With thanks

The following is a rough translation of my address yesterday, in the closing session of the parliament.

HM-kengkhar

The People’s King

Today is an auspicious day: it is the closing ceremony of the 10th session of the first parliament. Today is also an historic day: it is the closing session of the first elected parliament after Bhutan became a democratic constitutional monarchy. On behalf of the opposition party, I offer thanks to His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen for gracing the closing session of the parliament.

In the past five years since the introduction of parliamentary democracy, His Majesty the King has worked tirelessly and contributed so much to the nation and the people that it is impossible to recount them all here. In fact, it is difficult to even offer a summary, because no such articulation would do justice to His Majesty’s contributions.

Nevertheless, on behalf of the opposition party, I take the privilege of offering our sincere gratitude to His Majesty the King for the continuing, steadfast and unwavering support and guidance that the country has been blessed with. And so I would like to take the privilege of highlighting just a few areas and projects through which His Majesty has led the country with vision and dynamism.

First, by granting royal kidu, His Majesty the King has changed the lives of countless people. His Majesty has granted land to the landless and the poor. Thousands upon thousands of people in the villages who couldn’t pay for their excess land were granted exemption, and their excess lands were regularized in their name. This went on to address the biggest concern for countless people in the villages and helped them lead a normal life. It gave them hope to continue living in the villages at a time when rural to urban migration has become a grave threat.

His Majesty’s kidu program has been extended to poor students to help them go to school. It has given the rural and poor students an equal opportunity to go to school and shape a career for themselves. His Majesty also supports many elderly, poor and needy citizens all over the country. The Kidu program ensures that no one is left behind and His Majesty has personally met all of the recipients to understand their problem.

Second, it was unfortunate for our country to have suffered from so many disasters in the past five years. We had entire towns and a dzong destroyed by fire. We experienced windstorms, floods and earthquakes posing a lot of hardship for the people. We even had an unfortunate plane crash where some Bhutanese citizens on pilgrimage died in Nepal. But whenever a disaster struck, His Majesty personally and immediately went to comfort the people. While His Majesty’s mere presence gave people hope and comfort, relief funds and support helped them rebuild their homes and lives.

Third, as a deeply religious country, the two great religions of Bhutan have spread even more and taken greater hold. It is because of His Majesty’s personal work and example that the people have even greater faith and belief in our religions. In this context, I would also like to thank His Holiness the Je Khenpo, Trulku Jigme Choida, for his exemplary leadership, and the five lopens, the clergy and the monks, lay monks, and nuns of all faiths for their continuous prayers for the nation.

Fourth, as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, His Majesty the King has strengthened the security of the country. His Majesty has guarded our external boundaries and protected the country from all internal threats. In addition, His Majesty initiated the De-Suung program which has strengthened community vitality, patriotism, and volunteerism. The De-Suung volunteers are the first ones to reach any disaster affected area. They seem only eager to help and such positive enthusiasm would not have been possible without His Majesty’s vision and leadership.

Sixth, it is amazing to recount that His Majesty has personally met almost all the people in the country. Despite the busy schedule, His Majesty has given audience to people from all sectors at the Royal Palace. His Majesty invited and personally attended to people from the civil service, corporations, local governments, business community, farmers, musicians, movie industry, media, bloggers and many others. His Majesty listened to them, took stock of their problems, joked with them, advised them and the most important, inspired them to achieve greater heights. In addition to that, His Majesty has been visiting schools constantly. Ever since ascending the throne, His Majesty has graced every graduate orientation program, whether it is university graduates, vocational graduates or teachers, and has been personally giving away the graduation certificates no matter how large a group is. His Majesty has always reiterated that the youth are the future of the country and has always kept them in the loop with constant interaction and in the process advising and supporting them.

Seventh, His Majesty the King has taken Bhutan’s international relations to new heights. His Majesty has generously granted audiences to international visitors to Bhutan, and has visited many countries. Each visit has brought unparalleled goodwill and standing. While making new friends, His Majesty has taken the friendship with India to a new level.

