This year, 2008, we shall see the Olympic Games take place in Beijing, China. Across the border, a small nation named Bhutan will witness the official coronation of their fifth king, 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk.
I wrote about Jigme Khesar, then the crown prince, when he visited Thailand in 2006.
His first duties as King, started two years ago, is to lead the democratization of Bhutan, a nation of about 700,000, built on Mahayana Buddhist ideologies.
2007 estimated Bhutan’s total GDP at $4.39 billion. Jigme calls their vision “Gross National Happiness” as priority.
Read Jigme Khesar’s speech at the National Day celebration in December 2007 here.
How perfectly idealistic, to the point of being endearing, wasn’t he? Now read this article published in the Herald Tribune.
I bet all previous Jigme had their shortcomings. But most Bhutanese have been comfortable and satisfied with the monarch’s reign since the coronation of Gongsar Ugen Wangchuck 100 years ago.
While democracy may lead to a stronger economy, it will eventually promote strife and dissension. The above report stated Bhutan’s plan to capitalize on water sources from the Himalayas.
Social change is inevitable in any society. I feel excited and at the same time, feel sad for Bhutan. But the Oxford University graduate with a MPhil in Politics, Jigme Khesar, should know better.
God bless Bhutan.