Paying attention

When did you first know that democracy would be introduced in our country? That was the question I asked in my last entry. No one ventured a definite date. One reader, however, admitted that it was a “tough question” while others questioned the relevance and importance of the question.

Relevant or not, I think I first knew about plans to introduce democracy in our country only in 2004. On 17th December that year, in Mongar, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo had commanded that: “The highest importance was also attached to the establishment of parliamentary democracy and a system of government that will provide good governance and fulfill the aspirations of our people.” His Majesty was referring to the drafting of the Constitution. A few months later, on 21st March 2005, His Majesty informed the Lhengye Zhungtshog that: “The adoption of the Constitution will provide the legal framework for a democratic political system”. Most of us finally read how parliamentary democracy would be introduced when the draft Constitution was distributed throughout the country on 26th March 2005.

What is important to note is that the Fourth Druk Gyalpo had actually announced the transition to democracy much earlier. His Majesty had made many references to people’s participation and political change, most notably on 10th June 1998 (in the Kasho to the National Assembly Speaker) and on 2nd June 1999 (during the silver jubilee celebrations of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s enthronement).  And, as early as 17th December 2001, in Wanduephodrang, His Majesty commanded that:  “While drafting the Tsa-Thrim it is of utmost importance that we safeguard the security and sovereignty of our nation, ensure the well-being of our people and establish a democratic political system that will best serve the interest of our country for all time to come. One of the most important responsibilities of a king is to enable the people to govern and look after the country through the establishment of a dynamic political system.”

The transition to our democracy has, indeed, been uniquely smooth. So smooth that most of us weren’t even paying attention.


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