Majesty as their role model so that they too can exercise their own leadership.”

Today, the 11th of November, is the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 55th birth anniversary. It is an auspicious occasion. And a fitting time to reflect on, and draw inspiration from, His Majesty’s golden reign … so that we too can exercise our own leadership.