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.
In times of such peace and prosperity, as good Bhutanese, we must reflect on our responsibilities in further strengthening our nation. We all know that we shoulder responsibilities based on our professions whether they be in the civil service, business or even as parents and teachers. We know we must excel in these duties in order to succeed as individuals and as a nation.
However, there is a higher responsibility – not written in any legal document but instead enshrined in humanity and history – a natural responsibility and duty that we all must shoulder equally, irrespective of who we are. Of paramount importance to the strength of a nation, is the ability of her people to live as one united family – a community in which interaction is marked by trust, understanding and cooperation.
What is this natural responsibility? I am young, but as King it is my duty to offer, after deep reflection and prayer, my own thoughts and guidance on how we strengthen our nation as a unique Bhutanese people.
To me, natural responsibility means upholding values such as integrity, justice and compassion and above all living by that unwritten but absolute code of right over wrong, no matter what it is we are trying to achieve as individuals or as a nation. After all, while the objectives are important, the manner in which we achieve these objectives is a far more important indicator of our strength as a nation. We must achieve everything as a united harmonious family. I truly believe that it would be a great service to the nation if, as individuals, we always treat each other with respect and dignity.
This is why natural responsibilities are important, for if we understand and fulfill them then, it is only normal that we will be a society in which there is complete trust in each other. And once this becomes the character of society, then regard, faith and respect will come naturally.
I have always said these unwritten, unseen but profound values have been a part of our heritage inherited from our forefathers. However, I have also said that we face the danger that they might be weakened and lost over time, in the face of so many changes in the world and our nation. A family in which there is deep discord between parent and child or brother and sister is unlikely to achieve anything that leads to lasting happiness. As a nation, it is no different. Today we have great aspirations – the peace, stability, security and sovereignty of the nation; strengthening of our new democracy; equitable socio-economic growth to achieve GNH and; nurturing our youth to one day lead a nation greatly strengthened by our hard work and commitment. To achieve all this we need trust and faith in our relationships – between the government and people; between institutions of government and; between people ourselves. With the harmony and unity born of these relationships, we will achieve our aspirations and find peace, prosperity and gross national happiness.
In short let me say, if we uphold values such as unity, harmony, integrity, trust, justice and peace – if we respect their great importance – then it will be reflected in a strong civil society. A strong civil society is a fundamental pillar of democracy.
In 2008 when I became King, I promised you that, ‘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. I shall give you everything and keep nothing; I shall live such a life as a good human being that you may find it worthy to serve as an example for your children; I have no personal goals other than to fulfill your hopes and aspirations. I shall always serve you, day and night, in the spirit of kindness, justice and equality.’
I have always taken every decision and carried out every action with this promise in mind. In all my work, I consider my personal interactions with the people to be of greatest importance. Wherever I travel, I make it a point to enter every household and meet every family. Besides this, I have also tried to meet every day, small groups of people from all walks of life. In the two years since 2008, I have met about fifty thousand such people in my home. It is a source of great happiness for me that I am able to meet you, my people. With the old, I have the satisfaction of being able to express personal gratitude for their long service to the nation. With the young, I build the beginnings of a life-long relationship through which we will serve the people and nation together.
During one such meeting, a young civil servant asked me ‘what is our country going to be like in the next 15 years?’ I told him that while fifty or sixty years hence is unknowable, the next fifteen years are easier to contemplate. After all, it is in this period of time that the fruits of our actions today will take shape. Our generation has immense tasks ahead of us – the foremost being the building of a vibrant democracy, the foundations for which have been built by the fourth Druk Gyalpo. Let us nurture what we have begun so well, so that our nation shall reap the rewards of strong democracy for all time to come. Secondly, we must ensure equitable distribution of the fruits of our nation’s rapid growth and progress. Third, we must never set each other apart based on religion, regionalism or ethnicity. We must always refer to ourselves as citizens of Bhutan, all equal and all alike. If we can fulfill these tasks then the nation’s future in fifteen years is not only bright but we will have paved the road for even greater success in the decades beyond.
Lastly I end with a prayer for our nation. That the sun of peace and prosperity may always shine on Bhutan – a nation blessed by the teachings of Lord Buddha – a Shangrila blessed by the great Guru Rimpoche and founded by our revered and beloved parent Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal – a country born from the labour of Jigme Singye Wangchuck and the people of Bhutan.