By Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, Kalon Tripa 2011 Candidate, 4/27/2011
The official results of the 2011 Kalon Tripa and Parliamentary elections of the Tibetan government were declared late last night by the Election commission in Dharmsala, India. Since early this morning I had to be available for the VOA Kunleng interview which was followed by many e-mails and calls. Hence this delay in communicating with all of you. My apologies.
I want to start by congratulating Lobsang Sangay la on his successful election to the office of the Kalon Tripa. I have already wished him success in carrying out the heavy responsibilities of the Tibetan government in exile. On a personal level, I cannot but say the results were a disappointment. However, when I look at the larger Tibetan picture, it is nowhere as critical as the suffering of the Tibetan people for over fifty years. The opportunity to offer my services and to participate in the election process was a rich and rewarding experience. I stand proud with all those who supported and campaigned for me. I believe that our efforts were a positive and meaningful contribution to this important democratic exercise.
Once more, I thank all those who supported and encouraged me to run for this office in the first place, and I especially want to thank all those who went out of their way to campaign on my behalf, offer donations, and to travel with me to many of the Tibetan communities and settlements. Your concerns for the future of Tibet and your deep involvement in our affairs is a source of great strength and encouragement to all. I also want to thank all those who came to meet me and to listen to what I had to say about the role and responsibilities of a Kalon Tripa and the daunting future we all face.
Tashi Delek and my very best wishes to all who have been elected on this important day.
With profound humility I accept the Tibetan people's support and the post of Kalon Tripa.
It is sobering to realize that nearly 50,000 people in over 30 countries voted in the recent Kalon Tripa and Chitue elections. Your overwhelming support is humbling and I will do my utmost to live up to your expectations.
I ran on a platform which surrounded the three core principles of unity, innovation and self-reliance. In keeping with that spirit, I would like to acknowledge the campaigns of the other two candidates, Trisur Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la and Kasur Tashi Wangdi la. It was a privilege to run against two extraordinary men with such distinguished records of public service. I have tremendous respect for both of them. I also want to thank Professor Samdhong Rimpoche for his steady leadership over the past ten years as our Kalon Tripa.
The recent Kalon Tripa and Tibetan parliamentary elections were by all accounts unprecedented. There was a level of enthusiasm from both the electorate and candidates that was never witnessed before. This enthusiasm was not limited to solely Tibetans in exile either. Tibetans inside Tibet followed the elections closely and I heard accounts of Tibetans lighting butter lamps, praying, and celebrating by bursting firecrackers. My heart was lifted when I even received messages of support and Khatas from Tibetans in Tibet. Outside of Tibet, Nepal interfered in our elections and disenfranchised thousands of Tibetan voters there. Still our people were not daunted. And Tibetans in over 30 countries cast their vote.
I view my election as an affirmation of the far-sighted policies of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and another important step towards the realization of his vision of a truly democratic Tibetan society. I believe the success of the recent Kalon Tripa and Chitue elections and the active participation of the Tibetans in the elections is a significant moral victory.
This campaign has been a great personal journey for me. I had a chance to visit Tibetans in many countries as well as most of the Tibetan settlements in India. I still vividly remember many of the interactions I had with fellow Tibetans while on the campaign trail. As I prepare to assume this important position of responsibility, their hopes and aspirations will continue to be at the forefront of my mind.
I am assuming leadership responsibility against the backdrop of His Holiness' magnanimous decision to devolve political authority to elected leaders. In contrast to the Jasmine revolution where people are giving up their lives to secure democracy, His Holiness' gesture demonstrates his faith in the Tibetan people. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is my inspiration and I will seek to achieve the ambitious objectives he has set for us. I take comfort in the fact that the changes we are going through are happening as per his vision and while His Holiness is healthy and available to watch over us. I am also confident that the democratic institutions and government we have in place will help sustain the Tibetan movement into the future.
I would like to sincerely thank all those who participated in the election because their participation strengthened our democracy. I want to extend my special thanks to my diligent and selfless supporters who set high standards by running a positive and constructive campaign. However, I would also like to appeal to my supporters to refrain from organizing celebration parties because the result of this election is not an individual loss or victory, but rather a mandate to shoulder the aspirations of six million Tibetans. We are already facing immense challenges including a critical situation in Ngaba and Amdo with Tibetans being killed and arrested by the Chinese government. I want to express my sincere appreciation and extend my deepest support to the people in Tibet who continue to show tremendous courage even in the most difficult of situations. Our hearts and minds are steadfastly with them.
I urge every Tibetan and friends of Tibet to join me in our common cause to alleviate the suffering of Tibetans in occupied Tibet and to return His Holiness to his rightful place in the Potala Palace.
The participation and enthusiasm we witnessed during the elections was overwhelming and I encourage everyone to continue being an active participant. The time has come for all Tibetans to take on greater responsibility. While I will do my utmost to fulfill the responsibility you have placed in me, the success of the next Kashag will depend on the engagement of all Tibetans. Together, I am confident we will march together towards a better future.
By Shobhan Saxena, Times of India, March 20, 2011
Lobsang Sangay, 43, has been on a campaign trail for two months, travelling to Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal and Bhutan. The Harvard law fellow is the frontrunner in the election for the post of kalon tripa , prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile . Sangay got 50% of the votes in the preliminary round and is hopeful of doing well in today's election. He talks politics, spiritual striving and the Dalai Lama to Shobhan Saxena. Excerpts:
The Dalai Lama's announcement he will retire from politics has stunned the Tibetans. What is the significance of his decision ?
In the history of the Dalai Lamas, it's the first time that there is transition from a traditional role to a modern process . Secondly, he really wants to invest in democratic institutions of the Tibetan government in exile , so that the movement can be sustained till freedom is restored in Tibet. Thirdly, he is devolving his power not only to an elected prime minister, but to the people. It's a reversal of the classic democratic process where the movement is bottom-up . In our case, it's coming down from the top. It's a karmic evolution of democracy.
Is he trying to ensure the Chinese aren't able to manipulate a post-Dalai scenario?
He is definitely challenging the Chinese government upfront. They have always criticized him as a religious leader who plays politics. Now he is saying 'I am giving political power to the people and you —the communist party —are holding all the power even though you may not enjoy the mandate of the people' .
But reports from Dharamshala suggest the community is not accepting his resignation.
