THE VI­SION­ARY DRAGON KING: A TRUE PA­TRIOT OF THE KING­DOM OF BHUTAN

A Trib­ute to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wanghuck on his 60th Birth An­niver­sary for his Self­less Ser­vice to the Peo­ple of Bhutan

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Acoun­try and its peo­ple are prod­ucts of the past- an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of ex­pe­ri­ences and cir­cum­stances, de­ci­sions and choices, and in­her­ited traits and lessons. A coun­try can­not be sep­a­rated from its peo­ple- We are Bhutan, and Bhutan is Us.

When we think of Bhutan and how far we have come to­gether as a peo­ple, as a na­tion, we look to His Majesty the Great Fourth, and we see the sym­bol of our coun­try, the re­flec­tion of our great­est selves.

His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck is a true pa­triot of the King­dom of Bhutan- a leader that be­lieved in coun­try above all else. The story of the Great Fourth King is one that ev­ery Bhutanese will tell.

To­day, we will re­mem­ber His legacy, and we will re­flect on all the lessons he has taught us.

His Majesty the Great Fourth King’s Kasho is­sued on 9th De­cem­ber 2006 reads:

“As I hand over my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to my son, I re­pose my full faith and belief in the peo­ple of Bhutan to look after the fu­ture of our na­tion, for it is the Bhutanese peo­ple who are the true custodians of our tra­di­tion and cul­ture and the ul­ti­mate guardians of the se­cu­rity, sovereignty and con­tin­ued well-be­ing of our coun­try.”

It was his faith in the peo­ple of Bhutan from the be­gin­ning of his reign, and his com­mit­ment to se­cure Bhutan’s sovereignty and well-be­ing that makes him Bhutan’s Ul­ti­mate Pa­triot.

Res­o­lute Strength and Wis­dom

In 1972, Bhutan grieved for the loss of our Third King. Our Na­tion had lost a great leader, a son had lost his fa­ther, and in this mo­ment of loss, a young King had to ex­hibit great strength and pur­pose to lead his coun­try, and in­spire con­fi­dence in his peo­ple. He promised to gov­ern his coun­try, and peo­ple with ut­most ded­i­ca­tion, as he took the throne at the age of 16, as the youngest monarch in the world.

In his corona­tion ad­dress, he made a pledge, which held true his en­tire reign. His words re­vealed this, when in his corona­tion speech he said:

“As far as you, my peo­ple are con­cerned, you should not adopt the at­ti­tude that what­ever is re­quired to be done for your wel­fare will be done en­tirely by the gov­ern­ment. On the con­trary, a lit­tle ef­fort on your part will be much more ef­fec­tive than a great deal of ef­fort on the part of the gov­ern­ment. If the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple can join hands and work with de­ter­mi­na­tion, our peo­ple will achieve pros­per­ity and our na­tion will be­come strong and sta­ble…If ev­ery­one of us con­sider our­selves Bhutanese, and think and act as one, and if we have faith in the triple gem, our glo­ri­ous king­dom of Bhutan will grow from strength to strength and achieve pros­per­ity, peace, and hap­pi­ness.”

If one thing can be said, His Majesty is a man of his words. Right from His Corona­tion ad­dress to his last Kasho to the peo­ple, there is con­sis­tency in his words, his thoughts, and ac­tions.

Bhutan in 1972 was very dif­fer­ent from what we are now. Our coun­try had just opened our doors to the out­side world, we had a small pop­u­la­tion of ed­u­cated cit­i­zens and bu­reau­cracy, our econ­omy was small, we were eco­nom­i­cally de­pen­dent, sovereignty was still an is­sue we had to tackle, and our na­tional iden­tity as united Bhutanese was yet to be forged.

His Majesty set out to over­come th­ese many ob­sta­cles from the start. He looked at our great­est chal­lenges and planned to fix and solve each one of them. In 2006, when he stepped down he had suc­cess­fully achieved all that he set out to, and had cleared the path for Bhutan, en­sur­ing our safe pas­sage into the fu­ture.

