Celebrating 21st Century Leadership

On June 19th, 2024, His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, affectionately known as King Jigme beyond Bhutan, received honorary doctorate degrees from seven distinguished Thai universities in various fields. This latest accolade is not His Majesty’s first, yet it has filled the Bhutanese people with immense pride and joy. The recognition is seen as a testament to the monumental endeavors His Majesty has undertaken since his enthronement. Moreover, citizens say that this honor acknowledges His Majesty’s role in setting exemplary standards for global leadership.

Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Lyonpo Lungten Dorji, said that this moment marks a significant milestone in Bhutan’s history and a time of great pride for all Bhutanese. He said it symbolizes the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between Thailand and Bhutan, reflecting the deep connections fostered through education and cultural exchanges between the two countries. The Speaker called on the Parliament to draw inspiration from His Majesty’s accomplishments, striving for unity and collaboration in their work for the betterment of the country.

Chairperson of the National Council (NC), Lyonpo Sangay Dorji said that what His Majesty was honored with is an example for the world about true leadership. “This is the biggest prize that the citizens of Bhutan have received for a long time,” he said. The Chairperson added that it is an indication of the trust His Majesty has garnered from the world through selfless service. “This has further enhanced Bhutan’s position and relevance in the world. His Majesty, who is our gem has made Bhutan’s future brighter,” he added.

Leader of the opposition party, Dasho Pema Chewang expressed that the honorary doctorates bestowed upon His Majesty the King are a testament to His Majesty’s growing recognition as the visionary leader that our time, the current world requires. “Each doctorate, spanning diverse fields, symbolizes His Majesty’s profound and multifaceted wisdom. During the pandemic, we witnessed His Majesty’s tireless efforts. Even now, His Majesty continues to traverse the globe, working selflessly for the welfare of his people. This recognition should fill all Bhutanese with pride and inspire us to support His Majesty in every possible way,” he said.

Dorji Phuntsho, chief executive officer (CEO) said the honors bestowed upon His Majesty by Thailand’s premier universities represent a historic moment and a source of immense pride for all Bhutanese. “His Majesty has displayed exceptional leadership, distinguishing himself as one of the foremost visionary leaders on a global stage. For us, His Majesty is pioneering a new paradigm of leadership vital for 21st Century and also redefining the essential criteria for leadership 4.0 —a standard of leadership that is notably missing globally,” he said. The CEO added that as a tribute, “it is our foremost duty to work hard and uphold His Majesty’s vision and noble aspirations.”

According to Tandin Wangchuk, an entrepreneur, the award goes beyond Bhutan – Thailand ties, and is a global recognition of how His Majesty has raised the bar of leadership. “It is about trust in His Majesty’s vision, the way His Majesty functions and how His Majesty has answered global issues, while focusing on Bhutan. In other words, the awards are acknowledgment of how leaders should lead and it is very significant for a small country like Bhutan.”

Meanwhile, delegations from the universities had travelled to Bhutan to present the honorary degrees. His Majesty thanked the Universities for their meaningful gesture of recognition, and the people and Kingdom of Thailand for their genuine friendship and goodwill for Bhutan.

The Universities share a close connection with Bhutan, and have educated many Bhutanese students. The honorary degrees presented to His Majesty further strengthen the ties of close cooperation between the education sectors of the two countries.

Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University presented His Majesty The King the Honorary Doctorate Degree in Buddhism, while Chiang Mai University presented the Honorary Degree of Science in Agriculture.

Chiang Mai Rajabhat University presented His Majesty an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree in Science for Sustainable Local Development; Khon Kaen University the Honorary Doctorate Degree of Science in Agricultural Extension; Mae Fah Luang University the Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Social Sciences; Maejo University Honorary Doctorate Degree of Organic Agriculture Management and Thammasat University Honorary Degree in the field of Creative Development.

By Ugyen Tenzin, Thimphu