Who can replace the Dalai Lama? It's a daunting task. Our government is in the name of His Holiness ; the dialogue with China is in his name; many supporters are with us because of him. It's very difficult for the parliament to find a solution to all this in one sitting. The Dalai Lama will always remain our leader.
As per the proposal, the new prime minister will be the political leader of Tibetans. Your plans if you become prime minister?
It's too presumptuous to assume that you will be elected. Anyway, whoever gets elected must take political decisions. He has to be at the front and reflect and represent the political aspirations of the Tibetan people. The next kalon tripa will also have to deal with China.
All three candidates for prime minister are based outside India, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile . Why?
If you look at the preliminary results, I got an overwhelming number of votes. If you look at the list of candidates, you'll see that the people want the next kalon tripa to be someone who is away from Dharamshala because we had top six or seven candidates having close links with Dharamshala . Now, people are aspiring for change. I got the highest number of votes not because I live in the US but because I am least connected with Dharamshala . On the other hand, the people want to see someone who is rooted in Tibetan tradition, who understands Dharamshala pretty well and, at the same time, has exposure to the West.
Barack Obama ran his presidential campaign as a Washington outsider. Are you running your campaign on similar lines?
Consciously, it's important to run my campaign as a Tibetan who wants to dedicate himself to the Tibetan cause. But, while campaigning, the question I was often asked and sometimes criticized for was not having the experience of working in Dharamshala. I have always replied, 'I am an outsider who understands Dharamshala' . This line seems to have been accepted by the people.
You have been involved in Track II diplomacy with Chinese scholars. Any positive results?
The Chinese are a complex set of people with diverse views. There are hardliners who don't recognize the tragedy of Tibet. There are some liberalminded scholars who understand, yet they are least influential back home because their chances of going to jail are higher than of influencing the Chinese government. There are some serious scholars who want to resolve the issue. At the moment, the hardliners reflect the views of the Chinese government . I have been doing Track II for the past 15 years. I have organized seven major conferences. In 2009, I arranged the Dalai Lama's meeting with 100 scholars from China. That's a breakthrough. The fact that people are talking is itself a positive result.
There is some confusion about what the movement wants. Some people talk of independence , the Dalai Lama wants autonomy...
The confusion is made out to be more than it actually is. Tibet was an independent country and it's entitled to independence and self-determination . But what the Dalai Lama says is that given the reality of China's might, we can negotiate genuine autonomy , which is pragmatic. We have sent nine delegations to Beijing; now some conclude that there is a stalemate. Hence, the younger generation is saying we should go back to our original demand of independence.
Recently the Dalai Lama called himself a son of India. How do describe yourself ?
I have never seen Tibet because China doesn't allow me to go there. Still, I am a proud Tibetan and I will die a proud Tibetan. While I live, I will work for the Tibetan people. But I was born in India. I drank Indian water. I have no hesitation in saying that the Indian government and people have been very generous . For the past 15 years, I have been at Harvard . The exposure that I have now is because of th e university and I am grateful to the US. Once you are born a refugee, it's difficult to say where your home is and our home always will be Tibet, but our second home is India.
You could have become a rich lawyer...
I was born a Tibetan. If I turn my back on Tibet and the Tibetan people, what example am I going to set for the younger generation? I have already decided to dedicate myself to the Tibetan cause.
But many Tibetans want to go abroad. Isn't that an issue within the community?
It's an issue. That's why I stood for this election so that I could set a trend whereby people in the west and even here could say that we all have to return and take ownership of the government. In the present election, the participation of the younger generation is huge. It's a very positive development.
By Anthony Vasquez, The Stanford Daily April 8, 2011.
Stanford scholar Tenzin Tethong, who chairs the Tibetan Studies Initiative, ran for ‘Kalon Tripa,’ or Prime Minister, of Tibet’s government-in-exile this March. Election results will be announced April 27.
Following the Dalai Lama’s recent announcement that he will leave politics, the Prime Minister’s leadership will likely be more important in the near future. Tethong’s opponents are Harvard scholar Lobsang Sangay and government-in-exile official Tashi Wangdi.
According to Tethong, the Tibetan exile population numbers approximately 150,000 people, and 80,000 to 90,000 of them registered to vote. To be eligible, voters needed to show proof of financial contribution to the India-based government-in-exile. The ultimate turnout was about 70 percent.
Tethong, who previously held the role of prime minister from 1990 to 1995, said he would work to promote greater awareness among the Chinese about the status of the six million Tibetans living in China if elected.
Tethong said he sees it as his duty to speak out on behalf of Tibetans living in China.
“We want the Chinese people to understand the true history of what’s happened in Tibet,” Tethong said. “We want the world to know that this is not just a complicated political problem, but that this is basically an issue about right and wrong, an issue about justice.”
In 1950, the People’s Liberation Army of China invaded Tibet. Dissatisfaction with Chinese rule led to unrest, culminating in a 1959 uprising in Lhasa during which tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed.
Tethong argued that Chinese leaders must acknowledge this past and allow Tibetans the right to self-determination.
“Tibetan society should be an open, free and democratic society,” he said. “That’s a good beginning point so we don’t have to argue about history, but we move ahead and see how best to help the Tibetan community.”
He asserted that although the Chinese government views social and political liberalization in Tibetan areas as a source of instability, greater freedom would actually lead to peace.
Born in Lhasa and raised in India, Tethong has been a life-long activist for Tibet. In 1967 he joined the government-in-exile as a translator, and in 1968 he helped start a magazine in India. From 1973 to 1990, he was the Dalai Lama’s representative in the United States.
Finally, he came to Stanford in 1995 after the history department invited him to teach a course on Tibetan history. Since then, he has instructed a number of courses on Tibet.
Tethong’s other duties at Stanford have included work with the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) and the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies. He has also been involved in fundraising for a chair in Tibetan Studies.
CCARE Director and School of Medicine professor James Doty praised Tethong as an experienced and committed leader.
“The next several years will be profound in regard to Tibetans and the Tibetan Diaspora community as His Holiness steps away from active participation in politics,” Doty wrote in an email to The Daily. “In this regard, it would seem that an individual who has demonstrated his commitment to the Tibetan people over decades, has the deep respect of His Holiness the Dalai Lama [and has] worked in a leadership position in essentially every major Tibet organization would be an ideal prime minister at such a time of uncertainty and change.”
