King of Bhutan's National Day address
20 December 2004 - Today, as we celebrate the auspicious occasion of our National Day, there is good reason for all of us to be grateful and happy that we no longer face the serious threat to the security of our country from the presence of the militants over the last many years.
As our people are aware, the national Constitution Committee started the important task of drafting the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan from 2001. I am happy to announce that we have now completed the Draft Constitution and it has been presented to the Lhengye Zhungtshog.
In drafting the Constitution, the greatest importance was attached to safeguarding and strengthening the sovereignty and security of our nation and promoting the interest and well being of the Bhutanese people. The highest importance was also attached to the establishment of parliamentary democracy and a system of government that will provide good governance and fulfill the aspirations of our people.
The Draft Constitution will be distributed to all the twenty Dzongkhags next year so that our people can study it and be fully aware of its contents. Following this, I will be personally visiting every Dzongkhag to meet with our people and hold discussions and consultations on all issues regarding the Constitution. Only after completing the consultations with our people in all the Dzongkhags will the adoption of the Constitution take place.
It has now been two and a half years since we started the 9th Five Year Plan. As you are all aware, under the policy of greater decentralization and empowerment of the people, the Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu and the Geog Yargye Tshogchung have been given full administrative, policy making and financial powers in their respective Dzongkhags. Therefore, the success of development programmes will now be determined by the decisions taken by the people and the quality of their participation in implementing them.
I have every confidence that our people will shoulder their responsibility well and that the administrative, policy making and financial powers given to them by the government will be utilized properly to ensure the progress and development of the Dzongkhags, especially in the rural sector.
This year, we have over 155,000 students studying in our schools and educational institutions. One of the greatest concerns for the government today is in providing gainful employment to our youth. At a time when our country is developing very rapidly and our people are becoming more prosperous every year, if Bhutanese citizens are to benefit from the progress taking place and find good jobs, we will have to give priority to the establishment of industries for which the government must strengthen and develop the private sector.
It is necessary for the government and the private sector in Bhutan to work together hand in hand and provide employment to our people. It is an important responsibility of the Royal Government to ensure that a time does not come when Bhutanese people cannot find employment in their own country. Such a situation must never be allowed to arise.
Two of the most important factors for ensuring the development of our rural sector is the establishment of roads and the availability of power in our villages. In this regard, the Kurichhu Hydroelectric Project has greatly benefited the rural people and business community in the six Dzongkhags of eastern Bhutan as well as in Zhemgang and Sarpang.
Now that the presence of the militants has been removed from Nganglam, the government will reactivate the establishment of the Dungsam Cement Project which will provide jobs for our people and business opportunities for the private sector. Furthermore, the Tala Hydroelectric Project is expected to be completed by the year 2006. The sale of electricity from this project will go a long way towards enabling us to achieve our national goal of economic self-reliance. In the world today, it is an important measure of a nationís status as a sovereign, independent country to remove the need for aid assistance and achieve economic self-reliance. Therefore, we must all make every effort to fulfill this important national objective.
In December last year, with every effort made to find a peaceful solution to the problem of the three militant organizations who had established camps on our soil having failed to yield any results, we were left with no other choice but to use the security forces of Bhutan, as a last resort, to remove their presence from our country. The successful removal of this serious security threat has greatly strengthened the well being and sovereignty of our country. As citizens of a small landlocked country with a population of just over 500,000, it is vital for the Bhutanese people to be fully conscious of how important it is for them to be always ready to shoulder the sacred responsibility of safeguarding the security and sovereignty of our nation.
When our country was going through a very critical and difficult period, the armed forces served the Tsa-Wa-Sum with dedication and commitment, placing the country above their lives in defending the security of the Palden Drukpa. In recognition of their loyal and outstanding service to the nation, we will be awarding medals to the officers and men of the Royal Bhutan Army, the Royal Body Guards, the Royal Bhutan Police and the Militia Volunteers on this auspicious occasion of our National Day.
Last year, when we were facing a conflict situation and our country was going through a difficult period in its history, His Holiness the Je Khenpo and the Zhung Dratshang, the Dratshangs and Gomdeys of the 20 Dzongkhags, the Shedras and Drubdras, civil servants, the business community and our people, all united together and came forward with one mind to support our security forces and to perform the sacred Kurims to ensure the success of the military operations and the well being of the country, for which I would like to express deep gratitude and appreciation.
On the auspicious occasion of our National Day, I would like to wish Tashi Delek to all our people in the 20 Dzongkhags.