His Majesty’s Ad­dress

...at the Clos­ing Cer­e­mony of the 7th ses­sion of the 2nd Par­lia­ment

Bhutan Times - - Front Page -

Iam pleased to be here to­day to ad­dress the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the 7th Ses­sion of the Se­cond Par­lia­ment.

As we carry out the im­mensely im­por­tant du­ties re­lated to na­tion build­ing, the mem­bers of the Na­tional Assem­bly and the Na­tional Coun­cil, who to­gether con­sti­tute the 72 Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment of Bhutan, carry with them a sa­cred re­spon­si­bil­ity.

It is my per­sonal ob­ser­va­tion over the years that our par­lia­men­tar­i­ans have car­ried out their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties du­ti­fully and well.

An im­por­tant re­spon- sibil­ity of the mem­bers of par­lia­ment, as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple, is to un­der­stand the views, con­cerns, and the ground re­al­i­ties of our peo­ple, to con­sult with them on na­tional de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and poli­cies in the process of law­mak­ing, to keep them in­formed, and en­sure that the will of the peo­ple is re­flected ad­e­quately in all de­ci­sions of na­tional im­por­tance.

Like­wise, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans have the duty to en­sure that a strong sys­tem of check and bal­ance ex­ists. Our par­lia­men­tar­i­ans have been ful­fill­ing th­ese du­ties ex­cep­tion­ally well.

In the span of eigh­tand-a-half years since the tran­si­tion to par­lia­men­tary democ­racy, the first and se­cond par­lia­ments to­gether have con­vened a to­tal of 18 ses­sions. Dur­ing this pe­riod, 35 laws were en­acted, 14 amended, 18 re­pealed, and 25 in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions rat­i­fied by the leg­isla­tive body.

In the course of their du­ties, our par­lia­men­tar­i­ans have been ju­di­cious in the selec­tion of bills for dis­cus­sion, choos­ing those which are rel­e­vant and ben­e­fi­cial to our peo­ple. In ad­di­tion, they have re­searched the var­i­ous is­sues com­pre­hen­sively, and fi­nally, car­ried out ex­ten­sive de­lib­er­a­tions in par­lia­ment, in or­der to en­dorse their fi­nal de­ci­sions af­ter ar­riv­ing at a con­sen­sus.

Our democ­racy is strength­ened each year as we gain in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence. The mem­bers of the par­lia­ment have con­ducted them­selves im­pec­ca­bly, and have pre­scribed to ex­cel­lent stan­dards of deco­rum dur­ing par­lia­men­tary pro­ceed­ings, and as a re­sult, we have been able to set a good prece­dence for the fu­ture. I com­mend our par­lia­men- tar­i­ans and express my heart­felt ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

The cur­rent gov­ern­ment, since it took over in 2013, has been work­ing to­wards the well­be­ing and progress of our peo­ple and coun­try. Bal­anced so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is cen­tral to this en­deavor, as out­lined in the 11th Five Year Plan. The out­lay for the 11th plan is Nu 213 bil­lion, which makes it by far, the largest plan we have ever un­der­taken.

In ad­di­tion to this, there are nu­mer­ous other projects out­side the plan, in­clud­ing the ma­jor hy­dropower projects. Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties are be­ing car­ried out suc­cess­fully across the 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs, as re­flected in the mid-term re­view that was com­pleted re­cently. I ex­tend my full sup­port to the gov­ern­ment as it car­ries out th­ese im­por­tant ac­tiv­i­ties.

This is the tenth year since I be­came King, and it has been eight-anda-half years since we tran­si­tioned to par­lia­men­tary democ­racy. Our ex­pe­ri­ence so far has been one of suc­cess. But more im­por­tantly, when I look ahead, I find that there are many rea­sons to be happy and con­fi­dent about our fu­ture.

Let me broadly elab­o­rate on four of th­ese rea­sons:

Firstly, our coun­try is getting smaller due to in­creased con­nec­tiv­ity. The road net­work through­out the coun­try has be­come bet­ter and more ex­ten­sive, mak­ing it much eas­ier for our peo­ple to travel, work and trade. The num­ber of mo­bile phones in the coun­try is fast catch­ing up to our pop­u­la­tion, en­abling our peo­ple to con­nect to each other from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try with ease. In­ter­net reach has ex­panded, al­low­ing our peo­ple, es­pe­cially the youth, to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion and news more eas­ily than ever be­fore. Through tele­vi­sion, peo­ple are up to date with the news and cur­rent events. All th­ese have brought our peo­ple closer to each other and have closed the gap be­tween the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple, thereby greatly help­ing with so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, and en­hanc­ing the prosperity of our peo­ple. More im­por­tantly, this will greatly ben­e­fit our democ­racy.

Se­condly, with greater ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and ex­pe­ri­ences, our peo­ple are bet­ter ed­u­cated and more con­fi­dent, and our so­ci­ety as a whole smarter than ever be­fore.

Thirdly, our in­sti­tu­tions are getting stronger. For our new demo­cratic sys­tem, we es­tab­lished new demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, and en­acted new laws. We be­gan with lim­ited ex­pe­ri­ence, and were cer­tainly faced with chal­lenges. Along the way, we were able to iden­tify our weak­nesses, re­spond to change, and ad­dress prob­lems in a timely man­ner. That is the true mark of a strong and ca­pa­ble in­sti­tu­tion. As a re­sult of our ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment, our in­sti­tu­tions con­tinue to grow stronger each year.