Paul Harrison, professor of religious studies and co-Director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies concurred.
“One of the things he has on his side is experience because he served in that capacity before and he has the trust of the Dalai Lama and of many people in the Tibetan establishment,” Harrison said.
Tethong said his desire to improve the world keeps him motivated.
“I’m one of those who believes that the world can and should be a better place for all, and that’s part of what keeps me involved doing what one might call ‘community work,’” he said. “I choose to do most of that within the Tibetan community because I’m most familiar with that community. I understand its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s an area in which maybe I can make my best contribution.”
By Tenpa Dhargyal Gashi
The historic voting process has finally come to an end on both sides of the globe, if the globe can be divided into two that is. The turnout is guaranteed to be at least 70% of the registered voters which is a tremendous boost for our nascent (tell me when you get tired of this word) democracy and probably the first time it had reached that level in our history. Most of the credit for this vibrant election period can be attributed to the three candidates for their tireless work as they campaigned all over the world and especially to Dr.Lobsang Sangay and Kungo Tenzin Tethong. In particular, Dr.Lobsang Sangay has managed to unleash an unprecedented onslaught of campaigning before the Katri election had even begun, as he went around different settlements all over India and the west on his educational tour, stressing the importance and value of public participation. That early start left the other candidate scrambling to catch up with him as he led the preliminaries with 10,000 votes. It was actually a very smart move on his part because otherwise he would have been at a huge disadvantage being a complete unknown entity at that point and this strategy allowed him to put his face in front of the actual voters and connect with them on a human level. Even so, I am pretty sure the initial result probably shocked him too as much as it did everybody else.
After that, the proverbial gloves were off, and the campaign took on a life of its own and we saw the first ever western style campaign pit stops all across Tibetan settlements – actually twice for Dr.Lobsang Sangay as he later went on a ‘thank you tour’ for his preliminary win. No, I don’t know what that means either. Well attended debates were held in every major Tibetan settlement around the world in various formats and If I am not wrong, there were as many as 15 such debates or appearances organized which is extraordinary and surpasses even western countries in terms of pure volume. There were also special election editions from different news outlets and every endeavor was made to keep the public in the loop with continual updates on the candidates. There was much professionalism displayed from the organizers and every effort was made to be transparent on all fronts, even though sometimes the technology betrayed us.
We also witnessed fund raising events organized by supporters, websites launched, mass production of pamphlets, newsletters, DVDS, TV spots on Tibetan channels, various support groups formed, and even musical numbers if you can believe it! There also was a slew of articles written on the election on Tibetan Political Review (probably the only website who did not give in to partisan accusation) and various other sites from each candidate’s supporters and also a serious attempt by an individual to even do an opinion poll on the candidates which I thought was pretty well done although I must say the result would have been just confined to those with access to computer and internet. It was truly on an unprecedented level and a huge success. As I jokingly tell my friends, half the people got inspired by Dr.Lobsang Sangay and the other half got terrified that he might actually win this election. Why am I the only one who thinks it is funny?
Whatever it might be, the candidates managed to make this Katri election exciting, memorable, and probably the only election so far with such extensive campaigning (for the two main candidates at least), with their gracious appearances on Tibetan News shows, their willingness to undergo the hardships during their campaign all over the world often in less than amicable travel conditions, and by inspiring supporters to form volunteer groups who promoted their candidacy with zeal and passion and sometimes heated debates on Facebook and other social websites.
Personally, I was proud to represent Tenzing Namgyal Tethong and to be involved with his campaign team. Our team ran a very professional and a very clean campaign from the very beginning and have complied with everything the public needed to know whether it be about the deficit issue or finance transparency. I was particularly inspired by the grassroots participation from college students and other youths who went around campaigning on behalf of Tethong la in many settlements with well-organized and well prepared presentations. Regardless of whether Tethong la wins or not, I am sure he was tremendously impressed and moved by such show of faith and dedication in his candidacy, especially when it is from people who never even heard of him before this Katri Election and who were simply inspired by his lifetime of dedicated service to his country and
people. I am sure it must be the same for the other two candidates.
Now, that the campaign has officially concluded, I thought I will share few thoughts on this election. Although, this election has been a huge success and has certainly created a new benchmark in almost every facet of public participation and it spells great hope for future engagement between the Government and the people, there are some areas that could use a little upgrading and tuning up for the future, as with any endeavors in life.
One of the chief overhaul or upgrading needs to happen with the Election Commission itself. Although, they have performed as expected in this election, they did show some weaknesses that we could possibly fix so that next time we are better prepared. One of the factors relates to its flexibility with emergency contingency planning which revealed serious flaws, particularly with Nepal and possibly even Bhutan interfering in the election process. I understand the position of the current Commissioner but I wished he had been a little more creative toward the end. There must be some sort of contingency plan in place which can be implemented under the sole authority of the Election Commissioner if we are to fully represent all our citizens in the future. Right now, I am made to understand that any changes in the election rules have to be approved by the Chitue and therefore there is no recourse if something like this happens in the future. Introducing voting by mail, voting Online, going door to door, or even stretching the Election Day into a week for the area affected could all be options that must be available for the Election Commissioner, so we won’t have a repeat of Nepal vote nullification.
The second thing I feel we need to look at is the full disclosure of the result, broken by area, precincts, age, gender, etc so that we can get a well informed outlook on the whole result. I have written on this disclosure issue before after the Preliminary results were announced as I wanted to know where my candidate needed to make more of an effort to garner votes. Aside from being fodder for the statisticians, I feel it will prove very educational for all concerned and allow us to get insights into the thought processes of the electorates and the changing dynamics of the population. More importantly, It will leave less room for uninformed rumors based on hearsay and that alone will be move in the right direction, especially when it comes to Chokha vote propensity. The more open we are as a society, the less room we leave for erroneous speculations based on faulty information. Numbers don’t lie.
