On the occasion of the 105th National Day, it gives me much happiness to address our People of the 20 dzongkhags.
This National Day is of special significance. The powers offered by our People to the King in 1907, after hundred years of nation building, were returned in 2008 to our People by the Druk Gyalpo. It was in that year that we held the first elections under democracy and adopted the Constitution. Today, we are nearing the end of the term of the first Parliament we elected in 2008, and the culmination of the tenth and largest 5-year plan. So much work lies ahead and such immense responsibilities rest on our shoulders as we approach 2013.
Yet, with capable and dedicated citizens, who have great love for our country, with the guidance of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and with the ever-stronger bonds between People and King, I have great confidence that we shall achieve our goals.
Our People of Bhutan are unique. We have a sense of family, community and brotherhood that inspires us to come together in times of need. I have seen this following natural disasters and, most recently, in the way in which all Bhutanese came forward to offer whatever little we could afford to rebuild the historic treasure, Wangduephodrang Dzong.
In other nations, difficult moments in their history are met with strife, violence and conflict, as people sacrifice national interest in order to achieve individual ambitions. In Bhutan, such acts and events have never occurred. Our way of life, our heritage, loyalty and values remain strong in the hearts of our People and our People stand ready, even in times of great personal hardship, to place Nation above Self. I am so proud of our People and offer my deep gratitude for the love you have shown for your nation.
It is during times of prosperity and success that we must remind ourselves of the work that lies ahead. We have made a good start in our transition to democracy, but much remains to be done. Our nation has seen great socio-economic growth, but it is more important that we have growth with equity. We must raise, with all our effort, the less fortunate so that they may, at the earliest, begin to partake in the opportunities brought by modernisation and progress. The government has provided education to our youth. But for the nation to prosper for all time, a sound education must be succeeded by access to the right jobs and responsibilities, so that our youth may bloom as individuals and, at the same time, serve their nation well. The recent Rupee shortage is a serious problem. I feel it is a reminder that, as a nation, we must exercise our traditional sense of caution, and work even harder, as we address the challenges of the time. For, no matter what challenges lie ahead, it is only the Bhutanese citizen, who can protect and safeguard Bhutan.
Today, the most important duty for us is the 2013 elections to Parliament. I would like to say that we – all of us – are new to this democratic transition. We have all equally acquired four and a half years of experience in democracy. Experience comes with participation, so I urge you all to come forward as candidates, members of parties and voters for 2013.
Remember, achieving democracy is not the goal. The real fruits of our efforts should be that democracy brings greater unity, harmony and prosperity to our nation. Democracy must be able to fulfill the aspirations of our People.
Many hundreds of years ago, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal unified the nation, established the dual system and laid the foundations on which a unique Bhutan was born. This new nation was then further strengthened over the course of history by fifty-four Desis and generations of Bhutanese. The last hundred years, the Wangchuck dynasty further strengthened the foundations laid by the Zhabdrung, and handed over a special nation to our People in 2008. All of this was possible because our People have lived as one small family, true to the ideals of the Zhabdrung and the foundations of a unique and special Bhutanese identity.
As we approach the elections of 2013, we must therefore keep in mind these foundations of our nation and prevent all ethnic, religious or political divisions in our small nation. We must participate in democracy with the spirit of harmony and fraternity. In 2008, our democratic transition and the wholehearted participation by the people, including the 80% voter turnout, were lauded by the world. I urge you all to exercise your right to vote – it comes but once in 5 years – for it is an act of great benefit to the nation.
With the Blessings of the Triple Gem and our Guardian Deities and the good fortune of our People, I am confident we will conduct the second elections under democracy successfully in 2013.
For me, I hold sacred the endeavours begun by my father, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. I have committed myself to bringing to fruition all the noble endeavours begun in his 34 years of service and sacrifice. I also hold sacred my duty to ensure the success of democracy, and I shall work to lay the strongest foundations for a vibrant democracy within my reign.
Above all, I believe that the Golden Throne is not a Throne of wealth, power and prestige. The Golden Throne of Bhutan is a unique Throne of Destiny to serve our People and Nation.
As King since 2006 I have always served with complete dedication and integrity. Sometimes I may have erred. Yet, you, my people, have given me even more love and support and placed your complete faith and trust in me. To our People of the 20 dzongkhags, I offer my heartfelt gratitude, and I pledge that I shall give everything to be of service to you and Bhutan.
In this land, blessed by Guru Padmasambhava, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and our Fourth Druk Gyalpo, I pray that there shall be everlasting peace, prosperity and happiness.
Editor’s note: The King delivered this speech to the nation on the occasion of the 105th National Day on December 17