The Gov­ern­ment and Peo­ple to Join Hands

It is gen­er­ally said that, “power cor­rupts” or “with power comes re­spon­si­bil­ity.” His­tory has shown the na­ture of power. Yet our tiny Hi­malayan King­dom pos­sessed a leader who showed the world that power meant obli­ga­tion and great re­spon­si­bil­ity. He is rare, for he de­sired to de­volve his power to the peo­ple. He be­lieved from the be­gin­ning that ul­ti­mately the suc­cesses of a coun­try de­pended on the peo­ple, and that the peo­ple should hold the means to con­tribut­ing to this end. His Majesty be­gan de­volv­ing power start­ing with de­cen­tral­iz­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive pow­ers to lo­cal gov­ern­ment in 1981, in­tro­duc­ing the Dzongkhag Yar­gay Tshogchung, and in 1991, the Ge­wog Yar­gay Tshogchung.

In 1998, the Cab­i­net was elected by the Na­tional Assem­bly, and ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers of the King were handed over to them. His Majesty’s procla­ma­tion to the Na­tional Assem­bly reads:

“I have been work­ing hard to pre­pare the peo­ple to fully par­tic­i­pate with alert­ness and com­mit­ment, in the sys­tem of de­cid­ing mat­ters of our coun­try. It is im­por­tant to pro­mote par­tic­i­pa­tion of peo­ple in the sys­tem of de­ci­sion­mak­ing. It is my wish and prayer to amend the sys­tem of Cab­i­net Min­is­ters and grad­u­ally trans­fer the ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers to the elected Cab­i­net Min­is­ters for the pros­per­ity and wel­fare of our coun­try….and it is my wish that the Na­tional Assem­bly will de­cide about the sys­tem of cast­ing vote of no con- fi­dence against the Druk Gyalpo…”

At a time when some lead­ers in the world were re­fus­ing to de­volve power, he made the fi­nal move in our evo­lu­tion and jour­ney to democ­racy. On 4th Septem­ber 2001, he briefed gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials on the need to draft a Con­sti­tu­tion for the King­dom of Bhutan. He ini­ti­ated the draft­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion, con­sti­tut­ing a 39 mem­ber draft­ing com­mit­tee, and re­vised and cre­ated the Con­sti­tu­tion to in­tro­duce a sys­tem of democ­racy, and it’s safe­guards for our coun­try and peo­ple.

He de­sired that the peo­ple take on the Con­sti­tu­tion as our own and hold it as a re­flec­tion of our hopes, as­pi­ra­tions, and guid­ing light for the fu­ture. A pub­lic ref­er­en­dum took place, when His Majesty and His Majesty the Fifth King took the Con­sti­tu­tion to the 20 dzongkhags where a mem­ber of each house­hold was rep­re­sented.

When we look back, we now know that what was hap­pen­ing to us was all part of a plan- we were be­ing pre­pared and grad­u­ally trans­formed as a na­tion. Almost in cy­cles that came ev­ery decade, a metic­u­lous plan was pa­tiently charted out, that cul­mi­nated in the in­tro­duc­tion of democ­racy for our coun­try.

He put in place almost ev­ery­thing that is re­quired to make democ­racy vi­brant. The grounds had been pre­pared. We were ready. Ed­u­ca­tion was given high­est pri­or­ity, a well­ex­pe­ri­enced cab­i­net had been groomed, grass­roots had been em­pow­ered, and the peo­ple had em­braced a new or­der. The Ju­di­ciary

had been strength­ened. The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion was es­tab­lished to en­sure free and fair elec­tions. The Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion to curb and root out cor­rup­tion from the very be­gin­ning. Me­dia was given au­ton­omy and free press was in­tro­duced.

It was then that His Majesty re­lin­quished his throne, and handed over a demo­cratic con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy to our able and pre­pared peo­ple, and un­der the lead­er­ship of a most ca­pa­ble heir.

In his Ab­di­ca­tion Kasho (9 De­cem­ber 2006) he pro­claimed:

“What­ever we have achieved so far is due to the merit of the peo­ple of Bhutan…I re­pose my full faith and belief in the peo­ple of Bhutan to look after the fu­ture of our na­tion, for it is the Bhutanese peo­ple who are the true custodians of our tra­di­tion and cul­ture and ul­ti­mate guardians of the se­cu­rity, sovereignty and con­tin­ued well­be­ing of our coun­try.”