And fi­nally, tremen­dous work has been put in over the course of many years, to lay firm foun­da­tions for our democ­racy. All this was new to us, and we didn’t have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence to fall back upon. More­over, party pol­i­tics was an en­tirely new con­cept for Bhutan. Yet, we man­aged to steer our coun­try in the right di­rec­tion from the very be­gin­ning, and in the course of 8 years, we have gained in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence and built a sta­ble democ­racy.

The King, coun­try, and peo­ple of Bhutan have a com­mon as­pi­ra­tion for our democ­racy– we aspire for a democ­racy with rule of law, democ­racy with unity, democ­racy with in­tegrity, democ­racy with tal­ent and mer­i­toc­racy, democ­racy that is re­spon­si­ble, and democ­racy that serves.

Our democ­racy must meet the needs of the peo­ple and coun­try, while at the same time, our peo­ple must al­ways have con­fi­dence in the fu­ture of our democ­racy. If, through th­ese en­deav­ors, we cre­ate a just and har­mo­nious so­ci­ety, we will truly have a peo­ple’s democ­racy.

Democ­racy is re­garded as the best form of gov­er­nance around the world, and we con­sider it among our most im­por­tant na­tional ob­jec­tives. But democ­racy has failed in many coun­tries. There­fore, we can­not be com­pla­cent that things are go­ing well for us, but re­main cau­tious and con­tinue to serve to the best of our abil­i­ties.

Jet­sun and I have been filled with a pro­found sense of joy since the day of the birth of our son in Fe­bru­ary this year. I now have an added re­spon­si­bil­ity– to raise my son in the man­ner that I was brought up by my Fa­ther. I must en­sure that when his time comes, my son is able to serve his peo­ple and coun­try in an ex­cep­tional and ex­em­plary man­ner. My en­deavor will be to im­part all that I know to him. While I will be his teacher to­day, my prayer is that one day, I will be the one who learns from him.

El­ders of­ten say that when you have chil­dren, your en­tire per­spec­tive changes. Per­haps some of you have won­dered how the re­spon­si­bil­ity of fa­ther­hood has af­fected me.

I have al­ways worked with an over­whelm­ing sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fu­ture. As a fa­ther, when I hold my son and look into his eyes, I re­al­ize that I am not the only par­ent in our coun­try. As par­ents, we all want the fu­ture of our chil­dren to be brighter than our own. It is our col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to hand over a coun­try that is stronger, more peace­ful, and more pros­per­ous, to our chil­dren.

That is why, we must be the ones to make sac­ri­fices, take cal­cu­lated risks and to take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mak­ing tough de­ci­sions– to do ev­ery­thing that needs to be done to se­cure the fu­ture.

To re­turn to the ques­tion, have my per­spec­tives changed af­ter I be­came a fa­ther? The an­swer is no. They have only been reinforced since the birth of my son.

In 2008, the peo­ple of Bhutan came to­gether to cel­e­brate my Coro­na­tion with great re­joic­ing. Our peo­ple cel­e­brated the Royal Wed­ding, the 60th Birth An­niver­sary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and the birth of my son, in a sim­i­lar man­ner.

Dur­ing the mil­i­tary ac­tion in 2003, the peo­ple of Bhutan were united and loyal in their ser­vice to the na­tion. In 2008, the en­tire coun­try re­sponded with whole­hearted par­tic­i­pa­tion to the royal ini­tia­tive to es­tab­lish democ­racy. To this day, when­ever a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter strikes, every cit­i­zen of Bhutan steps for­ward in­stinc­tively in sup­port and sol­i­dar­ity.

The peo­ple of Bhutan cel­e­brated the birth of Jigme Nam­gyel Wangchuck with pro­found joy and to­geth­er­ness, and of­fered their heart­felt wishes and prayers. The rea­son for the spe­cial man­ner of cel­e­bra­tion went be­yond the oc­ca­sion of the birth of a Prince.

The way in which we come to­gether in times of hap­pi­ness or dif­fi­cul­ties, shows that more than ever be­fore, we are united by a strong sense of a shared iden­tity, and take im­mense pride in be­ing Bhutanese. We are bound as mem­bers of a sin­gle fam­ily, with tremen­dous con­cern and care for each other’s well­be­ing.

On this aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion, I take the op­por­tu­nity to express our heart­felt grat­i­tude to our beloved Druk­gyal Zhipa, to whom we owe all our hap­pi­ness and suc­cess as a na­tion and peo­ple, for His Majesty’s pre­cious bless­ings dur­ing the birth of our son.

I would also like to express my grat­i­tude to Jet­sun - my part­ner and my best friend, for her con­stant love and sup­port, and for be­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary mother to our son.

And lastly, I thank the peo­ple of the twenty dzongkhags for your never-end­ing sup­port and af­fec­tion. All my en­deav­ours in this life­time re­main pledged in ser­vice to you.

His Majesty The King graced the Clos­ing Cer­e­mony of the 7th Ses­sion of the Se­cond Par­lia­ment last Thurs­day

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