ABC Foreign Correspondent

Bhutan - Dragon Kingdom
Broadcast: 15/03/2005

Reporter: Peter Lloyd
FINAL STORY
SERIES 14
EPISODE 27

Synopsis


In a world where despots and dictators cling to power by any and often brutal means Bhutan’s much loved and revered King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is actively relinquishing his power.

Since coming to throne as a teenager thirty years ago the King’s acquired a god like reputation – to many outsiders he seems almost too good to be true – portrayed as a benevolent, modest and humble man devoted to his country and people.

“We are sandwiched by two billion people literally and yet we are an independent kingdom with a strong policy that preserves our environment – we still have our culture alive and we have one person to thank.” – that’s the view of Tshewang Dhendup author, broadcaster, bon vivant, poet and patriot.

The King is happily married to four wives – all sisters, a fact not lost on Australia’s former Deputy Prime Minister and ardent trekker Tim Fischer “the king leads from the front foot, no Swiss bank accounts no Lear jets and lives in a log cabin. Married to four sisters, kids by all four immediately people will think he must be a playboy he’s in fact anything but.”

Reporter Peter Lloyd accompanies Tim Fischer and his Australian touring party on a trek to the Tiger’s Nest Bhutan’s most famous monastery. The tourism dollars are vital to Bhutan’s economic development yet the king is on record as saying that gross national happiness is more important than gross national product.

“ I don’t think we’re going to see golden arches on the Tiger’s Nest.” - Tim Fischer

With a population of fewer than a million the great majority of Bhutanese are subsistence farmers. Life is difficult and demanding but the challenge is tempered by traditional Buddhist culture and beliefs.

Bhutan – a land of great beauty now an emerging democracy looking to engage the wider world.

Jojos had the opportunity to organise the ABC Foreign Correspondent trip to Bhutan. ABC was here in Bhutan from 14th October 04 to 24th October 04.

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