Monday, 22 December 2008

Bhutan : Six honoured for service to nation

20 December, 2008 - “As King it is my duty to recognise people, who have served their fellow countrymen and nation in an exceptional way. It does not matter who you are, whether you are from rural or urban Bhutan or from the private sector or government. In the end all that matters is your love and service for our people and country. It is my hope that, henceforth, every one of you will strive to merit these awards.”

For six Bhutanese citizens, December 17, 2008 turned out to be an unforgettable day. In a surprise announcement, during the royal National Day address, His Majesty the King awarded the Druk Wangyal medal to the prime minister, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley, and the chief justice, Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye.

“Jigmi Thinley and Sonam Tobgye, throughout their careers, have been motivated by service to the nation, regardless of what responsibilities they held,” His Majesty said. “They have excelled in carrying out their duties in each position and their devotion to the country is exemplary. Even today, under a new democratic system, they continue to serve the nation in important positions, that they have earned through their own merit.”

Lyonchhoen Jigmi Thinley said that he was greatly honoured and humbled. “If I have pleased His Majesty and the government, it is because of the opportunities I’ve been bestowed by them,” he said. “I accept this not only as His Majesty’s recognition of my services but also collectively on behalf of my colleagues, the new government. I recognise this honour as His Majesty’s expectations, the kind of service that he expects from every government employee. Therefore, I think it’s also with expectations of similar service hereafter.”

Chief Justice Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye said that it was a legitimate aspiration for every person to work for recognition but the Druk Wangyal “elated, inspired, and humbled” him. “It is my lifetime achievement that His Majesty most graciously recognised and my family will always cherish this honour,” he said. “I had many doubts and difficulties and His Majesty through this medal redeemed my doubts and encouraged me to do more. It is my belief that the royal government of Bhutan is not deaf and blind, particularly His Majesty will always see through his compassionate eyes the services rendered by every person in the country, regardless of his or her status, background or place.”

His Majesty awarded four Druk Thuksey medals.

Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, Chief Election Commissioner, received the Druk Thuksey for his “personal integrity and hard work and for the combined effort of the officials of the Election Commission of Bhutan, various government agencies, local government and the armed forces in preparing for and conducting successful general elections at the start of democracy.”

Neten Zangmo, Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission was granted the Druk Thuksey for “carrying out her duties as head of the Anti-Corruption Commission without fear or favour.” His Majesty said that, at this phase in the growth of democracy, the ACC must work to prevent the spread of one of the biggest threats to Bhutan’s success. His Majesty pledged his own wholehearted support to the ACC. Neten Zangmo will receive the Red Scarf from His Majesty.

Dasho Pema Wangchuk, International Boundaries Secretary, was awarded the Druk Thuksey for his “long, consistent and fruitful service during the reign of two kings with sincerity, dedication and humility.”

Dasho Pema Wangchen, Secretary to the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, received the Druk Thuksey for his “commitment and dedication with which he had served a special King as he led the nation over 34 years.”

Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said the medal reaffirmed that the election commission had lived up to the expectations of the Fourth King in conducting the elections successfully. “We are honored by the faith and trust of His Majesty the fifth King on the officials to conduct the future elections more professionally.”

“I consider myself very lucky because my humble contributions to the nation were appreciated on such a great day, when we were celebrating 100 years of monarchy and people were rejoicing the coronation of the Fifth King,” he said. “It was an appreciation for past effort but, with this medal, there’s a challenge ahead of me and my colleagues to fulfill the expectations of His Majesty for future elections.”

Dasho Pema Wangchuk, who received the Red Scarf from the third Druk Gyalpo, said that, when His Majesty commended his consistent service, it was the biggest compliment for him. “I nearly cried.”

“The medal means a lot to me,” he said, “because it’s a reward for my 36 years of service with the royal government, that is, 10 years with the late Majesty, 34 years with the fourth Druk Gyalpo, and now two years with the fifth Druk Gyalpo. “I always gave my best, serving with a clear conscience, as the King is always for the people.”

Dasho Pema Wangchen, the secretary of fourth Druk Gyalpo, joined the royal service in 1970. “The honour bestowed upon me by the Druk Gyalpo on the Centenary National Day was totally unexpected and took me by surprise,” he said. “I was deeply overwhelmed when my name was announced and I was commanded by His Majesty the King to come to the podium to receive the medal in front of the nation. I consider myself very fortunate for the privilege I have had to serve such a great King.”

For Neten Zangmo, it was a “very, very, big, big, big, big surprise!”. “It symbolised the beginning of the end of corruption,” she told Kuensel. “This is a very strong message that His Majesty is sending to every Bhutanese, to every corner of this country - that corruption has to be fought resolutely and that corruption cannot be tolerated.”

“The medal is a great motivation and inspiration for ACC and myself. We’ll continue to work harder … As far as we are concerned, we’ll fight corruption no matter whoever is in it.” Referring to the retroactive law used against various ACC cases, she said: “Why is that an issue when big people are involved and not when small people are involved?”

Her message to politicians and bureaucrats: “Stop talking and start practising. Even when a new government has come up, it’s business as usual and things aren’t changing at all, as they should. The culture of indifference persists.”

His Majesty said that, while awards went to individuals, it did not mean that the rest had not served their country. He said that, in fact, the people of Bhutan were united in their love of country and such awards were meant precisely to preserve this unique strength of Bhutan.


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