Increasing accountability and reducing corruption through stronger enforcement of laws and regulations remains a serious concern as His Majesty the King addressed the nation at the 114th National Day celebrations on 17 December from TrashichhoDzong, Thimphu.
To realize the national objectives, His Majesty the King commanded to be honest and truthful in holding underperforming officials and bureaucrats accountable and uncover corrupt public servants and embarrass them into not repeating the same offense by others.
Despite several efforts made in the past to reform and improve our governance, His Majesty said, Bhutan is yet to see tangible, meaningful improvements. “Foreign experts and professionals have commented that our rules, regulations, laws and institutional procedures are among the best in the world. Yet we are not able to reap the benefits.”
His Majesty continued, “Where have we gone wrong? Could it be due to our misplaced compassion by not holding people accountable, not removing incompetent people but instead tolerating and even rewarding underperformers?
“We know our country best. We are a compassionate and close-knit society. We hesitate from giving our honest views or taking bold actions, which might risk offending or displeasing others,” warned His Majesty.
“As a result, the strength of our national character, exemplified by courage and determination of our forefathers, has weakened; complacency has set in, discipline has waned, and corruption is on the rise,” His Majesty said. “This has unfortunately given rise to a popular perception that two laws coexist in the same country. If we allow such practices to proliferate, we will become more vulnerable to even greater risks and dangers.”
With the world changing quicker than ever before, His Majesty said, “All of us are aware that we are a tiny, land-locked and developing country with a small population and limited resources. As the world around us changes rapidly and the future becomes more uncertain, we are becoming more vulnerable.”
His Majesty added, “What we need now, more than ever, is a corresponding degree of resolve and determination for our national interest. The strength of our national character, courage, grit, and fortitude must define every aspect of our national endeavour.”
“I have witnessed the boldness, rigour, resolve and sternness that had defined the reign of His Majesty the Fourth King. Unfortunately, these qualities have deteriorated over the last fifteen years of my reign,” said His Majesty.
His Majesty said, “From now on, all of us must boldly embrace accountability as a measure of our service, should we falter, deviate, and err in the service of our country.”
His Majesty continued, “As King, I must first and foremost exemplify the ideal of accountability. I do not say these to trigger any alarm or anxiety. We are not too late in getting our priorities right, re-focusing our national goals, and re-aligning our national priorities and strategies.”
“If the King, government and the people continue to work hand-in-hand with dedication, perseverance and fortitude, we still have every opportunity to further strengthen our country and achieve greater prosperity for our people.”
Laying a clear path on the future, His Majesty said, as underpinned in our age-old saying, “the golden yoke of secular laws,” accountability must henceforth become the cornerstone of governance.
His Majesty said, “We must correct those who deviate, be firm with those who do not deliver, replace those who are incompetent, and terminate those who underperform and have therefore become a liability to our system and nation.”
“We must not hesitate to expose those who engage in corrupt practices, so that we send a strong signal to deter others from doing so,” His Majesty said.
His Majesty said these are part of a daily conversation among our people while expressing their concerns, hopes and aspirations. “Rather than leave these concerns and sentiments within the confines of their homes, I re-articulate them today as the King’s Command on this National Day.”
His Majesty commended the qualifications, competence, and commitment of the civil servants to serve our people. “As we work with the best of our civil servants and with foreign experts and professionals, we are learning new ideas every day and formulating fresh, clear, and bold strategies for our future.”