Lin Ruey-shiung (林瑞雄), the People First Party’s (PFP) vice presidential candidate, yesterday said he would visit Bhutan next week to study how it has managed to raise its Gross National Happiness (GNH) index with limited resources.
Lin, a retired epidemiologist and a political novice, said he is scheduled to leave for Bhutan on Monday for a “journey of learning” at the invitation of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
“I want to see for myself how Bhutan, with a gross national income of only about US$1,500 per capita, can achieve one of the world’s highest GNH levels,” Lin told a news conference held at the PFP’s presidential and legislative campaign headquarters.
Taiwan has much to learn from the Vajrayana Buddhist kingdom in the pursuit of equitable economic policy, revamp of traditional culture and values, environmental sustainability and efficient governance, Lin said.
Lin said he began to arrange his trip about two months ago.
“I have received an invitation from His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to offer counseling in public health promotion,” he said.
Lin said he also hopes to meet the former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
“I admire the king’s father’s foresight in coming up with the goal of pursuing GNH in the 1970s, when nearly all other countries around the world were still pursuing Gross National Product,” Lin said.
“His vision for prioritizing national happiness over economic growth or material production has impressed and moved many technologically advanced countries,” Lin said.
When the king and his new bride visited Japan earlier this year, they inspired many Japanese to think about what happiness means, Lin said.
While Japan’s per capita national income exceeds US$40,000, the percentage of Japanese people who feel they are happy is far below the level in Bhutan, where 97 percent feel they lead happy lives, Lin said.
In comparison, Taiwan has been on a steady decline due to the polarized confrontation between the country’s two major political camps over the past decade, he said.
“I earnestly hope to learn something from my Bhutan trip to help upgrade our GNH,” said the 72-year-old, who will wrap up his trip on Sunday, Dec. 31.
Lin, the running mate of PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), said he believes his trip will greatly boost support for the PFP ticket.
According to most opinion polls by media outlets and research institutes, Soong is trailing far behind his rivals — President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).