Implementing the Constitution

For the people ...

Several people have asked me for an English translation of the expression of gratitude that I had offered to His Majesty the King during the inaugural ceremony of the fifth session of the Parliament. A busy schedule, arising from the fifth session, distracted me from translating the statement.

But yesterday, after posting the entry about the signing of our Constitution, I suddenly decided that the translation had to be done immediately. Here it is …

Expression of Appreciation to His Majesty the King

Introduction. It’s been hardly two years since the introduction of democracy in our country. Democratic Constitutional Monarchy has started off well, and as such, our country has received considerable international appreciation and acclaim for a successful transition to democracy.

But more importantly, our people are already enjoying the benefits of the new system of government.

We have been able to achieve a great deal of development within such a short span of time, because of the blessings of the Triple Gem; the support of our guardian deities; the prayers of our clergy; the good fortune of our people; and because of the wisdom, foresight and guidance of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

Most importantly, it is because of the noble deeds and exceptional accomplishments of His Majesty the King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

To most people, democracy means that the complete powers of governance are in the hands of the people. And, that is correct. But in order to administer these powers on behalf of the people, our Constitution accredits a range of institutions. These are, for example, the National Council and the National Assembly, the ruling party and the opposition, the Lhengye Zhungtsho and civil servants, the judiciary, and the Constitutional Offices. The respective powers, roles and responsibilities of these institutions are enshrined in the Constitution.

But of all these institutions, that of the Druk Gyapo is, by far, the most important. According to Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution, “His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo is the Head of State and the symbol of unity of the Kingdom and of the people of Bhutan.”

All of us are fully aware of His Majesty the King’s noble deeds, actions and achievements. So on behalf of the opposition party, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude by recalling a few of His Majesty’s accomplishments during the past two years. I thank the Honourable Speaker for allowing me to do so.

One: land. In accordance with Article 2 Section 16 (b) (The Druk Gyalpo, in exercise of His Royal Prerogatives, may grant … land kidu and other kidus), His Majesty the King has, during the last two years, traveled throughout our country to grant audiences to people living in our remotest gewogs and villages, and to personally experience their living conditions and greatest difficulties.

His Majesty has already granted 40,055 acres of land to 31,293 households living in 38 gewogs. Most of the land kidu was “excess land” that our farmers could not afford to buy, nor could afford to abandon. In addition, the landless and the destitute were awarded land kidu.

As a result of His Majesty’s rural tours, the number of households in these 38 gewogs that have lagthrams have increased from 14,000 to more than 30,000. That represents a more than two-fold increase in the number of people who finally have legal ownership and title to property. That has given our people a sense of security, and drastically improved their livelihoods.

Furthermore, His Majesty has granted monthly kidu to no less than 6,000 people living in our 20 dzongkhags. The recipients are the old, the infirm, the disabled, the orphaned and the destitute, disadvantaged people who otherwise had nowhere to turn to.

Two: Disaster relief. In accordance with Article 14 Section 12 of the Constitution (The Parliament shall establish a relief fund and the Druk Gyalpo shall have the prerogative to use this fund for urgent and unforeseen humanitarian relief), His Majesty the King has personally visited the unfortunate victims of unforeseen natural disasters caused by earthquakes, floods, windstorms and fire. Already more than 5,000 households have received kidu in the form of monetary compensation, clothes, blankets, tents, CGI sheets, timber, food and labour.

His Majesty’s personal intervention, guidance and support has greatly enhanced the morale of our people and reduced their suffering.

Three: The Parliament. In accordance with Article 10, Section 1 of the Constitution (There shall be a Parliament for Bhutan in which all legislative powers under this Constitution are vested and which shall consist of the Druk Gyalpo, the National Council and the National Assembly), His Majesty the King has fulfilled His Parliamentary and legislative responsibilities with diligence, and has constantly guided and advised the Members of the Parliament. In addition, His Majesty has commanded how the National Council and National Assembly should work together, and has ensured that the proceedings of these two Houses are in line with the Constitution.