The third thing is the timeline for the vote counting and vote declaration. If preliminary vote results are anything to go by, which was a month’s gap, then it leaves a huge vacuum between the Election Day to the day the results are disclosed to the public. I am not exactly asking for the results that very night but a timeframe that is not more than one week. I believe a tally is done at the polling station itself in most cases and then the ballots shipped to Dhasa, so it is not like it is something totally unfeasible. Besides, there are constant leaks coming out from most of the polling stations, leading to too many speculations already. If VOA or RFA could report the initial result as they are come in from different polling stations and analysts give their thoughts on how it will pan out and what different scenarios could occur and what needs to happen for one candidate to triumph over the over etc, it could make for a very engaging experience for all concerned. I could envision a whole show based simply on predictions and bar charts and discussion of raw numbers. I know touch screen maps and expandable screens are out of our reach at the moment but I think you can pretty much guess where I am going with this. I don’t know if this is practiced yet and I am leaning towards NO, we need representatives of the candidates themselves to witness the vote counting and make sure there are no untoward activities being perpetuated at particular localities. I personally don’t know who is handling the vote count right now and what sort of affiliations they might harbor. That way it will leave less room for controversy later on.
The fourth is the number of candidates allowed in the final election. This is nothing against any one candidate and also it can’t said to be without precedent either as we have observed it in the US elections too. Oh, before I forget, if you have been wondering, the role of Ross Perot in this election has been played by Kungo Tashi Wangdi la as I sort of predicted in an earlier piece. Well, not exactly by name but the gist was the same as the margin of votes between the top two candidates and rest was enormous as to be practically a non-starter for any serious chance for winning the election. Be that as it may, coming back to the topic at hand, I wasn’t aware of it initially but few people voiced their concern to me that if a candidate doesn’t win by majority votes, it will somehow weaken the post itself. I believe they were echoing H.H’s initial hope during the first Katri election that it would be highly desirable and beneficial if the elected person wins by huge margin. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it is against the law or what have you because I know there are some people out there who are dying to take words out of context and run with it.
Just to be sure, let me dumb it for them. Let’s say Candidate A wins 40% of the votes, followed by 35% for candidate B and then 25% for candidate C, the new Katri will have won only 40% of the Tibetan voters whereas 60% voted for someone else. Although I am sympathetic to that view I also realize the process itself is more important than the candidates and who is to say whether one of the Candidates in this election might possibly win by more than 50% - in spite of delusional people making ridiculous predictions. Nonetheless, I believe it is something to think about in the future.
The last important issue that must be looked at seriously is financial transparency in the future elections as that wasn’t properly implemented in this one as Dr.Lobsang Sangay pretty much ignored all calls for financial transparency while the other two complied with it. There is a reason why it is considered important in other countries in their elections as no one wants undue influence from shady organizations or special interest groups intruding upon this most precious proceeding of a democratic system. I am not implying anything by it but I was disappointed that Dr.Lobsang Sangay totally blew it away as another unnecessary element of this election, especially since he has some knowledge of the law. This is not about a single person but about the successful continuation of a process in place that was bestowed upon us by none other than Kundun. Frankly, I was not satisfied with his explanation on that front. Hopefully, a clear directive would be drawn up by the Election Commission so future candidates would abide by it.
Oh, get an independent website of your own next time.
The Role of Media and Journalists:
I must say and when I say ‘I’, I mean the general consensus of the people around me and although I don’t know how profound an impact it will have on my claim, the consensus is that the Media and especially the Tibetan journalists did not live up to the expectation. Of course, there were some exceptions and there were some hard questions posed to the candidates from some Journalists but as a whole, the questions seemed like they were picked out of a board exam preparatory Made Easy books with readymade answers attached to it. Frankly it left much to be desired. Regardless of their personal biases or general inclinations or what not, it is still every journalist’s duty to grill each and every candidate and make sure every facet of the candidate is made known to public and if there are inconsistencies, it must be sought out and put to rest, instead of leaving it in the hands of individuals to do the job of a journalist. The general feeling I got was most of them were afraid of stepping on candidate’s toe and be labeled as a closet supporter of the other candidate. Lord knows character assassination had been constant in this election and anybody who is even perceived to be overly hard on a particular candidate is branded as ‘bought’ or ‘paid for’ by some people. Sometimes, it is enough to just share the last name to mislabel a whole organization. To that end, I must admit I might have unwittingly put Namgyal Shastri on the spot with an article for which he was promptly knocked off the perch and insidious rumors were spread on the internet about his personal relationships with Tethong. So, there is that. While I could sit here and feel outraged at such behaviors I must admit these things are nothing new - although the level was ridiculously high. Maybe, it reflects the brand new smell of democracy in our society that we cannot distinguish the role of a journalist as a neutral third party.
Hopefully, that will change in the future because when journalists feel threatened or ostracized for doing what they are supposed to be doing, it bodes ill for democracy itself. On this front, I must once again congratulate Namgyal Shastri and the Moderator from Dhasa for RFA for their stellar performances. And I know I am being unfairly hard on them being new and all at this level of campaigning, still I would be remiss if I don’t point out the duty of a journalist is to pursue the truth at all cost. I am not saying it is not hard to be out in the open like this, especially in a small society like ours where personal interactions are at very close quarters and personal relationships could very well be frayed due to some people’s childish behavior. I guess what I am trying to say is that the price of investigative journalism is quite steep and the title of a journalist might have to be earned with a sullied image and dirty look from people. So, you want to be a journalist?
I felt there was a lot more debate than was necessary if you can even call it a debate to begin with. A ‘Question & Answer’ session might be the correct terminology for it as the aptly named one held by Tibetan Women’s association in Dhasa. A debate is a chance for Candidates not only to present their platform but more importantly to point out the inconsistencies of their opponent’s position in public and to answer questions regarding any doubts of their own. It is the time to present the difference between oneself and the opponent’s position and to extol the virtue of your own platform. I understand it might be uncomfortable for Tibetan politicians to engage in this sort of debate due to the cultural norms and they would rather take the high road and hope the people understand the subtleties of their policies on their own. On a side note, I did hear one of the Moderator gently encourage the candidates to be more engaged (refute the position of the others) with each other and to make it more lively in one such debate but still no cigar. So, it wasn’t like attempts were not made and time slots provided to offer rebuttal. Maybe, the moderator needs to get more creative in the future and ask a candidate’s opinion on his opponent’s position on certain policies and spice it up a little.
