Remembering the life and legacy of late Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji

The late Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji, who passed away earlier last week led a life marked by a strong sense of duty and determination. He is known among senior bureaucrats and elderly Bhutanese as a top statesman and a towering figure in Bhutan’s diplomatic landscape. In this story, we take a look at the life and legacy of Bhutan’s Heart Son whose career spans over 6 decades, serving the nation under the reign of three Monarchs.

The late Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji was born in Wangtsa village of Haa in 1941. Having had the opportunity to attend a school in Haa and then at Birla Bidya Mandir School in India, Lyonpo believed in transforming lives through education. Lyonpo’s family said he created opportunities for many Bhutanese to attend schools and colleges.

The Late Lyonpo Chenkyab’s service to the nation began in 1961 after he joined the civil service under the Department of Forests. He worked towards enhancing the country’s forest cover. He served the country in various capacities such as director, secretary and deputy minister before becoming the Minister for the Planning Commission.

He was responsible for the formulation of the 6th, 7th and 8th Five Year Plans. He accompanied His Majesty the Fourth King to consult the people and monitor and review development plans throughout the country.

He was the first chairman of the National Environment Commission and played an important role in the establishment of the Bhutan Environment Trust Fund.

As his family and colleagues recollect, Lyonpo was also an outstanding diplomat and had excellent public relations. He was the first resident Ambassador of Bhutan to Thailand and also assumed the post of the first Secretary General of SAARC. In addition to his official positions, he served for various important national bodies.

In 2008, His Majesty The King appointed Lyonpo as the first Chairman of the Privy Council.

He was a recipient of the Coronation Gold Medal from His Majesty the Fourth King in 1974. The following year, he was conferred the Red Scarf. His Majesty The Fourth King also bestowed him the orange scarf with the title of Lyonpo.

During the 110th National Day celebrations in Haa in 2017, His Majesty The King conferred him the Order of Druk Thuksey in recognition of his dedicated service to the nation.

Lyonpo’s family said, “His passing has left a huge void in the family. As we endeavour to come to terms with this irreplaceable personal loss, we take comfort in the fact that he lived a successful and  fulfilling life and above all, because he left after having had the greatest honour and privilege to serve His Majesty The King, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty The Third Druk Gyalpo.”

He passed away at the National Referral Hospital at the age of 82.

Lyonpo is survived by his wife, three children and seven grandchildren.

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