A unique example

Last year, in Sherubste College, a student asked me: “We’ve been told, many times, that democracy in Bhutan is unique – please tell me how it is unique.”

The fact of the matter is that all democracies are based on, more or less, the same principles, and none can claim to be really unique. But, on the other hand, no two democracies are exactly the same, making every democracy, unique in its own way. So to claim that our particular form of democracy is unique, in the way it is structured for example, would not make much sense.

But in one regard we are unique, and in another we must aspire to be so.

We are truly unique in the way democracy was introduced in our country – gifted, so to speak, from the Golden Throne to the people. This, we must never forget. And always celebrate.

And we must aspire to be unique in another way: in the quality of politicians that we elect. In every democracy, politicians are viewed with suspicion. They are considered, and many times proven, to be a greedy, corrupt and power-hungry lot who will go to any length to win, but who, once elected, can’t be trusted to keep their promises.

So this was my reply to the very concerned Sherubtse student: “If you want a unique democracy, insist that our politicians are unique. Insist that they empathize with the common people and that they serve them with humility. Insist that they keep their promises – that they actually walk the talk. Insist that they are the champions of our democracy. And the role models for our youth. Insist that they are unique. Then, and only then, we’ll have a unique democracy.”

Why do I remember Sherubtse? Because today, 24th March, is exactly one year since we elected 47 people to the National Assembly. So it is a fitting time to reflect if we, politicians, are fulfilling His Majesty’s vision for a vibrant and honest democracy. And to see if we, politicians, are living up to the hopes and aspirations of our people. To consider if our politicians are unique.

One politician has already proven that he is unique. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup may have lost the elections last year, but, by all accounts, he has become even more popular. Yet, in spite of his growing popularity and the strong appeals from all over our country, he resigned as PDP’s president. And he resigned for one reason alone: to take full moral responsibility for his party’s loss in the general elections last year.

Now that, in Bhutan’s context, is unique. And should be emulated by our politicians. Perhaps then, we can claim to have a truly unique democracy.


Facebook Comments:


  1. a personal opinion-
    the best politicians are those who do not make a career out of politics, but participate in governance to ensure that freedom and rights are protected. Not to take over other people’s work and do it for them, but to ensure that they are not stopped by anyone, and that their freedom and rights are not violated. So that after his term he can go back to his old job and be happy that he has ensured that he can do his thing in a safe, free and fair society.
    That is a personal opinion, of course.

  2. She Yo En says

    All that really matters is that democracy works for us. That, people’s rights are protected and that there is good corrupt free governance (by the government – both bureaucrats and politicians – as well as the civil society). My personal desire is for goodwill between the bureaucrats and politicians, rather than one winning over the other and almost controlling or even freezing it. Hope it never comes to this, but if it has to some extent, then it is indeed sad and disturbing for the country and its people. Not coming down to this level would actually give democracy in Bhutan a unique quality, I think.

  3. Lyonpo SN for BCCI President. What do you say? I think it is a realistic pursuit & will work well.

  4. Anonymous says

    dear ol…one question….
    dpt had campaigned in the last GE by warning people that if pdp is being elected bhutan would have a messy democracy…meaning that pdp would be a mere ruling party firmly under the control of yab….people were also warned by dpt that all the fertile land would be grab by yab and so on and so forth…even i was carried away by dpt’s campaign startegy and so i voted for dpt..but i dont regret cos i still feel there is a probability….so what do you say….

  5. That’s nice of him but i ‘don’t think Lyonpo was an anyway the reason why the party lost. There are so many other factors…Actually on the contarary I think he was one of the strengths (with his experience and popularity with the people he’s worked with) of the party. But anyways, i’ve no doubt that whatever lyonpo continues to do from hereon will be great and inspirational for rest of us. Good luck and god bless to lyonpo.

Leave a Reply