In any case, 15 such appearances is not only way too much and generates the same old stale questions which have been answered for the umpteenth time but also quite taxing for candidates who didn’t get a chance to visit different settlements and they have to fit all of these debates and other personal appearances on VOA or RFA with their travel arrangements. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the candidate didn’t really care one way or the other and was only there for the ride. I would suggest reducing the “Q &A” sessions to half that amount and to announce it beforehand so that the candidates are fully aware of how to proceed with their campaign. I am thinking about 2 in North America and about 3 in India which are of course telecast live via internet (hopefully much better this time). If the Election Commissioner can allocate the dates and the locality of the said debates beforehand after consultation and approval of the said Candidates, it will reduce the really annoying that-group-did-it-so-we-have-to-organize-one-too sort of mentality I observed and the ensuing debate about why one candidate didn’t attend that particular debate. Let all the Tibetan communities sent in their applications and pick the ones that will result in huge turnout.
There is also something to be said about the duration of the debate itself. Although, the ones on VOA was well sectioned and time well managed, there were some that was like watching Tibetan Opera minus the music and was god awfully long. It didn’t help that there were technical difficulties and it was held at the most inconvenient time.
There is a whole misconception regarding Negative campaigning and critical questioning. People either can’t distinguish between the two or they are deliberately blurring the distinction to fool the public but every time hard questions are asked of Candidates, accusations of Negative campaigning abound to the total vexation of intelligent observers. It was becoming so bad that even debate organizers were afraid to allow ‘personal’ questions to be asked of Candidates ending up making the whole proceeding a snooze fest. This sort of crying wolf tactic is in of itself negative campaigning but more importantly it is tantamount to betrayal of the spirit of democracy itself, especially when journalists and private individuals are deliberately targeted to silence them. When something like this happens, it is the duty of every journalists and organizations to come forward and decry such behavior. As much as I would like to entertain the idea that future campaigns will be free of such antics, I am pretty sure people will push the envelope on that front again.
So, let me give you some examples of what might be considered negative campaigning and what might not fall under that definition. Questioning the ethnicity of a Candidate’s wife(both candidates), his family members, his ancestry (Kudrak), or labeling neutral organization like SFT and TYC, or even Moderators and Organizers is definitely Negative since they are not running for the Katri post. The candidate himself is usually considered fair game even though there is a limit to everything and in a civilized world it would be strictly limited to his actual personal history, his work experiences, his previous voting records and his promises and statements. If possible, let us try to keep the dirty laundry amongst ourselves instead of blatantly firing off an email full of lies to 400 plus individual Tibet supporters and Support groups. I am sure they have better things to do than to listen to some spineless individual bent on promoting his own candidate at the cost of our society.
Lastly, I want to go back to a really annoying theme that has been perpetuated in this election which made me feel like we were reliving Cultural Revolution in exile without the Dunce hat and the elaborate lettering and that is the illusion of Kudraks being in power in exile. It was especially distasteful when it was propagated by supposedly western educated individuals and makes one wonder what kind of education they are actually getting. Some of their talking points were eerily familiar with our 50 cents counterparts I felt really disgusted at the whole thing. First of all, it has been a non issue for the longest time with the introduction of democratic principles and secondly nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, the initial cabinets were filled with them because we didn’t really have a choice back then but for the last 30 years or so, only 7 of the 54 Kalons have been from Kudrak background (86% were non-Kudraks) and only 1 of the past 8 kalon Tripas had Kudrak background. The myth of the common man arising out of the ashes of past is just that: a myth.
Corollary to that let me bust another myth that is spread dutifully by some insidious people like a sexual disease: Utsang voters are somewhat biased toward Khampas. Either they are just plain stupid or they have poison running in their veins because that is a bold face lie and quite dangerous for a very fragile society like ours and very divisive. All you have to do is take a look at the Kalon Tripas and Kalons in the last thirty years or so and you will get a better picture. Despite Utsangs being the strong majority in exile, the majority of the Kalons have been from the Kham region from the time Parliament started electing Kalons (1990 Onwards = 15 Kham, 14 Utsang, 12 Amdo) and the number didn’t diverge too much even if you went back 30 years or so (20 Kham, 25 Utsang, 13 Amdo). The overwhelmingly majority of Kalon Tripa terms from the fifth Kashag onwards have been held by Khampas (6 kham, 2 Utsang, 1 Amdo) for the same period. That is another reason why I think voting pattern in exile should be disclosed to the public to show the lack of substance behind that assertion. You don’t have to look no further than the previous two terms of Samdhong Rinpoche. I bring this up because we really need to get away from this mentality if we are truly serious about Unity. If anybody brings it up next time, please smack that mouth with a chappal because they would be asking for it. Hard.
All in all, this has been a tremendous success for our democratic system in terms of public participation and it became especially significant when Kundun recently devolved his political powers and sought amendments in the constitution to make it official. Now, let us find out how we performed in our first outing post Kundun’s political leadership with a New Katri and Chitue. At the end of the day, Tibetan people won by actively participating in their own future. Whoever becomes our Prime Minister will need our support and our collective recognition as it should be but at the same time we have to make sure we hold them responsible for decisions made and policies implemented and don’t allow them to shift the blame upwards like usual. We owe it to Kundun to be more active in our own Government. Let us not let him down. Bodh Gyalo!
By Lisa Wangsness and Maria Sacchetti
Boston Globe / March 22, 2011
Lobsang Sangay grew up in a Tibetan refugee settlement in Darjeeling, India. His parents sold one of the family’s three cows to pay for his school fees. He went on to university and then law school in Delhi, before winning a Fulbright scholarship that brought him to Harvard.
Today, Sangay is a research fellow at Harvard Law School and lives with his wife and daughter in Medford. He drives a Honda and loves the Patriots and Red Sox. And now, he is poised to become the most powerful elected leader in the history of the Tibetan government in exile.
Sangay, 43, is the strong favorite to win election as Kalon Tripa, a Tibetan title generally translated as prime minister. The voting took place in exile communities around the world Sunday; the results of the three-way contest are to be announced late next month.
The election has taken on special significance since the Dalai Lama’s announcement earlier this month that he plans to relinquish his role as the political representative of his exiled people and focus his energy on his spiritual leadership.
The political challenges facing the Tibetan people are enormous. They are seeking greater autonomy from China, but their influential longtime leader, the Dalai Lama, is now 75, and China is becoming a more powerful player on the global stage.
