“Let us all, in doing our duties, keep the interest of our people and our future generations above all else” these were the closing remarks of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo during the opening ceremony of the sixth session of parliament. These were the instructions, not merely the words, of a king that holds everything that he has ever said, promised and taken to task upon his coronation in 2006 and long before that.
Today, His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo is 30 years old, yet what he said to the people of Bhutan in December of 2006 stills rings as fresh as yesterday.
This is in no small measure to His Majesty’s unwavering commitment to and faith in the Bhutanese people. Even as His Majesty addressed the parliament, in what has been a month of tragedy and reckoning, his address was crystal clear. That the country has a steadfast friend and neighbor in India which must be further nurtured; that the innate nature of the Bhutanese people is to help each other in times of need, that tragedies such as the fire ravaged night in Bumthang cannot be excused away but boldly accepted, finding the strength to move on, as they did, with the help of fellow Bhutanese. “As King, this gives me even greater optimism and confidence about the future of our nation.” His Majesty said.
That looking forward and surging ahead with the strength and wisdom gained from such experiences is the ideal way. And the fact that this is what should fundamentally constitute wisdom in action, no matter how painful the realities, with expectations and appreciation in order for the way the top echelons of government came to the rescue. Thanks were also in order for the parliamentarians for having conducted themselves with commitment and fervor. “We should be concerned if instead of good deeds, the examples leaders set are of corruption and abuse of power – if our nation is without values and ethics,” His Majesty addressed. A very poignant note indeed, bearing in mind the fact that it came so close on the heels of the case of the Opposition versus the Government regarding the tax revision and the unconstitutional reform.
While the overwhelming message and display of His Majesty’s immense concern and commitment to the Bhutanese has always been one of selflessness, as reflected in his address and particularly, to the Kidu, which His Majesty also addressed: “I do not understand how people could be spoiled while seeking refuge in Kidu during times of immense suffering.
To make people happy, to help them during times of distress, and to ensure that they do not suffer greatly – these are qualities of a country where there is genuine concern for the people on the part of the King and government; and where people share everything, happiness and sorrow.” His Majesty, in his address, rather stated that there should be cause for concern “if there are people being bullied, mistreated and made victims of injustice. We should be concerned if instead of good deeds, the examples leaders set are of corruption and abuse of power – if our nation is without values and ethics.”
For a country and a populace that takes immense pride in being Buddhist, in having the utmost regard for the sanctity of life and the freedom and the right to live pursuing the goal of equality and justice in all their manifestations, then there was indeed a lot of reflecting to do; both on the part of the leaders and those at the grassroots level, beginning from the so called educated class, if there is any genuine aspiration for us to indeed, heed the call of our king - in words and in action. “During this session you will be deliberating many important bills and acts. In doing so, I must remind you that in focusing on the words and details of the laws and the needs of the present, do not be blinded to the future of our country and people – and the long-term objectives and priorities of our nation. Let us all, in doing our duties, keep the interest of our people and our future generations above all else.” There is no doubting that the message was one of simple clarity: put your country above yourself. Let us hope the winter chill welcomes in an early spring thaw.