Tuesday, November 15, 2005

On the Kingdom of Bhutan


The King of Bhutan inspects the royal guard. (image via AFP/Hellomagazine)

The 4th King of Bhutan, a curious chap to be sure, supplemented his traditional Mahayana Buddhist education with an imported English tutor to "open his eyes onto the world beyond Bhutan's borders." (The Corsair pours himself a glass of Castello Banfi Grappa) Since then, he has walked the razor's edge, honoring the traditions of his forefathers while, at the same time, fostering vast socio-economic development. The ultimate extention of those reforms is, of course, democratization.

However, for the commonwealth, who believe their king to be the realization of a three centuries-old religious prophesy, a sacred reincarnation destined to safeguard the nation and take care of his people, democratization is ... difficult. According to Hello!Magazine:

"The King of Bhutan has found himself facing a conundrum that most political leaders can only dream of. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who has spent that last 30 years working hard to bring peace and prosperity to his homeland, appears to have become a victim of his own popularity.

"As ruler of the tiny Asian country, the monarch has made it his life's work to modernise the territory while also maintaining its traditional customs and values. His desire to bring democracy to the Himalayan kingdom, by ceding power to a directly elected parliament, has been met with stiff opposition from his subjects, however. It would seem Bhutan's 750,000 citizens have no desire to start voting for politicians when their current ruler is already doing such a fine job."

Full story here.

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