Ruling a nation with love – Lessons by the Kings of Bhutan


Photo taken by Yee JJ at Paro Tsechu festival

Fifth King visiting the Paro Tsechu festival on 17 March 2011 and greeting his people - by YJJ

After a recent visit to Bhutan , I am totally impressed by their kings. They serve as good examples to all monarchs and political leaders on how to rule with love for their country.

The former and fourth king of Bhutan , H.M. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck felt monarchy is not the best form of government because a king is chosen by birth and not by merit. Despite being well loved by his people, he crafted into the Constitution to allow the parliament to remove a monarch by a vote of no confidence to protect his people from having to serve under a bad king. He established the process for a democratically elected government and handed powers to the parliament. He established that no king shall not serve beyond age 65 to prevent a bad king from serving too long. He promoted the concept of Gross National Happiness as the basis for Bhutan ‘s socioeconomic development, which is about collective happiness rather than individual.

 In 2008, at age 56, he abdicated in favour of his son, H.M. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The fifth King is now popularly called by his people as the People’s King for his active involvement in promoting education and welfare for the people. He travels frequently to the countryside for long periods, sometimes by foot and living amongst his people to understand their needs. When Bhutan was hit by a massive earthquake in 2009, the King went quickly to the affected sites supervising rescue and rebuilding works.

Today, we have sad cases of rulers in Libya , Bahrain and elsewhere desparately protecting their rule by using violence against their own people. We have rulers who go through great efforts to create systems to attempt to entrench their dynasty in perpetuity. We have leaders who believe they must use authority to bully people into submission. If we have more leaders like the kings of Bhutan , we will have more peace in the world. The Bhutan kings should be the winners for the Nobel Peace Prize as an example of how to rule with peace and love.

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