Address: Today, we come together as a nation to celebrate a special day of national pride and jubilation– 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 unite to express our boundless gratitude to His Majesty.
By the paramount benediction of the Triple Gem; the providence 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 who achieved unimaginable success during His reign.
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 country today have access to basic amenities and infrastructure, and are able to live in contentment.
When His Majesty became King, there was little more than 700 kilometres of road network. The total budget for the third five-year Plan was around Nu 300 million, as compared with the total budget outlay for the current 11th Plan, which is Nu 213 billion, in addition to which, we will spend Nu 200 billion for hydropower development.
In 1972, we barely generated one megawatt of electricity. There were a total of four 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 was 46 years. It has increased to about 69 years today. Our foreign reserve was only USD 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 and dispute. His Majesty began His reign during such a time, and steered our country to an age of peace and prosperity.
His Majesty prioritized above all else, the profound task of Nation-Building, and ensuring the survival of our country.
Towards this objective, His Majesty safeguarded peace and harmony, and thus reinforced the sovereignty and security of our country.
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, His Majesty engineered a system free of corruption, mismanagement and disharmony, and bridged the divide between the have and have-nots.
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 teachings of Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to flourish.
His Majesty established firm foundations and institutions for democracy, good governance, and rule of law, to ensure the continuity and security of not one generation in one lifetime, but for all the future citizens of Bhutan.
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 and believed in equality. But His Majesty recognized the value of meritocracy, leadership, and talent in taking our nation forward. Bhutan is like a small animal in a large forest, placed between the most populous and powerful countries of the world, which will need skills for survival.
I have had the opportunity to observe closely, His Majesty’s tireless service 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 concerns. His Majesty often asked after the health of the people that He met, and personally sent medication and advice if they were unwell.
Once, upon visiting Trongsa dzong as it was being renovated, His Majesty saw that concrete was 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, 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.
Similarly, upon noticing garbage, His Majesty would express apprehensions that along with development and modernization, cleanliness may fall by the wayside.
Often, looking at the increasing number of vehicles in the Royal Convoy, His Majesty would express concerns that national expenditure would be incurred. His Majesty’s concerns arose from a deep sense of value for national wealth, having seen at a 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 the wealth we have today.
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 infuriated His Majesty.
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 work of two lifetimes.
We are forever indebted to 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.
We also thank Their Majesties the Queens of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, for their tremendous love, support and devotion to His Majesty.
The government officials, civil servants, and armed force and personnel serving His Majesty are to be thanked for their steadfast fealty and dedication.
Our gratitude is also due to the people of Bhutan, who reposed their confidence to 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 had already accomplished prodigious feats. Where ordinary people crave wealth and power, His Majesty, in an act of superlative altruism that unprecedented in the history of the world, abdicated the throne, crowned a new King, introduced democracy and handed over the responsibility of governance to His people.
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.
We are gathered here to offer our gratitude, tribute and respects to His Majesty. There can be no greater tribute, expression of gratitude and respect, than the 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.