It is with deep personal satisfaction and happiness that I address this inaugural session of Parliament. After all, it is in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity that we are gathered today to celebrate our nation’s historic achievement of a unique democratic transition.
Therefore, I commend the sense of duty and service that motivated the members of our first Parliament under Democratic Constitutional Monarchy. You have been a part of a transition that shall enter the history of our nation as one of our greatest endeavors.
Our nation has always provided security, tranquility and happiness for our people irrespective of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the world and the region around us. The primary reason for our achievements has been the hard work and sacrifices of our forefathers and the selfless leadership of successive kings since Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, the first king of Bhutan. Shining even amidst our proud history of service, loyalty and affection for our nation, is the legacy of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth Druk Gyalpo. In the 34 years of his reign, we have grown far beyond our own expectations and today created history as a nation that has not only given birth to the unique philosophy of Gross National Happiness, but also achieved an unprecedented transition to democracy. His Majesty has shown that there is no other duty for a king than to serve the people.
Therefore, I take this opportunity to offer on behalf of all Bhutanese, our gratitude to our forefathers, our kings and to the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. Let us abide by their great example and pledge our unwavering loyalty and service to the Tsawasum.
The highest achievement of one hundred years of Monarchy has been the constant nurturing of Democracy. This has culminated today with the first sitting of Parliament and the start of democracy, whereby my father the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and I, hereby return to our People the powers that had been vested in our kings by our forefathers one hundred years ago. We do so with absolute faith and confidence, offer our complete support and our prayers for the success of democracy.
As King, henceforth, it is my sacred duty to ensure the success of our new democracy so that it will serve to fulfill the aspirations of our people always.
As you, the members of Parliament, begin to shoulder the immense powers and responsibilities as representatives of the people, I wish to share my own hopes for Bhutan. It has always been my prayer that we will all be united in our efforts to build a stronger nation, so that at the end of our lives, when we hand over our country, our children will inherit a stronger nation where all obstacles to their happiness and prosperity will have been overcome and where we have created the conditions for the fulfillment of their aspirations. And above all, that they will be better than us, more qualified and capable. We should not have insecurities in this regard. If Bhutan is to excel, our future generations must always be better than those before them.
To realize this prayer we must first build a strong democracy. In doing so, our new politicians must be mindful of the experiences of nations where democracy failed and hardship, disunity, internal strife and violence have plagued their people. We must never allow, at any time, the conditions to develop for such occurrences in Bhutan. Our effort to build a democracy is another important step towards strengthening our country. It continues the work of nation building started by our forefathers and our kings. We must remember that our greatest strength throughout history has always been the unity of spirit and purpose of our people. One nation, one vision.
Members of the first Parliament of Bhutan; Speaker; Chairperson of the National Council; Leader of the Opposition; ministers of the Lhengye Zhungtshog, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu, Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering, Lyonpo Zangley Drukpa, Lyonpo Minjur Dorji, Lyonpo Pem Gyamtsho, Lyonpo Nandalal Rai, Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel, Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi; and the first Prime Minister under democracy Lyonchhen Jigmi Yoezer Thinley – from this day forth, we place in your hands our unique nation, our greatest treasure in this world.
As democracy’s first government, you have the responsibility of setting the right examples, laying strong foundations and promoting the best practices of democracy. We, the people and King, have complete confidence and faith in the new government. As long as you work to serve the country and people, you will have our full support. If you should falter in your service to the nation, then the duty to counsel you also rests with the people and King.
However, with your experience and qualifications, and your loyalty and commitment to the Tsawasum, I am confident that you will work hard to bring greater progress and growth for our people.
May the unity of our people and the fruits of democracy ensure that the sun of peace and prosperity continues to shine on our Nation, the Land of Buddha’s Teachings; blessed by the Guru Padmasambhava and our Guardian Deities; and founded on the Vision and Legacy of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
On the 8th of May, 2008, His Majesty addressed the first inaugural joint sitting of the parliament of democratic Bhutan.