A time for every purpose
29 March, 2008 – The international media viewed Bhutan’s first general election with some understanding and some confusion. That is why the international community is trying to comprehend how a “royalist” party defeated a party led by “relatives of the royal family”. And such misconceptions came even after the entire concept of a Bhutanese democracy was initiated by His Majesty the fourth King and the commitment that His Majesty the reigning King has expressed for a vibrant democracy.
But that is the way of the world. It is more important that we ourselves analyse and understand the trends of the election and draw our lessons from them for the future. When we look back at last week’s election, most of us seem to agree that we were taken aback by the unpredictability of the Bhutanese electorate. We also agree widely on the disadvantages of a weak opposition. As we continue our analysis of the results, we will hopefully use this experience to refine the electoral system and our own roles in the new system.
We need to keep learning from our experiences, particularly our mistakes. We have the time and opportunity to do that today, with objectivity and reason. If we have doubts, we have the authorities in place to investigate them.
Meanwhile, we welcome the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s first reaction not to celebrate. Given the enormity of the challenge before us, we are not ready to party. It is also a signal that the new government-elect will not shed the values that have been the strength of Bhutanese society.
For example, in 2003, His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo ensured Bhutan’s long-term security by flushing out groups of armed militants who were illegally camped on Bhutanese soil. It was one of the most heroic acts today’s generation of Bhutanese had witnessed. Yet the resounding command was, no victory celebrations. The people just offered their prayers.
Then, even as we anticipate the Coronation of His Majesty the King, the royal advice we have received is that the Coronation is not going to be an ostentatious carnival. It will be a sacred event for the Bhutanese people.
What we learn from all this is that Bhutanese society is not a loud firecracker society. Yes, it is important that we enjoy our festivals. Yes, we must have our fun. But we must know when it is time to be serious.
Our dignity is not in what we do but what we understand