Four: extraordinary sitting. In accordance with Article 13 Section 8 of the Constitution which states that, when the two Houses are not able to agree on a Bill, “…the Druk Gyalpo … shall command the Houses to deliberate and vote on the Bill in a joint sitting”, His Majesty the King, concerned that continued delay in conducting the Local Government elections would undermine the implementation of the Tenth Five Year Plan activities, commanded an extraordinary joint sitting of the Parliament which was able to approve the Local Government Bill.

Five: the Judiciary. In accordance with Article 21 Sections 4 and 5, 11 and 12 His Majesty the King appointed the Chief Justice of Bhutan, Drangpons of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of the High Court and the Drangpons of the High Court, and thereby strengthened and completed the establishment of the Judiciary.

Though the Constitution empowers His Majesty to appoint these members of the Judiciary, the identification and selection was delegated to a Royal Commission to promote transparency and decentralization in the process.

Six: civil servants. In accordance with Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution (His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo is the Head of State …), His Majesty has granted audiences to more than 2,000 civil servants to guide and motivate them, and to allow them to express their grievances.

Similarly, His Majesty has granted audiences to gups, mangmis and tshogpas to discuss local development issues, and the aspirations of the people. His Majesty has also visited many schools and institutions, interacted with the youth, and, like a parent, counseled them on character development, importance of education, and their future.

Seven: defense. In accordance with Article 28 Section 1 of the Constitution (The Druk Gyalpo shall be the supreme Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the Militia) His Majesty the King has improved the organization and administration in the armed forces. In addition, His Majesty has enhanced the morale and capabilities of our soldiers so that they are more able to guard Bhutan’s security from external as well as internal threats.

The media has recently reported that the salaries and benefits of the armed forces may soon be increased. This will further improve the quality and preparedness of the armed forces.

Eight: religion. In accordance with Article 3 Section 2 (The Druk Gyalpo is the protector of all religions in Bhutan), His Majesty the King, on the very day He ascended the Golden Throne, commanded increases in the monthly allowances for lams, lopens and monks of the Central Monastic Body, thereby ensuring that the teachings of the Buddha will continue to flourish in Bhutan.

Additionally, during the Royal Tours, His Majesty has granted separate audiences to the local monks and gomchens to discuss how they can serve their people and their communities.

Nine: decorations. In accordance with Article 2 Section 16(a) of the Constitution (The Druk Gyalpo, in the exercise of His Royal Prerogatives may award titles, decorations, dar for Lhengye and Nyi Kyelma in accordance with tradition and custom), His Majesty the King awarded dar for Nyi Khelma to public servants who have rendered outstanding service to the country and people. In addition, His Majesty has recognized the important services of everyday workers and awarded special decorations to teachers, farmers, craftsmen, health workers and manual workers.

Ten: media. In accordance with Article 2 Section 16(b) of the Constitution (The Druk Gyalpo, in the exercise of His Royal Prerogatives may grant citizenship, land kidu and other kidus), His Majesty the King established the Bhutan Media Foundation on His birth anniversary last year, thereby highlighting the important role free media plays in creating a vibrant democracy for our country.

Eleven: foreign relations. In accordance with Article 2 Section 17 (The Druk Gyalpo may promote goodwill and good relations with other countries by receiving state guests and undertaking state visits to other countries), His Majesty the King has improved our friendly relations with other countries and international organisations. As a result, our country has benefited from international good will and generous assistance.

In addition, His Majesty’s visit to India further strengthened and cemented the friendly relations that our two countries enjoy.

So today, although Bhutan is a landlocked country with a small population and a very small economy, there is growing international recognition for our country. Tellingly, when most foreigners think of Bhutan, they immediately think of our monarch.

Conclusion. His Majesty the King’s accomplishments are so many that I cannot continue to enumerate them. To summarize, however: His Majesty the King has worked tirelessly, and with complete conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of our people. This is the real reason why our people have remained confident and optimistic in the face of unprecedented social and political change during the last two years.

So, on behalf of the Opposition Party – the People’s Democratic Party – I offer our heartfelt gratitude and pledge our complete loyalty to the Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Destiny.

Thank you.

Photo credit: Kuensel

 

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  1. If we really want to have a true democracy in our country, His Majesty the King MUST ALWAYS REMAIN SACROSANCT, ie, above politics. It is right that His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo is our Head of State and the symbol of unity of our Kingdom and of the people of Bhutan, but His Majesty must never indulge or involve himself in the politics of the country. His Majesty must remain neutral at all times. The moment His Majesty stoops down and intervenes in our politics will be the end of our democracy because then it implies that His Majesty is taking sides. We should let the mechanism of our democracy function by itself.