In a telephone interview yesterday from Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, Sangay said that if he wins, his top priorities will be “to make efforts to restore freedom in Tibet; to alleviate the suffering of the Tibetan people in Tibet; to end political repression and economic marginalization, cultural assimilation, and the environmental destruction taking place in Tibet.’’
“It’s tough,’’ he said. “But someone has to do it, and whoever gets elected will have a major role to play.’’
Sangay has never been to Tibet; his attempt to travel there was barred by the Chinese government.
He said that, if elected, he would continue to support policies articulated by the Dalai Lama, who led his people into exile in 1959 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 30 years later. Sangay criticized what he called the Chinese government’s hard-line policies toward Tibet, which, he said, “make a breakthrough very difficult.’’
But, he said, “I believe in nonviolence. I do believe nonviolence should be the way to move forward.’’
Sangay’s opponents are older, and boast decades of government experience. Tenzin N. Tethong, a fellow at Stanford University, represented the Dalai Lama in New York and Washington, D.C., and Tashi Wangdi has represented the Dalai Lama in Europe since 2005. Both men have served in the Cabinet of the Tibetan government in exile.
But Sangay won the preliminary election last fall by a wide margin, capturing more than 22,000 votes to runner-up Tethong’s 12,000.
Observers of Tibetan politics say Sangay, a dynamic speaker, appealed to voters by getting to know them in his scholarly travels over the years and in an unusually vigorous round of campaigning in Tibetan refugee communities over the last year.
Tenzin Wangyal, a member of the editorial board of the Tibetan Political Review, said Sangay campaigned early and aggressively, visiting refugee settlements in India, as well as in the United States and Europe.
“It’s the Tibetan nature to not be very assertive and to see any efforts to gain political power . . . [as] somebody trying to do something for personal gain,’’ Wangyal said. But Sangay, he said, deserves praise for his outreach, which put pressure on the other candidates “to step up or be left behind.’’
Dhondup Phunkhang, a 37-year-old community organizer in Somerville, met Sangay at a birthday party in Roxbury in 1997. He recalls Sangay as “extremely confident and ambitious,’’ but also friendly and approachable.
“Lobsang has a huge amount of presence,’’ Phunkhang said. “In our society, generally if people work for the government or have a certain stature, naturally people become afraid to approach that individual. It’s a little more intimidating. He didn’t seem to be that way.’’
Phunkhang said Sangay’s experience outside government is part of his appeal.
“He energized a lot of people to come out and to get involved,’’ Phunkhang said.
But Sangay is also extremely well connected through Harvard, by giving lectures around the world, and through his work with Tibetan officials in India and New York, said Phunkhang, who spent a year working with Sangay and other organizers to prepare for the Dalai Lama’s 2009 visit to Massachusetts. The event helped raise more than $700,000, much of it to help build a cultural center for Tibetans in Massachusetts.
Kalsang Namgyal, a board member of the Tibetan Association of Boston, said Sangay has been able to bridge the gap between generations of Tibetans who often disagree about how best to advocate for the Tibetan cause.
In the interview, Sangay described himself as a onetime hard-core activist who preferred “banging on tables’’ to diplomacy. But, he said, his time at Harvard helped him become a more sophisticated thinker with the skills to engineer a series of conferences between Chinese and Tibetan officials.
“Coming to Harvard made me more rational,’’ he said. “Eventually you learn . . . to get to know the person from another perspective. You exchange views more freely and more forthrightly.’’
William P. Alford, director of East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard Law, said Sangay made “tremendous efforts’’ to reach out to Chinese students at Harvard.
“He listened a lot,’’ Alford said. “He spent a tremendous amount of time listening to quite a broad range of Chinese students. He was actually much more effective because he wasn’t trying to proselytize.’’
Sangay has won particular praise for organizing a series of conferences at Harvard that brought together mid-level Chinese and Tibetan officials.
Janet Gyatso, a professor of Buddhist studies at Harvard Divinity School, said the events provided an opportunity for the officials to interact without the political pressure of a high-level diplomatic encounter.
“Inch by inch, little by little, a lot can be done to make things better [in Tibet], even though they’re not going to win back independence,’’ she said.
But Sangay’s diplomatic efforts have also brought him criticism. He traveled to China on a temporary “Overseas Chinese National’’ travel document to meet with Chinese academics; his acceptance of such a document upset some who reject the notion that Tibet is part of China. Sangay said it was the only way he was able to travel to China, and not an acknowledgment of Chinese citizenship.
Gyatso said one of the main challenges Sangay will face if he wins is balancing the desires of a strongly pro-independence exile community with a Chinese government that has as yet shown no signs of yielding greater autonomy to Tibetans.
“In order to negotiate with the People’s Republic of China, one has to make a lot of concessions,’’ she said. “In order to maintain his credibility with the community in exile, he can’t be seen as too friendly or too willing to make concessions.’’
International Parliamentarians Praise Tibetan Elections:
Calls upon the International Community to support Tibetan democratic institutions at this historic moment
21 March, 2011, Dharamsala – The International Network of Parliamentarians for Tibet (INPaT), as part of a worldwide initiative, deployed a team of experts to conduct a Tibetan Election Observation Mission (TEOM) where Tibetans yesterday voted to elect the Kalon Tripa (Chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet) and the 44 members of the 15th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE). TEOM delegations composed of parliamentarians observed polling stations in northern and southern India in addition to nations in Europe and North America.
This preliminary statement includes reports from all the above mentioned areas.
Unfortunately, we regret that the Nepalese government refused to allow Tibetans in their country to vote, setting a worrying trend for democracy in Nepal.
INPaT was formally invited by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) "to initiate a process of observing the final elections on the 20th of March 2011 in different parts of the world where Tibetan exiles vote for their leaders in the Cabinet and the Parliament."
INPaT TEOM praises the Tibetan people for their long standing commitment to democracy and the enthusiasm with which they embraced the elections held yesterday. It is remarkable that an exiled refugee community has been able to organize, for many decades, such an orderly managed democratic exercise.
The announcement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to relinquish His temporal and to concentrate His time on His spiritual and religious role and the promotion of secular ethics and religious harmony in the world, makes these elections not only historic but will contribute to further developing the Tibetan institutions in exile towards the creation of a full democratic system.
