My fellow Bhutanese, it gives me great joy to speak to you on this auspicious occasion 104 years since Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck ascended the Throne, in 1907. Our nation has been blessed with the benevolent reigns of four monarchs since.
It is exactly five years since I became King. In these five years, we have made a successful transition to democracy. The elected government, bureaucracy and government agencies have implemented important development activities effectively and we have continued to achieve impressive socio-economic growth. Bhutan’s relations with other nations have grown more diverse and strong. I am extremely proud of these achievements and the people and I, are deeply grateful to the government, dratshang, civil service and private sector.
In October, I married Jetsun Pema. I am grateful for the warmth and affection with which, all our Bhutanese people came together to celebrate with me. I deeply appreciate the efforts and preparations made by the government, bureaucracy and volunteers; the prayers of the Zhung Dratshang and religious community; the good wishes and blessings of our senior citizens; the joy and happiness with which the youth embraced the occasion and the wholehearted love and support of the people of the 20 dzongkhags. The strength of your love and kindness towards me leaves me deeply humbled. As a young King, I have not yet been able to serve you as my father has done but my greatest desire is that I must repay your love, loyalty, support and trust. I pledge that it shall be my life-long endeavor to do so.
My dear citizens, while I am deeply satisfied with the progress of our nation, it is my duty as King to contemplate, every single day, on the challenges that lie ahead for our nation. My deepest concerns today are:
· Democracy – we have made a unique transition to democracy. What makes this transition even more extraordinary is the short span of time within which we have done so. Yet, the true test shall be whether we have the will and commitment to sustain a well functioning and strong vibrant democracy for all time to come. Further, we have a strong, committed parliament today, but my worry is, in the future, whether our best and brightest people will come forward in order to serve the nation through politics. After all, for democracy to succeed, we will always need strong and capable people in parliament.
· Education – the government over the decades has built schools in remote areas and trained teachers to man these schools. It has made immense efforts to build a strong education system. However, is the education our youth are receiving attuned to needs of the nation? And once educated, will our children find employment and realize their full potential?
· Corruption – will we allow it, as in so many developing countries, to spread throughout society and destroy everything? Or will we meet the challenge and overcome it no matter how difficult it might be? In fighting corruption, will we remember to also fight waste, unnecessary expenditure and complacency?
· Self-reliance – how do we achieve a measure of self-reliance that will make our growth sustainable? How do we overcome our great dependence on imports, for example?
These are my concerns. But our people must be reassured that it is not only I, as King, who seeks the solutions to these problems. We have the government led by the prime minister, the civil service and members of parliament and local government, who shall all work together to address these challenges.
I am confident because our people are unique. Our people are proud citizens who love our country and take it as our sacred duty to serve the nation. As Bhutanese we have so many qualities to be proud of. The manner, in which we all were united in celebration of my wedding, is a symbol of the fraternity and brotherhood among our people. It is an auspicious sign, that we will always come together, in good times and bad, in the interest of our nation. We will always, together as one, defend and protect our nation. If we are able to preserve this strength of unity and harmony, we shall overcome all challenges that may come our way.
Before I conclude, in the spirit of national days past, I will present awards to those who have served our nation and people well.
I end with a prayer for our nation. That the sun of peace and prosperity may always shine on Bhutan – a nation blessed by the teachings of Lord Buddha – a Shangrila blessed by the great Guru Rimpoche and founded by our revered and beloved parent Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal – a country born from the labour of Jigme Singye Wangchuck and the people of Bhutan.