    LONG LIVE MY KING.
    MAY THE SUNSHINE OF PEACE AND HAPPINESS SHINE IN MY KINGDOM FOREVER AND EVER MORE.

  2. Transplacement says:

    His Majesty has thus far done more than enough in creating and anchoring a unique yet true democracy in our country. He has done what he was supposed to do for the betterment of the country and the people and has never made a step to contravene the constitution. So, we highly respect and honor your noble deeds and contributions made to our young democracy. Conversely, our members of the parliament, despite making commendable efforts in uplifting the country’s position, have timely contravened the constitution and have failed to respect what is enshrined on it. If they continue doing so as they wish, ignoring citizens’ opinions and resentments,I am pessimistic about the future of our country in creating a unique democracy.

  3. Your Excellency Lyonpo Tshering Tobgay,
    This piece of your address at the closing session of the NA is something that should be known and acknowledged by the people of Bhutan. The reason why I say this is because, the Bhutanese (public servants, monks, farmers, etc) should be aware of how much the king has done for the benefit of the country.
    I would suggest Lyonpo to print the exact version of both dzongkha and english address in all the papers, and also if NA can spare the speech record to all the radio stations to broadcast.
    Lyonpo, you are doing wonderful job and my prayers and wishes for your healthy life.
    Thank you,

  4. Some credit to the government for what it has accomplished and the challenges it faces would have made this a balanced, realistic and intelligent point of view. ( In the final analysis, that’s exactly what it is…just someone’s perspective, point of view)

  5. Dear Kinga:

    That was a “Motion of Thanks on the Royal Address” as indicated on the agenda for the Opening Ceremony of the Fifth Session of the Parliament. That’s why my address was limited exclusively to the Monarch.

    I also used the opportunity to express thanks for His Majesty’s work outside the Parliament too.

    I would have offered my views on the government’s performance after the PM’s State of the Nation address. However we did not get the opportunity to discuss it.

    Tshering

  6. Dear OL,

    Apologies for the oversight. I seem to have ‘jumped the gun’.

  7. Hello,

    Now that the session is over, there wont be any hot discussions like there were recently…”resignation of the FM, Supreme Court, Taba road blah blah. Oh, by the way, Taba road looks good, Although I have no idea if you had done anything with my complaint. Anyways I wanted to put up a question and I humbly request you to reply to it. The general understanding is that the Opposition is there and meant to oppose to anything the govt. does.Do you see the opposition that way too???

    Secondly, Is the Tax case going to the Supreme Court???I havent heard anything on it.

    • Dear Sonam: I didn’t do anything about the Taba road, because, by then, the road widening had already reached Taba. And moving around was not a problem.

      The role of the opposition party is enshrined in the Constitution. Article 18 of the Constitution:

      1. The Opposition Party shall play a constructive role to ensure that the Government and the ruling party function in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, provide good governance and strive to promote the national interest and fulfil the aspirations of the people.

      2. The Opposition Party shall promote national integrity, unity and harmony, and co-operation among all sections of society.

      3. The Opposition Party shall endeavour to promote and engage in constructive and responsible debate in Parliament while providing healthy and dignified opposition to the Government.

      4. The Opposition Party shall not allow party interests to prevail over the national interest. Its aim must be to make the Government responsible, accountable and transparent.

      5. The Opposition Party shall have the right to oppose the elected Government, to articulate alternative policy positions and to question the Government’s conduct of public business.

      6. The Opposition Party shall aid and support the Government in times of external threat, natural calamities and such other national crises when the security and national interest of the country is at stake.

      Taxes: I think the way the taxes were raised is unconstitutional. If the government does not change their position, I will be forced to approach the Supreme Court.

  8. Respected Opposition Leader,

    Thanks for the way you raise the point in the parliament. I really appreciated the roles and responsibilties taken by two people,i.e representing the whole nation. I on my own behalf and on behalf of people of Bhutan, i would like to Congratulation for doing great and performing well. The same sprite should be henced forth la. Tashi Delek

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