Democracy dialogue begins in Paro
October 12, 2009: Only a year old, and in fabricated form, in multi-party practice, Bhutan leads a democracy dialogue in Asia with the beginning of a seminar in Paro today.
The three-day conference, attended by some foreign scholars, cabinet ministers and members of parliament from the SAARC and BIMSTEC region and representatives of civil society, media and UN development partners, was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley on Sunday evening.
The participants will, besides sharing lessons and experiences in strengthening, deepening and sustaining democratic culture and values in Asia, will also teach Bhutan how to behave in democratic manner.
It is irony that a country who claimed democracy as unstable and unwanted form of governance some years back, is now making efforts to talk on democracy with foreign scholars.
It is organized by the Centre for Bhutan Studies and with support form US system in Bhutan.
“For Bhutan, this conference is of special significance, a celebratory event indeed, as it is happening just a year after our country held its first parliamentary elections and enacted its Constitution to make it the youngest democracy in the world,” said Thinley at the inauguration ceremony.
He called for wider definition of democracy and claimed democracy in current form remains incomplete unless spirits and values enshrined by gross national happiness are incorporated.
The UN assistant secretary-general, UNDP regional director for Asia and the Pacific, Ajay Chhibber said the conference marks the smooth and peaceful democratic transition in Bhutan and signifies the completion of the democratic election processes in the whole of South Asia.