The auspicious 7th century A.D Lhakhang Karp, which is home to Haa’s main protective deity and one of Bhutan’s important protective deities, Ap Chhundu, served as the venue of the 110th National Day celebrations.
As people watched or listened to the important event in Bhutan on TV and radio and many Bhutanese abroad watched it live online, the main focus was on His Majesty’s address (Full address on Page 4).
As His Majesty delivered the all important address and the nation listened with bated breath, the clear and main focus of His Majesty’s address was on the sovereignty and security of Bhutan.
His Majesty said, “This is also an opportune time for me to share my views on the vital issue of our national sovereignty and security. There are two dimensions to the threats that can undermine the sovereignty and security of a nation – external and internal conditions and factors.”
With regard to the external threat, His Majesty highlighted how due to an interconnected world events in even other countries can impact Bhutan like an economic crisis or a conflict among countries in the neighborhood.
His Majesty also highlighted external threats like climate change and natural calamities, human conflict and the rise of terrorism and how all of these would be exacerbated with the growth of human population.
His Majesty then laid special emphasis on how Bhutan can weather these external and other challenges as long as the country and the people are united.
His Majesty said, “For us, it is most important that, no matter how grave the external threats may be, nothing can harm us if we are united like members of a closely bonded family. Our society, as small as it is, cannot be threatened if we are conscious of the potential threats and remain steadfast in protecting our common interests.”
His Majesty’s address then pointed out how more than external threats Bhutan can become more vulnerable due to internal instability.
His Majesty said, “The history of global and regional trends in other countries have shown that the downfall of countries are caused by failure of governments, breakdown in the rule of law, economic crises, and the growing economic disparities between the rich and the poor. People feel helpless, and lose faith and trust in their governments and in each other. Their frustrations lead to internal skirmishes extenuating religious, political and racial differences leading to political clashes, anarchy, and wars. This has destabilized economies, disintegrated governance structures, and destroyed societies and countries.”
His Majesty said that Bhutan has been most fortunate to be a close-knit community.
“Even as a small society we are resilient because of the tha damtshi (loyalty and dedication) in our personal bonds and age-old rapport that continue to be very strong. We must safe guard the integrity of our mutual relationships. It is vital that this fidelity is preserved because it is the quintessential strength of our sovereignty and security, well being, and happiness,” stated His Majesty.
His Majesty said there would always be challenges but even the most perilous crises can be faced and overcome as long as Bhutanese remain internally resolute and strong.
His Majesty said, “I have great confidence in the core values stemming from our spiritual heritage, our consensual beliefs, and our shared values. With this spirit we will be able to fulfill all our aspirations and objective far beyond our expectations.”
Addressing the economic aspect of the challenge, His Majesty said that one perennial problem is that developing countries are short of funds and lack experience and that they keep facing developmental problems until they can approach a level of self-reliance and economic stability.
While Bhutan is a developing country, His Majesty said that capable and competent people can become Bhutan’s most important asset.
“The character and nature of our people is commendable and can become an example for others,” said His Majesty.
His Majesty said that starting from the start of planned development in 1961 Bhutan has made phenomenal progress with the greatest achievement being the establishment of democracy.
His Majesty said, “I am fully optimistic about our future. If we continue to be resilient, intelligent, conscientious and work hard, guided by the philosophy and shared national vision of Gross National Happiness, we will not lose our direction.”
Giving the example of some other countries, His Majesty said that they enjoy great socio-economic and technological progress due to the hard work of their ancestors, but there are some who come to ruin as later generations turn complacent and become lazy.
His Majesty said, “They succumb to mediocrity, which, leading to mismanagement of resources and opportunities, inevitably deteriorates into corruption. This is how societies have disintegrated and nations have failed.”
His Majesty stressed that Bhutan cannot afford to be complacent as it is a small country landlocked between two giant neighbors.
India and China, His Majesty stated, have two and a half billion people of which a large portion are young, capable and skilled people who do not shirk from hard work. His Majesty said that for Bhutan to achieve equal standards of living Bhutanese have no choice but to work harder and become more capable.
His Majesty said that the resilience of a society is its ability to compete and excel in a highly competitive world.
His Majesty said, “It is important that future generations of our people become the best among the best to safeguard our sovereignty and security, and strengthen the values that have held our society together and shaped the identity of the Bhutanese people.”
His Majesty said, “We must avoid problems faced by other countries and we must be internally strong.”
His Majesty said that in this regard the most important priority is to empower the next
generation and to strengthen the youth. His Majesty said that of a population of around 700,000 people most are below the age of 28 years and 230,000 of them are in school.
“Knowing the character of our Bhutanese people, I have full confidence in our youth and I sincerely hope and pray that they will be able to serve their country,” said His Majesty.
His Majesty said that at the same time youth, must not wait for government initiatives and handouts, and for parents to push them to launch their careers.
“In a fast moving high tech world, where the only limit is your imagination, you must learn to take charge of the transition and inevitable evolution. You must take the first step forward,” said His Majesty.
His Majesty in the conclusion of the speech said, “I am particularly happy that I was able to share my thoughts and hopes for the sovereignty and security of the country.”
His Majesty’s address while remaining focused on sovereignty and security also touched on other aspects like the country’s current state, elections and democracy.
His Majesty said that 2017 has been a year of peace and tranquility and productive year during which tremendous progress was made in socio-economic development.
“We have faced no major obstacles, and the government led by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has achieved our development goals through the culmination of hard work and clarity of vision,” said His Majesty.
His Majesty said that 2018 was an important year of the third general elections and that the Election Commission of Bhutan was taking the lead in making all the preparations.
His Majesty said that the genuine enthusiasm and spontaneous public response of people from all walks of life coming forward to participate in national politics is a good sign and evidence that they have the capability, confidence, and the will to serve the nation and people.
His Majesty said, “Democracy is a timeless process in our collective endeavor to build a peaceful and prosperous nation. Democracy is the foundation of peace and tranquility, and the source of shared values for wellbeing and happiness.”