Like I reported earlier, recounting His Majesty’s successes is next to impossible. But what stands out by far as His Majesty’s the most significant contribution is making democracy a success. On the eventful day of December 17, 2005, when the fourth Druk Gyalpo announced to the nation that Bhutan would be introducing democracy, it shocked everyone. The reaction turned to alarm and people were even scared of democracy. But today, it is obvious that democracy is not only succeeding but it is poised to serve the people and the country for many generations to come. This success is mainly due to the support, guidance, and leadership of His Majesty the King. His Majesty has cemented the foundations of democracy.

In the historic elections of 2007 and 2008, the National Council and National Assembly elections was well-attended with an impressive voter turnout of 80 percent. This was possible only because His Majesty led the country with example and in doing so ensured that democracy enjoys the mandate and confidence of the people. The first elected parliament has received unstinted support of His Majesty the King who has graced each and every opening and closing ceremonies of each and every one of the first parliament’s 10 sessions. Furthermore, it was only with the faith, support and guidance of His Majesty that made it possible for the National Assembly and the National Council and, within the National Assembly, the ruling and the opposition parties, to fulfil their respective responsibilities while providing honest checks and balances in the service of the nation.

As far as the opposition party is concerned, we have been able to discharge our duties without any hesitation or fear and with the fullest of confidence knowing that His Majesty provides complete and unconditional support to the democratic process and the parliament.

As we close the final session of the parliament, I would like to congratulate all MPs for completing the tenure successfully and discharging their duties with dignity. I would also like to congratulate and commend the leader of the ruling party, the prime minister, the chairman of the National Council, and the speaker for successfully discharging their duties.

In any democracy, the judiciary is most important; it has to be seen as independent and separate from other arms of the government. His Majesty’s vision and guidance has made this possible, and because of that, the peole have full trust and confidence in our judiciary which is critical for a successful democracy.

Similarly, other constitutional bodies, the Anti-Corruption Commission, Election Commission of Bhutan, Royal Audit Authority, and the Royal Civil Service Commission have all been able to fulfil their constitutional mandates mainly because of His Majesty’s support and guidance.

While local governments are nowhere as independent as the constitution requires, they have also performed well and made big inroads. This is again because of the unwavering trust and support of His Majesty the King.

In the past five years, the media did not hold back and exercised their freedom to inform the nation commendably. The media could do it without fear and do it confidently because they had His Majesty’s constant support.

All agencies and players in the democratic process performed their duties without fear and with the fullest of confidence because they knew they enjoyed the blessings of His Majesty the King.

The constitution which is the bedrock of democracy was discussed with the people throughout the country before 2008. After that, His Majesty put it up to the parliament. The parliamentarians made some amendments and all amendments were fully accepted by His Majesty who granted full Royal Assent without any hesitation.

Internationally, people are amazed how democracy was introduced in Bhutan, without strike and bloodshed, and as a gift from the King to the people. Moreover, internationally, people are amazed at how successful Bhutanese democracy has become in such a short period of time. For us, Bhutanese, we must cherish our democracy as a sacred gift from the golden throne to the people. But we must also work diligently to ensure that we protect and nurture our democracy, so that it serves the people and the country for all times to come. For that, we must never allow our country to be divided. We must protect the integrity and unity of the kingdom. And we must ensure that we are united, regardless of political, religious, regional and cultural differences, as one people, under one King.

In conclusion, I, on behalf of the opposition party, take this opportunity to respectfully thank and congratulate His Majesty the King for his sterling leadership, and wish His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen a long, prosperous and healthy life so that the Bhutanese people can continue to enjoy their golden reign for many years to come.

Photo credit: His Majesty the King’s Facebook page

 

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  1. It’s always a great moment to see the contributions of His Majesty and the monarchs being acknowledged. I hope one day I will have an opportunity to come on TV (not necessarily at the NA) and say few words like you did. Great honor which Lyonpo did very well.

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