On the peaceful completion of the Glorious Ten Years of His Majesty’s Extraordinary Reign on the Palden Druki Serthri I take the honour to offer my gratitude to The Unprecedented one and Salute: “Hail to The Beloved Majesty! Long Live The King. Palden Drukpa be Forever Glorious!!!
Bhutan marched into democracy with ease and success, without any struggle and without any hindrance because our Monarchs have been the beacons that not only showed the path but also made the going pleasant and inspirational. Democracy is the wish willed by a Monarch who had the well being and betterment of the common people in all His foremost thoughts and all His actions.
The country was shocked to hear the pronouncement for drafting of the Constitution for introduction of democracy in the Kingdom of Bhutan. People were surprised to hear the news of an imminent self-abdication from the National Day Speech. Everyone was bewildered to be informed at the last Lhengye Zhungtsho Session that The King had already abdicated. These pronouncements were too successively rapid and breathless to grasp what was happening. Many questions were in the air. Why was The King in a hurry? Where we being chased? Was the young King prepared, ready and willing to shoulder so high a charge, duty and responsibility too soon and too fast ? As many in unity protested, why were we rocking the ship that was sailing smooth, safe and sure on its course?
On hindsight, there was assurance in what Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye’s oft expressed quote: “The King is always right!”
Bhutan’s transition to and consolidation of Democracy is blessed with the guidance of the supreme leadership of His Majesty The youthful King as in His Majesty’s role as Head of State Bhutan’s tryst with Democracy is on its right path. As in Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye’s another oft cited quote Bhutan’s democracy will endure and stand the test of times as: “The King will always guide Bhutan’s Democracy” and all the Kingly acts are self evident and as I dare vouch from the ring side.
When the draft election bill was presented to the National Assembly, in preparation for the onset of the democracy, the debate on a few contentious issues on the floor of the National Assembly was acrimonious and not making any headway. Eventually, had it not for the wisdom of The King the sanctity of the bill, would not have seen its day!
As unsure and uncertain as we were, we called the National Parliamentary Mock Election with the Poll Day in September 2007. We organised the election without really being convinced that voters would show up to vote as many would, given a choice, not opt for democracy.
On the day of the poll, it was a surprise for the election officials that His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was there at the Polling Station at Dungkar Nagtshang grounds encouraging the voters to vote in the poll.
On the eve of Poll Day on 24th of March 2008, His Majesty took the time to call on the Nation to motivate and cheer the Election team. A remarkable characteristic trait of His Majesty that had encouraged and inspired everyone.
On the day of the poll on 25th of March 2008, as I walked to Zilukha Polling Station to attend a live online Aljazeera interview, and to receivea call from non-other than His Majesty The King to calm my nerves that all our plans were going on well without any glitch at the Polls.
On the day after the results of the election were declared, His Majesty The King consoled and counseled the supporters of the party that did not fare well in the election to gracefully accept the verdict of the voters in the most democratic spirit.
On 17th of December 2012, His Majesty exhorted the electorate to contest and participate in exercise of their franchise at the polls.
On the eve of the 2013 Second Parliamentary Elections, the commission of ECB was put under tremendous test by oversight institutions on issues that they did not comprehend the intricacy or deliberately to discredit the election authority, a competing constitutional entity. A weak-kneed body would have morally have been floundered placing the 2013 national parliamentary elections into severe jeopardy. Having seen the strength of the stand of the election body, His Majesty The King in His regal wisdom dismissed the unwarranted assumptions.
The King in a democratic environment can be the only force that can bond, bind, nurture and shepherd as all others are forces that pull and push. This fact is also evident from democracies where the Monarch is the Head of State. Some academics see convincing merit in our kind of leadership in the context of recent electoral debacles.
Democracy means dialogue, consultation, discussion and understanding diverse points of view. Therefore, finding the middle ground, arriving at a democratic consensus, and agreement are critical. Opposing for the mere sake of opposing is fruitless.
A good point of view be accepted even it comes from opposing corners, while those that are not useful can t rejected outrigh even if it is from your close and dear ones it is said. Above all, none ought to forsake the national interest for short-term personal and partisan interest and we must meet the expectation and the services rendered by the Monarch for a Just, Equal and Harmonious Society.
His Majesty The King has been the beauty, icon and symbol of our own culture, spirituality and integrity. His thoughts, speech and body translate the values of true citizens of Palden Drukpa with the highest sense of loyalty and patriotism to His people and the country.
His Majesty is the leader who leads by action and example and is an agent for change and progress. Just as he inspires, he expects us to give our best and make things happen as His Majesty sees beauty and strength in Bhutan, a ‘Small Nation’ that can become prosperous, and remain secure and peaceful.
Bhutanese democracy would thus never shudder as it would always enjoy the moral support and guidance under the safe stewardship of His Majesty, the fountainhead of unity, as enshrined in our Constitution. Bhutan is even more secure with Three Kings, past, present and future, coexisting as symbols of a Nation with a solid past, secure present, and bright and sure future, as His Majesty succeeds in carrying out the golden legacy of the Drugyal Zhipa and hands over His Reign in the form and Shape His Majesty desires to the Sixth Druk Gyalpo.
I have every faith in the leadership of His Majesty the King and His guardianship of the Bhutanese Democracy:
“I also hold my sacred duty to ensure the success of democracy and I shall work to lay the strongest foundations for a vibrant democracy within my reign.”
His selfless conviction and commitment will continue to steer Bhutan on the right democratic course as in His Majesty’s Royal Address to the future of Bhutan, the University Graduates in 2016:
“Democracy is a means to achieve … great results..” and “it is imperative that we work towards establishing a very successful and strong democratic system”.
By Dasho Kunzang Wangdi
The writer is the former Chief Election Commissioner and currently a member of the Royal Research & Advisory Council .