He stepped down prais­ing the merit of the peo­ple of Bhutan and giv­ing all credit to the peo­ple for our achieve­ments. He showed us self­less­ness and wis­dom all through his reign. He took noth­ing but gave his whole life to the peo­ple and the coun­try. A life of ex­am­ple he led, set­ting the stan­dard so high, that the Bhutanese peo­ple now de­mand noth­ing less of lead­er­ship in our coun­try.

He took Bhutan to the great­est heights, and to our Golden Era, our re­nais­sance, in just over three decades.

Se­cu­rity and Sovereignty

In our his­tory when­ever we have been faced with threat and chal­lenges we have risen and over­come be­cause of courage and re­silience of the Bhutanese peo­ple. In the 1990s’ Bhutan was chal­lenged with a loom­ing is­sue of cit­i­zen­ship and im­mi­gra­tion. In a small coun­try such as ours, our iden­tity was a mat­ter of sur­vival, and unity the means to it. Sel­f­re­liance, Sovereignty and Se­cu­rity were chal­lenges that had to be tack­led dur­ing His Majesty’s reign. It is im­por­tant to know that Ar­ti­cle 2 of the 1949 Treaty be­tween In­dia and Bhutan was re­vised into a new treaty of 2007. This was sig­nif­i­cant for Bhutan. Th­ese were nec­es­sary ob­sta­cles to over­come for a sov­er­eign na­tion mov­ing ahead in the world.

In 1995 three groups of In­dian mil­i­tants set up camps in Bhutanese soil il­le­gally. Over the years they had es­tab­lished 30 camps within the ter­ri­tory of Bhutan threat­en­ing the se­cu­rity and un­der­min­ing the sovereignty of Bhutan. We ne­go­ti­ated for many years for peace­ful dis­so­lu­tion of th­ese camps. His Majesty him­self took the lead in th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions, vis­it­ing each and ev­ery camp and talk­ing to their lead­ers. Th­ese mis­sions were dan­ger­ous, and were un­der­taken re­gard­less of the risks. With im­mi­nent threat to our peo­ple and as peace­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions did not ma­te­ri­al­ize, a dif­fi­cult decision was made to pro­tect our coun­try’s sovereignty and se­cu­rity. On 15 De­cem­ber 2003 we went to bat­tle- a day that would de­cide the fu­ture of Bhutan.

His Majesty him­self led the troops to bat­tle to re­move the mil­i­tants from our coun­try. His Majesty made sure that ev­ery strat­egy and plan was ex­e­cuted and that our troops re­mained coura­geous in daunt­ing un­cer­tainty, but ready to safe­guard our na­tion as true sons of the Pelden Drukpa. Again, this was not luck, but the per­fect ex­e­cu­tion of a bril­liant strat­egy, and in less than 48 hours he had se­cured our coun­try.

On re­turn from the south to our cap­i­tal after our vic­tory, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and the peo­ple wanted to cel­e­brate. How­ever, His Majesty the King com­manded that there would be no cel­e­bra­tions, in­stead we must pray for the lives lost from both sides in the bat­tle­field. There was no need for ap­plause and cel­e­bra­tion, for this was ones duty, at a time when the na­tion needed it most. It was the ul­ti­mate test, and His Majesty was will­ing to put him­self in harms way in or­der to pro­tect our coun­try and peo­ple. It was the ul­ti­mate self-sacrifice. Iden­tity and Unity Bhutan’s cul­ture and tra­di­tions, our en­vi­ron­ment, and spir­i­tu­al­ity all de­fine who we are. Our iden­tity as a small na­tion de­pended on our abil­ity to stand united and strong, un­shaken by forces, and as a unique and proud na­tion. En­vi­ron­men­tally, eco­nom­i­cally, cul­tur­ally, and spir­i­tu­ally we had reached the peak dur­ing his Majesty’s gov­ern­ment due to the wise and strong poli­cies that were in place. Our diplo­matic re­la­tions with In­dia was stronger than ever be­fore, and in 2003 we had gained the re­spect of a great friend. Bhutan has within a short span of time gained re­spect, and re­pute for our unique way of do­ing things, and emerged as a source of in­spi­ra­tion to many.

