Before the formal Address, His Majesty thanked the people who braved the cold and were waiting since 2 am in the morning to enter the stadium, for an opportunity to pay tribute to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. His Majesty also mentioned the numerous Bhutanese across the world who had congregated to celebrate this historic occasion, and the people of 20 dzongkhags who began their day with prayers for His Majesty Drukgyal Zhipa, before participating in celebrations that they had spent days preparing for.
Today, we come together as a nation to celebrate a special day of national pride and jubilation, which will be hallowed in the memory of all Bhutanese as a day where our past, present and future converge– an occasion to reflect on our past achievements, take stock of our present responsibilities, and pledge our efforts in planning for our bright future.
The tranquil peace, prosperity, and happiness that we enjoy in Bhutan is an outcome of the enduring sacrifice of our King of Prophecy, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck– our most revered and beloved guardian. From the moment of His Majesty’s accession to the Throne, His Majesty has worked tirelessly to fulfill all the aspirations of His people.
On this truly special day, the people of 20 dzongkhags of Bhutan feel fortunate to unite in the expression of boundless gratitude to His Majesty.
By the paramount benediction of the Triple Gem; the protection of the Guardian Deities; the devout prayers of our benevolent ancestors; and the good fortune of the people, Bhutan was blessed at the most opportune moment with an exceptional leader whose breadth and depth of service to His glorious country and beloved people are beyond our imagination.
This is an opportunity for the people to pay tribute and offer heartfelt prayers for the eternal wellbeing of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
The circumstances during which His Majesty became King in 1972 were entirely different from those we are living in today.
As a result of national development under the guidance of His Majesty, people across the 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs have access to public services and infrastructure, and are able to live in dignity and comfort.
Looking back at the beginning of His Majesty’s reign, I am struck by prevailing fiscal situation. The outlay for the third five-year plan that was in progress was a mere Nu. 300 million, contrasted to the outlay for the current 11th five-year-plan of Nu. 213 billion, in addition to which, we will spend Nu. 200 billion for hydropower development. Hydropower development has been regarded the most important cornerstone of our development, and described as the wish fulfilling gem and primary wealth of the people. Yet, in 1972, the production of the hydropower sector was barely 1 MW. There were a total of 4 high schools and 15 junior high schools in Bhutan– the first college was set up only in 1983. There were only 16 doctors in the entire country. The average life expectancy of 46 years old has increased to about 69 years today, owing to national progress along many dimensions. Road network in the country at that time consisted of a sparse 700 km. The foreign reserve of our country in terms of dollars accumulated was a miniscule US $ 4 million.
The national wealth was meager, and the hardships of the people considerable. Still, the Bhutanese people enjoyed a degree of tranquility and peace, even though the rest of the world was rife with uncertainty. While some nations were being formed, others were being demolished– it was a period of war, strife and dispute. His Majesty began His reign during such a time, and with sagacious strategy, steered our country to an age of peace and prosperity.
His Majesty prioritized above all else, the profound task of nation building, and ensured the survival of our country.
With every passing year, His Majesty safeguarded peace and harmony, and thus consolidated the sovereignty and security of Bhutan.
Recognizing the importance of capable citizenry in nation building, His Majesty empowered an entire generation of Bhutanese through education, and enabled them to stand tall in the world.
With the enlightened development philosophy of Gross National Happiness based on our Buddhist values, His Majesty engineered a system free of corruption, mismanagement and disharmony, untainted by inequality and disparity in living conditions and deprivations and tragedies for the people, as was seen in many other countries.
His Majesty’s principal objective throughout His reign was to ease the troubles of His people, fulfill their aspirations, and empower them so that the future of our nation would be invincible. In these endeavours, His Majesty succeeded beyond imagination.
His Majesty accomplished all this, and at the same time, tended to our natural environment in such a manner that Bhutan remains to this day, a haven of beauty in which beings of all realms may delight in.
His Majesty always said that our sovereignty is upheld by our cultural heritage, and as a result even today, Bhutan is suffused in our age-old values of self-discipline, responsibility and spirituality.
Throughout His Majesty’s reign of 34 years, His Majesty, as the Dharma King, extended unwavering support to religious orders, and allowed the precious teachings of Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to flourish.
The range of His Majesty’s vision for the well being of the people and security of the nation stretches far into hundreds, indeed thousands, of years.
With the august presence of His Majesty the Fourth King among us, we are shielded from any concern about sovereignty and security of the nation. This is our precious inheritance. I, and the new generation of Bhutanese, are fully committed to shoulder our own responsibilities with the greatest diligence.
His Majesty has introduced institutions for democracy, good governance, and rule of law, with such firm foundations that the people of Bhutan would continue to derive their benefits in perpetuity. This is His Majesty’s greatest legacy.
It would be impossible for me to enumerate in this short time, the vast ocean of achievements of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. I take this moment to instead reflect on some of His Majesty’s deeply held beliefs, which I have had the opportunity to study closely over the years.
His Majesty has always emphasized on the establishment of the rule of law. It is said that the failure of justice persecutes an individual, but the lack of adherence to rule of law persecutes an entire nation.
Rule of law brings about discipline in people and order in society. If there is order in society, there will be peace and trust amongst the people. His Majesty has always maintained that if there is peace and trust amongst people, the nation will achieve untold prosperity.
His Majesty strongly espoused integrity. From time immemorial, there exists an adage from Guru Rinpoche: ‘With integrity, all our endeavours will bear abundant fruit.’ If the sacred commitment of integrity exists between King, country, government and people, it will benefit the country manifold.