We have been impressed by the way in which the organization of elections has taken place over the last months, with the serious and effective implementation of a plan to:
-identify and register qualified voters, as shown by the fact that these elections reached the highest number ever of registered voters;
-coordinate the set up of the electoral process in several continents which resulted in a calm and positive election day atmosphere;
-guarantee the right of Tibetans to exercise their right to vote and to run in elections, by effectively promoting and informing eligible Tibetans to participate;
-ensure a level playing field for the candidates, both for Kalon Tripa and Parliamentary seats.
INPaT TEOM’s final report on these elections, to be issued by the end of April, will contain recommendations to the new Parliament to improve the Tibetan democratic system by reviewing the electoral laws to reflect general international standards and in particular:
-electoral financing laws and regulations;
-participation of women;
-regional voting system.
The Tibetan example of the development of democratic institutions and systems are a model for nascent democracies around the world and we encourage the international community to assist the Tibetan institutions in exile to continue to evolve and improve on their success.
We would like to thank Tibetan Government in Exile, Tibetan Parliament in Exile and the Tibetan Election Commission and all other institutions, including Tibetan NGOs for providing full understanding, cooperation and assistance to our mission, and who were very generous to accommodating us.
Mr. Matteo Mecacci, Co-Chair, INPaT TEOM - +39 347 968 2837
Senator Consiglio Di Nino, INPaT TEOM Member - +1 613 943 1454
Ms. Tsering Jampa, INPaT Secretariat Coordinator - +31 6 2900 4547
Mr. Ngawang Choephel [Drakmargyapon], INPaT TEOM Coordinator - +91 (0)78 29221250
-- 133 Members from 33 worldwide Parliaments who took part in the 5th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet (18/19 November 2009, Rome) adopted the "Rome Declaration on Tibet" which constituted the International Network for Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT).
By Pema Norbu, Earlham College, U.S.A.
Over the last few months, the
issue of the Kalon Trip election has captured the attention of all Tibetan
people scattered around different parts of the globe and has generated
some intense debates. The public discussions and debates on the Kalon
Tripa election were further intensified by the campaigning groups and
supporters of each candidate, dedicated to promote their own candidate.
I have been following the events and processes of the Kalon Tripa election
since the beginning of its campaign. I was bit concerned about how the
public would react to this event given the relatively short history
of Kalon Tripa directly elected by people through the ballot system.
The primary election result speaks more in depth about how well we are
prepared and educated on politics of democracy. However, I was overwhelmed
by the number of Tibetans who took the initiative in the process of
the election campaign through news media, social networks and public
gatherings. If we choose to live by democratic principles, this marks
the begging of our movement towards democracy and what we do today will
define the course of our political future.
the implications of this election is helpful in choosing a right person.
I urge Tibetans of all walks of life to choose the right candidate who
has the courage to take responsibility as well as the wisdom to guide
our struggle for freedom, justice and human dignity. In this critical
juncture of our history, we cannot afford to deceive ourselves by short
sighted views of regionalism, emotional attachments and power struggle.
Every single Tibetan shares this responsibility and must execute the
duty of democracy by faithfully caste one’s vote to a person who deserves
we give a thoughtful look at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s historic
statement on the 10th of March and his message to the Fourteenth Assembly
of the Tibetan People’s Deputies, His Holiness’s vision is clear;
the modernization of Tibetan political system must reach its full bloom.
His Holiness’s vision to modernize the Tibetan political system is
not unknown to our history but unfortunately, it is becoming a stranger
to many Tibetans today. The modernization reform was first introduced
by 13th Dalai Lama in 1913 to preserve Tibet’s sovereignty
and put Tibet into the global orbit of modern civilization. However,
much needed reform failed to occur due to internal resistances from
both monastic and civilian bureaucrats and looming external occupying
pressures from outsiders, particularly the British and the Chinese.
This unfinished task has been the main concern of the His Holiness the
14th Dalai Lama since he assumed Tibetan
spiritual and temporal role at the tender age of sixteen. When Dalai
Lama escaped Tibet in 1959, he sought guidance from the then Indian
Prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and was allowed to establish
the Tibetan community in India. With Dalai Lama’s unflinching determination
and the Indian government’s supports, the Tibetan community in exile
has become a fully functioning society with a democratic government
at its heart and schools to impart modern education to young Tibetans.
I am one of those young Tibetans who grew up in India and received a
modern education in Tibetan schools in India. Like me every year, thousands
of Tibetans receive education comparable to the 21st century global educational standards.
According to the Tibetan Government in exile’s second demographic
survey conducted by its Planning Commission in 2009, the literacy rate
of Tibetans in exile above age 6 is 82.4 percent higher than many countries
around the world. This is a millstone achievement in education comparing
to pre-1959 Tibet.
the rapidly shifting global political climate and current situation
of Tibet, the time has come to put the His Holiness’s reform into
practice. The careful reading of our exile history clearly suggests
that His Holiness has been preparing for this critical political transition
since the reestablishment of Ganden Phodrang Government on the charter
of modern democracy in 1960s. His Holiness clearly asserted in his message
to the Tibetan People’s Deputies, “Since
I was young, I have been aware of an urgent need to modernize the Tibetan
political system. However, I had a strong wish to introduce appropriate
reforms in accordance with the changing times and was able to effect
some fundamental changes. Unfortunately, I was unable to carry these
reforms any further due to circumstances beyond my control”. His Holiness
expressed his vision for political transition in many occasions and
both Tibetan government officials and people remained deft or unwilling
to answer his calls.
Over the years, His Holiness’s statements on
this issue have been growing more and more assertive and on his speech
given on the 10th of March 2011, His
Holiness finally set a time line for this transition. However, government
officials are still living in self-doubt and seem unwilling to take
the political responsibility their offices demand of them. We should
seriously consider His Holiness’s proposal and need to take necessary
reform measures while the Dalai Lama is with us. Dissolving the political
role does not mean that His Holiness evades his responsibility of a
respected spiritual leader and simply as a Tibetan citizen. Therefore,
His Holiness’s guidance and advices on important political matters
will always be available to Tibetans regardless of His Holiness political
power such as signing bills to pass legislation. In reality, this change
in roles does not affect His Holiness’s guidance role to Tibetans,
but it alters Tibetan people’s degree of commitment and responsibility.