De­vel­op­ment for the Peo­ple

Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness was en­vi­sioned, as a pol­icy for our gov­ern­ment that was rooted in the belief that, de­vel­op­ment should be for the peo­ple. His Majesty be­lieved that the ul­ti­mate goal was the con­tent­ment of the peo­ple, and that we should not com­pro­mise our en­vi­ron­ment, cul­ture, and tra­di­tions for the sake of so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. We were to take a bal­anced ap­proach- the ‘mid­dle path’ in all our poli­cies keep­ing in mind that all el­e­ments of our unique­ness and iden­tity, be­liefs and val­ues, and se­cu­rity must never be for­saken, and that all must be nur­tured in har­mo­nious bal­ance.

Prayers to the Triple Gem

The qual­i­ties of His Majesty are in­fi­nite, and his legacy un­shake­able. Bhutan was des­tined to have a King like Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and his legacy will live on in our conscience, and in our spir­its as long as there is Bhutan.

The Fifth Druk Gyalpo said:

“The Fourth Druk Gyalpo is our pre­cious gem, the un­fal­ter­ing par­ent and the god to whom we can rely and pros­trate…. In the his­tory of Bhutan no King like him was ever born, and will not be born in the fu­ture. His ac­tions are not his­toric just for Bhutan, but even for the world.”

His Majesty, Jigme Singye Wangchuck from the very be­gin­ning of his reign worked tire­lessly to­wards en­trust­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity to the peo­ple. We at­tribute Bhutan’s master­strokes, our golden era to him- the ar­chi­tect, master states­man, mil­i­tary com­man­der, and self­less, wise and com­pas­sion­ate leader.

We now have a unique sys­tem of democ­racy in place to safe­guard our peo­ple and coun­try. We the peo­ple have the duty to serve our coun­try to en­sure a bet­ter and brighter fu­ture for Bhutan. We can­not fail now when we have been en­trusted with the finest val­ues, and fruits of count­less sacrifice and hard work. As we cel­e­brate as a Na­tion, and pay homage to Bhutan’s most pre­cious Jewel, it is also a time for re­flec­tion.

The Fifth Druk Gyalpo is the finest man­i­fes­ta­tion of his fa­ther. He is the ‘Peo­ple’s King’ and has all the qual­i­ties nur­tured within him of a true pa­triot.

In his Corona­tion Ad­dress His Majesty reached out to the en­tire na­tion and con­nected with each and ev­ery cit­i­zen when he said:

“It is with im­mense grat­i­tude and hu­mil­ity that at this young age, I as­sume the sa­cred duty to serve a spe­cial peo­ple and coun­try. Through­out my reign I will never rule as a King. I will pro­tect you as a par­ent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you ev­ery­thing and keep noth­ing;… I have no per­sonal goals other than to ful­fill your hopes and as­pi­ra­tions. I shall al­ways serve you, day and night, in the spirit of kind­ness, jus­tice and equal­ity.”

When we talk of vi­sion­ary lead­ers, it is in­nate character that de­ter­mines the right vi­sion, but more so is knowl­edge of ones coun­try and peo­ple, and un­wa­ver­ing dis­ci­pline and con­vic­tion in work­ing tire­lessly, never giv­ing up on bet­ter­ing the lives of ones peo­ple. Their Majesties pos­sess th­ese qual­i­ties, and we can be proud to­day, and cel­e­brate this.

I ask you all to stand up, and let us pray for His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo’s good health and long life. May the Guardians of the Pelden Drukpa pro­tect our coun­try and peo­ple, and may the sun of peace, hap­pi­ness, and pros­per­ity shine on us for all times to come.

TASHI DELEK The Bhutan Na­tional Le­gal In­sti­tute as a trib­ute and to Com­mem­o­rate His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo on at­tain­ing 60, has un­der­taken a pro­gram on Lec­ture Se­ries to 20 Dzongkhags (In­sti­tu­tions, Col­leges and Schools) on the above speech pre­pared by HRH Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, the Hon’ble Pres­i­dent of BNLI

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