It was five years of cooperation and collaboration amongst the parliament of Bhutan, under the stewardship of His Majesty the King, the National Council (NC), and the National Assembly (NA), the three arms of the Parliament, strengthening democracy. Prime Minister (PM) Dr Dasho Lotay Tshering conveyed this to the Bhutanese media during the last Meet the Press of the current government on 27th October 2023.
While underlining that the Opposition party was supportive, the PM especially spoke about former Opposition Leader (OL), Dr. Ph.D. Pema Gyamtsho for his wisdom and foresight. He expressed gratitude for the OL’s cooperation in various matters and emphasized that the Opposition played a crucial role in maintaining check and balance within the democracy.
“On this very ground, we used to meet the OL during breaks and discuss issues and the way forward. As he is a seasoned parliamentarian, I also told my members to carefully listen to what the OL had to say before opposing for the sake of opposing,” the PM said.
The PM also spoke about motions from the Opposition and private member bills that the government supported.
Similarly, the PM mentioned that the NC, known as the House of Review, also stood by the government. While there were occasional disagreements on specific issues, the National Assembly received consistent support from the NC. “We supported the Cabinet Act which rose from the NC,” the PM said.
Relating to cooperation, the PM spoke about several important bills that were discussed and which finally translated into Acts. A significant one that was mentioned was the Gyalsung Act. The eighth session of the Third Parliament stands out as the session in which an urgent Bill from the Throne emerged for the first time in 15 years of democracy – The Gyalsuung Bill 2022.
In a historic step, Bhutan became the first country in the world to have a National Digital Identity (NDI) as a self-sovereign society. The NDI Act was also adopted.
The PM said that Bhutan faced a significant test in March 2020 when it reported its first verified case of Covid-19. Under the wise direction and close supervision of His Majesty The King, the government swiftly implemented measures to minimize the hazards and contain the virus’s spread within the nation. Bhutan’s response to the pandemic became an exemplar for the rest of the world.
Bhutan’s PM reiterated that His Majesty played a pivotal role in paving the way for Bhutan’s future. Under His Majesty’s guidance, the government initiated a series of reforms to revitalize the economy, which had been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Reforms in education and the civil service were also undertaken under His Majesty’s command.
The DNT secured a remarkable 55.1% of the total votes in the 2018 National Assembly (NA) election, marking a historic moment in Bhutan’s young parliamentary democracy. They officially assumed office on November 7, 2018, after a 10-day petition period following the election. With 30 out of 47 seats in the NA, along with 17 seats from the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), they formed the new government. However, the DNT won in by-elections held in the constituencies of Chhokhor Tang, Bumthang, Monggar, Khamdang Ramjar, Trashiyangtse, and Nganglam, Pemagatshel.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu