Friday, 9 May 2008

The first session of parliament begins

May 9: His Majesty the King graced the first session of parliament under democratic constitutional monarchy yesterday.

In age old tradition His Majesty was received and escorted in a chibdrel ceremony to the parliament where the members of the political parties offered Kusung Thukten Mendrel, followed by the Zhugdrel Phuensum Tshogpai ceremony.

During these auspicious ceremonies, the Draft Constitution of Bhutan was submitted to His Majesty by the Chairman of the Drafting committee, Chief Justice Lyonpo Sonam Tobgay and distributed to the members.

The parliament’s viewer galleries were filled as former ministers, civil servants, diplomats, expatriates, businessmen and people, young and old came to witness an historic moment in Bhutan’s evolution.

His Majesty the King reminded the people of the 100 years of hard work, sacrifice and commitment of our forefathers under successive kings. And, of the 34 years of selfless service and visionary leadership of the fourth Druk Gyalpo, that had led to this moment when Bhutan enters world history for our unique transition to democracy and our development philosophy of GNH.

His Majesty dedicated this first session of parliament and the democratic endeavours ahead to our kings, our forefathers and the fourth Druk Gyalpo. His Majesty said that the parliament must now pledge to the people of the 20 dzongkhags and the fourth king that we will build a strong democracy and nation.

His Majesty told the parliament that on this historic day, the powers that have been submitted to the first king of Bhutan by the people were - having been exercised by four successive Kings in the interest of strengthening the unique nation that exist today – now being granted back to the people by Their Majesties, Father and Son.

At such a momentous time, His Majesty said he wished to share with the members of parliament his hopes for the future of Bhutan. His Majesty said “It is 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 that above all, we will work to nurture a future generation who are brighter, better skilled, and more capable than us.”

In order to realize this prayer, His Majesty said the first step is to build a strong democracy. In doing so, politicians must be mindful of the experiences of nations where democracy had failed and hardship, disunity, internal strife and violence have plagued their people. Such developments must never be allowed into Bhutan.

His Majesty said “In Bhutan, democracy is another important step towards strengthening our country. It continues the work of nation building started by our forefathers and our kings.” His Majesty said that this unique nation, this ‘Norbu’ of the world was now being placed in the hands of the members of the first parliament of Bhutan, the ministers and democratic Bhutan’s first Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley.

His Majesty said that they must now bear the duty of building a strong democracy by setting up the right examples, laying a good foundation and promoting the best practices of democracy. “We, the people and king, on our part 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. However if you should falter in your service to the nation, then the duty to counsel you also rests with the people and the king.”

His Majesty expressed his confidence that the new democratic system, the qualifications and experience of the new parliament, their hard work and loyalty to Tsa Wa Sum would bring progress and growth to Bhutan. His Majesty prayed for the everlasting peace prosperity and happiness of the people of Bhutan.

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