His Majesty’s Address to the Nation on the 107th National Day

After the 9th year since I was enthroned, it is my profound pleasure to celebrate the National Day here in Kanglung, in a Dzongkhag that is traditionally known as the Sharchog Khorlo Tsipgyed (the eight spokes of the eastern wheel).

It is a momentous occasion for the people to be blessed with the gracious presence of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo. People of all ages from remote corners of the east have come to attend the celebrations.

As we celebrate the 107th National Day, I wish all the people across the country a heartfelt Tashi Delek.

The National Day provides us with multiple opportunities: to recall the great sacrifices made by our forefathers for the sake of the nation, to fully understand our national challenges, and to motivate ourselves to do the best for the future of our nation. It is a special day in the year to once again recommit ourselves to worthwhile efforts to serve our country better.

Ours is a special nation, blessed and protected by Guru Rinpochhe and where Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the cornerstone of our aspirations and faith, established a dual institutional system of monastic and civilian authorities. As history evolved, successive Desis served to strengthen the sovereignty and security of the country. Political changes culminated in the collective choice of the people to establish monarchy, and on this day, His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned as the First King of Bhutan. The successive Kings of Bhutan rendered invaluable service to the country and the people towards happiness and prosperity. It is because of the leadership of the successive Kings of Bhutan and the contributions of the people that we have brought our country to this marvellous and exemplary stage of achievement of happiness and prosperity.

We must continue to exert formidable effort in order to achieve all our National Goals. With changing times, we will confront new challenges, but if we pledge to work together in an intelligent, resourceful manner, like our ancestors have before us, we will overcome every difficulty.

We owe our exceptionally advantageous circumstances today to the noble and tireless efforts of His Majesty our beloved Fourth Druk Gyalpo. The triple gem and our protective deities favoured us extraordinarily by giving us His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo during a critical moment in our history. Our country has seen incredible progress since His Majesty’s Coronation in 1972, when the third five-year plan budget was a mere Nu 350 million. At present, Bhutan spends more than Nu 7 billion a year on food imports, let alone the plan budget size.

Our people are now more prosperous, proficient, and astute regarding matters of the world; and Bhutan is stronger and more advanced than ever before. From a life of hardships and limited opportunity, His Majesty has brought us to the radiant today that we have.

His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo brought the nation out of darkness to light. For the remarkable transformation His Majesty brought to the nation, the people consider His Majesty to be the embodiment of Rigsum Gonpo. When the nation’s security was threatened, his form was like Vajrapani (Chana Dorji) defending bravely the country without fear for his life. His Majesty took the cause of wellbeing and happiness of his beloved people like a manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesharva (Chenrizig). The clarity of His Majesty’s visionary policies that still shine and guide us in our path of good development was similar to that emanating from Manjushri (Jambayang). For these reasons, it is an opportune day for all Bhutanese to collectively express the debt of infinite gratitude to His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and to join together in heartfelt prayer for His Majesty’s long life and good health.

In the past, the National Day address has included several areas of national concern. Last year I expressed concern about certain economic situations. We were burdened with debt, and rupee shortage led to acute liquidity crunch, putting pressure on banks and hampering businesses, and causing inflation. These problems continue to persist.

I commend the government for the ambitious scale of the 11th plan, and the manner in which they have handled the 4 hydropower projects, which are under construction. And I look forward to the Kholongchu Hydropower Project, with the anticipation that it will be hugely beneficial to the six eastern dzongkhags.

Our national ambitions, and the corresponding workload are increasing progressively.

The budget for the 9th five-year plan was Nu. 70 billion, and one hydropower project was initiated during that time. During the 10th five-year plan, the budget increased by over 100% to Nu. 146 billion, and 4 hydropower projects were initiated. With the 11th five-year plan, we have a budget of more than Nu. 213 billion, and besides the Kholongchu project, feasibility for 4 more hydropower projects are being considered. This means in the near future, we will be tasked with the implementation of 9 hydropower projects, which is a heavy responsibility for the government.

It is good to be ambitious. From one standpoint, more is better and having something is better than not having anything at all. But we must also realize that increased workload compounds associated risks and possible failures. We must ask ourselves, ‘are we willing and able to take on this responsibility? Can our financial resources be matched by our human capital?’

The main aspiration of the people is that the 11th plan will succeed, and prosperity will grow all around the country. The realization of this goal depends more than ever on the government’s commitment to good governance, which should include check and balance, openness and transparency. The people must take individual responsibility and make a collective effort, instead of depending solely on the government.

The highest probable risk to development that I foresee is corruption. Our national development efforts will be hindered by unchecked corruption. The formulation of plans and programs may be done well, aimed at the wellbeing of the people. Impressive amount of budget may be disbursed in line with these plans. But as the activities become too numerous, oversight and monitoring may fall short, allowing some people to be corrupt. Although a large amount of resources are spent, projects may not be accomplished as designed and quality of the projects may suffer seriously. At the end, such activities may become a matter of regret and disillusionment for the people and immense loss for the government and the country.

Corruption is unambiguous- there is no great or small corruption. And no one can be above the law.

But there is an even greater threat– ignoring corruption. When the corrupt are not held to account, those who observe due diligence, work hard and professionally are most likely to be discouraged. We mustn’t allow the latter to lose morale by rewarding everyone indiscriminately, irrespective of his or her performance. That is why, corruption must be curtailed and, more than ever before, extraordinary service must be recognized and rewarded.

As our nation marches forward, we will be required to exert tremendous effort.  But I have absolute confidence in our ability to achieve great things. People who travelled to Bhutan more than a hundred years ago have documented their admiration for the ingenuity and sophistication of the Bhutanese in governance, agriculture, architecture, engineering, irrigation, and various other sciences. Today we have more knowledge and resources in our grasp, and the possibilities are immense.

We are at the crossroads where the decision to act will make all the difference between success and failure.

I hold our national goals, concerns and our destiny as a nation close to my heart, having received this sacred responsibility at an early age from my Father, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo. From the day I became King, I have solemnly vowed to serve the people and country arduously and put the aspirations of my people above all else. In this endeavor, you, my people, have placed your support, trust and affection upon me.

Our dreams, aspirations and prayers are one- to ensure that our security and sovereignty, peace and harmony remain intact- that our society grows increasingly enlightened and prosperous, that we establish a strong democracy, which will fulfill all the aspirations of our people, and build a bright future for successive generations. We shall create unity and harmony amongst the people so that they continue to take pride in being Bhutanese and have a deep sense of belonging to the glorious nation of Palden Drukpa.

In conclusion, my wish and prayer for our nation, blessed by Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and strengthened by the visionary leadership of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck- is to work hard to realize our collective aspirations to build a just, equitable and civil society.

Awards and Recognition

I am pleased to announce that from next year onwards, three new medals will be introduced to recognize various individuals for their service to the nation.

The first will be for extraordinary service to country, for those bureaucrats, civil servants, teachers, business owners, and private individuals, who have rendered services beyond their duty at the cost of great personal sacrifice. The people are best equipped to identify such individuals in their community, and it will be your responsibility to bring them forward.

Secondly, individuals who display outstanding innovation and creativity for the betterment of the country in various fields will be recognized.

Finally, in view of the great bearing that efficient management of our limited resources will have on our national progress, those individuals who contribute to efficiency and cost saving, will be recognized.

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