Finally, as the protector of the welfare of all His people, His Majesty has been a just King, acting in complete fairness to all the people. Nonetheless, His Majesty recognized the value of meritocracy, leadership, and talent in taking a small nation such as ours forward. To evoke imagery, Bhutan, small and rugged, placed between the two most populous and powerful nations of the world, is like a small animal in a vast forest. Such an animal will need skills in order to survive. In a similar manner, to fulfill our national goals and aspirations, it is important to get the services of the best and the brightest of the people.
In my years of service to His Majesty, I have had the opportunity to observe closely, His Majesty’s tireless work for the people and country, often sacrificing His own personal comfort in doing so.
In spite of His Majesty’s monumental responsibilities, His Majesty was always attentive to minute details and individual concerns.
Whenever He came across an individual, His Majesty inquired into their health and wellbeing. If someone were to submit that they were unwell, His Majesty would send His personal physician, and Himself organize appropriate medical care.
On one occasion, while inspecting the renovation of Trongsa Dzong, His Majesty was dismayed to find that concrete and iron rods were being used, and Commanded that as affluence grows, many modern structures can come up, but if age old tradition is lost, it will be difficult to revive. As a result, the renovation was carried out in a traditional manner with stone masonry, and the dzong retained its inherent beauty.
At another time, His Majesty noticed that an immense tree had disappeared. His Majesty was greatly pained to learn that the tree had been felled to make space for an office, and Commanded that a tree that takes moments to fell has taken hundreds of years to grow– such trees are part of our national treasure, and should be cared for and handed over to the future generations.
Always watchful, His Majesty would observe litter that blights our pristine environment, and express concerns on the growth of waste and their proper disposal.
During His travels across the country, His Majesty would look back with disapproval at the length of the entourage, and would send back half the vehicles in order to cut back on fuel use. His Majesty’s concerns arose from a deep sense of value for national wealth, having seen at young age how difficult it was to even buy two jeeps for the country during His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo’s reign, and having painstakingly accrued whatever wealth we have today. To His Majesty the Fourth King, even a single Ngultrum was valuable, to be used most judiciously for the benefit of His people.
We all recognize in His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, the consummate Bodhisattva. But we must realize that it was not His Majesty’s infinite compassion alone that delivered such tremendous success for our country.
In His work, His Majesty was unyielding and stern. His Majesty’s Commands were regarded as precious and weighty, and it was well known that halfhearted efforts and mediocrity met His Majesty’s disapproval.
His Majesty did not tolerate dishonesty, incompetence, and malfeasance when it came to matters of national importance.
This was because His Majesty considered governance to be no trivial matter– the responsibility of a nation was, for His Majesty, exacting beyond measure.
His Majesty always said that He bore this most onerous responsibility with the one thought, that death would be a better alternative to failure– and achieved phenomenal success precisely due to the gravity with which His Majesty regarded His duties.
With such unparalleled determination, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo achieved in 34 years what would have otherwise required the efforts of two lifetimes.
During this rare moment that will remain forever imprinted in the memories of the people, I would like to express the deep sense of gratitude that we feel towards His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo and Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, for having gifted the people of Bhutan such an extraordinary leader– a jewel among men.
Similarly, I also thank Their Majesties the Queens of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, for their tremendous love, support and devotion to His Majesty, while His Majesty was preoccupied with the issues and concerns of the nation and the people in a single minded way.
I acknowledge the steadfast fealty and dedication of the government officials, civil servants, and armed force personnel serving His Majesty.
Our gratitude is also due to the people of Bhutan, who reposed their unwavering confidence in the leadership of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
Finally, the clergy have carried out important religious events over the decades, and continue to offer prayers for the longevity and well being of His Majesty, for which I express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.
His Majesty assumed the mantle and responsibilities of Kingship at the age of 16, when ordinary people are still growing up. By the age of 51, when most people are still striving to achieve their lifelong goals, His Majesty, at the height of His golden reign, abdicated the throne after having accomplished prodigious feats. Where ordinary people crave wealth and power, His Majesty crowned a new King, introduced democracy and handed over the responsibility of governance to His people. Such an act of superlative altruism was unprecedented in the history of the world.
In all His actions, His Majesty was a farsighted visionary, a benefactor of His people, whose strategies for the country demonstrated impeccable clarity of thought, and whose realization of national objectives bespoke of unassailable determination and excellent statesmanship.This is why we revere His Majesty as the Father of the Nation.
On this most auspicious of occasions, as we celebrate the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, I am deeply pleased to announce that Jetsun and I look forward to the birth of our son in the coming Losar. We are overjoyed to offer this news as a gift on His Majesty’s Birth Anniversary.
As a son, I feel fortunate to offer prayers for the wellbeing of my Father. I take it as a special blessing to also have the opportunity to offer prayers as a father, for my son. Since he will carry forward our future, the prince will be a son to all Bhutanese.
I consider my son extremely fortunate, because he will be born in our blessed country. We owe our good fortune, our peace, prosperity, and security to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
Today, we are gathered here to offer our gratitude, tribute and respects to His Majesty. But for His Majesty, there can be no greater tribute, expression of gratitude and respect, than our whole-hearted pledge that we will hand over to the next generation, an even stronger, even more prosperous, and even more successful nation, and serve our country in such a manner that thousands of generations after us will continue to reap the fruits of our labours.