“Bhutan must move with the time to ensure that the nation not only overcomes all internal and external threats, but continues to prosper in an atmosphere of peace and stability.” These were the words of Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck on November 30, 2001, during the launching ceremony of the drafting of the Constitution.
Under the chairmanship of Lyonpo Sonam Tobgay, the chief justice, and the steady guidance and inspiration of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, the Constitution Drafting committee endeavored to engrave the sacred document. The constitution of more than 50 countries were referred to get the best ideas from a rich array of sources.
The first date of the constitution was submitted to the Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck on December 9, 2002. Ensuing this, His Majesty briefed the Lhengye Zhungtshog on March 21, 2005: “ The adoption of the constitution will provide the legal framework for a democratic, political system that is best suited for Bhutan and will establish a system of governance that will safeguard the security and sovereignty of the nation and ensure the well-being of the Bhutanese people for all times to come.”
On march 26, 2005, the Draft Constitution was released. Then, after incorporating the feedback of the public, the simplified draft was circulated on August 18, 2005. His Majesty took the Constitution to all the 20 Dzongkhags for public consultation to seek people’s views to refine the sacred document.
The Constitution is indeed a gift from the monarch to his people. It empowers the people with rights as well as duties, and enshrines articles that will ensure the sovereignty of the nation and unity, happiness and well-being of the people along with delivery of justice. The Constitution also ensures the preservation and promotion of spiritual and cultural heritage. Of all, the Bhutanese constitution offers a democratic form of government to the people.
The drafting of the Constitution is an exemplary stride toward democracy. In many countries the changes in the system of government were brought especially during the times of war and chaos, under political pressures and interests. Bhutanese are fortunate indeed that the change came at a period when the country enjoyed unparalleled peace and stability.
This article is the 7th article in this series of 9 articles titled “Paeans to the King”.
Reprinted from “Paeans to the King”, a free complimentary advertisement booklet with the 11th November 2007 issue of the Bhutan Times.