We have been regretting our failure to pursue His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama’s much
anticipated modernization reforms in Tibet. The time will come when
we are blaming ourselves again if we choose to walk away from this critical
implications of this political transition are something many people
don’t take adequately into consideration. Firstly, the smooth political
transition will slowly make our government self-reliant and less dependent
on one man. Sooner or later, we have to face this political vacuum and
we must prepare to face such a circumstance without losing hope.
a successful political transition will force Beijing to rethink its
ad-hoc policy on Tibet; reducing issue of six million Tibetans as a
private matter of the Dalai Lam. It further weakens Beijing’s much
politicized campaign to intervene in Tibetan spiritual matters, particularly
the disputed matter of reincarnation of Tibetan Lamas.
Thirdly, it helps
us to create a more secular society, where the flower of Dharma will
blossom with its full fragrance of love and compassion without being
tainted by cynicism politics. The purity of the Dharma teaching will
be preserved when doctrine of faith does not dilute with affair of politics. Moving towards secularism is a trend where contemporary world is aggressively
heading with chaos and violence. We have to transform ourselves with
the constantly shifting global order and continuous evolution of human
civilization. Our inability to adapt to such changes in the past resulted
in my opinion in the loss of our sovereignty and we became victims of
Fourthly, it reduces the burden on His Holiness and
will help him to realize his vision to promote religious harmony and
world peace which are also foundational interests of Tibetan people.
Given His Holiness’s role as a global spiritual leader, his popularity
and message of peace and harmony will continue to reach further across
this shadowed world. Unlike other countries, dispute between politics
and religion is not an issue in our community, however the current condition
of global political climate induces grave misunderstandings of the role
of the Dalai Lama in Tibetan politics. China’s aggressive campaigns
on old Tibet as a “fiefdom state” under the leadership of the Dalai
Lama further cloud people’s vision to see His Holiness clearly.
if we are true follower of Buddha; we need willingness to serve in the
realm of politics in order to give His Holiness a break from worldly
issues so tainted with grime of politics. His Holiness is about to cross
the age of seventy five and on the occasion of his seventy sixth birthday,
we have to offer our best prayer (Chopha) by fulfilling his wish; a
smooth transition of political power. Our centuries of old Lama- follower
sacred relation with His Holiness will never cease to be end until the
day when we lose our faith.
By Tenzin Dhanze
This is a video that I created in an attempt to persuade voters to make an educated choice on March 20, 2011. Like HHDL states, we need to be engaged and actively participate in this election and cast our ballots solely on the candidate’s qualifications. It is imperative that we make the right decision given our current predicament. We also have to take into account the silenced voices of our brothers and sisters when casting this vote.
This is why we need to cast an educated vote; it is crucial that we research and examine where each candidate stands on major topics concerning the Tibet issue. It is not only important to recognize each candidate’s policy, but also to explore how they seek/attempt to accomplish these policies.
We need someone who has not only dedicated their time towards the Tibetan Community, but also someone who can take the initiative to establish innovative programs to expand and further the Tibetan people. Most importantly, we need someone who has leadership qualities that is evident not only during their campaign run for Kalon Tripa, but also in their past accomplishments.
The educated choice is to vote for Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la (TNT) for Kalon Tripa. It is when we cast our votes based on societal and regional prejudices that we stray from casting an educated vote. But as HHDL has stated, our decisions should be based only on the qualifications of the candidates.
If we truly want what is best for Tibet and the rest of the Tibetan community, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la is the right choice for Kalon Tripa.
Please Vote for TNT on March 20, 2011.
By Dhondup Phunkhang, Boston
Recently, a topic of discussion within Boston and in some online forums has been around the fact that Lobsang Sangay la hasn’t held a talk in his hometown of Boston. Some of his supporters, and other individuals in Boston including me, have asked him to speak but now, with the election just a few days away, it appears that Lobsang la will not be holding any campaign event here. Given that he's visited just about every other Tibetan community in the world, this begs the question as to why?
I have known Lobsang Sangay la for over ten years. We served on the first Tibetan Association of Boston (TAB) Board of Directors for three years, worked together on His Holiness’s trip to Boston in 2009 for a year with sixteen other Tibetans and on various other community and Chinese outreach programs. I have always found him to be a personable, confident go-getter, and a captivating speaker.
Early last year, Lobsang la and I spoke at length about organizing a “proper debate” with rebuttals, and half of it to be in English for our younger members here in Boston and worldwide. TAB tried to organize this but sadly, this debate never panned out due to conflicting schedules. The next best thing was to have the final three Kalon Tripa candidates speak directly to the public. I am grateful to the various Boston supporters of Katri Surpa Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la and Kasur Tashi Wangdu la who invited their candidates for events on Dec 19th and Feb 20th, respectivel,y and for which I had the honor of being the MC.
As a follow-up to the visits of the other two candidates, I asked Lobsang la about any plans to hold a talk in Boston when I saw him at the VOA debate in Washington DC. He said, “I’ll be talking in Boston on March 18th.” I offered to help and his reply was, “let’s talk in Boston”. Just a few days later, when I saw him at Losar he said, “I don’t see the need to talk here but maybe I will”. Naturally, I was a little taken aback by this considering what he had said in DC.
In the back and forth over why Lobsang la has not once talked to the Boston public since the announcement of his candidacy, people have speculated on various possible reasons that I would like to discuss and respond to here. They include:-He doesn’t feel the need to talk here because he has public support.
At the debate in New York City, Lobsang la indicated that he knew he had won Boston in the primaries. Aside from the fact that I found it outrageous that a Kalon Tripa candidate would reveal leaked information in such a way - information that we cannot verify - I think it shouldn't matter whether or not Lobsang la thought he had won Boston. Even the most seasoned politicians hold events in their home ridings, especially if they enjoy huge public support. Holding such an event is important not just for the sake of the campaign, but it's a sign of respect to the community that indicates the candidate cares for the people with whom he has lived and worked over many years.-He doesn’t have enough time.
That may be the case right now at this late date, but it wasn’t for the last year. Lobsang la has found time to visit the smallest of settlements in India, some several times over, and at the end of all of these trips he has been returning to Boston, even if only for a few days at a time.-Even Tashi Wangdu la didn’t speak in Europe (his last home).
Tashi Wangdu la didn't start campaigning until the very last minute and he hasn’t spoken in many places. Lobsang la, on the other hand, has been campaigning for more than a year and has spoken everywhere but Boston.-There is not a lot of support for him here or he may face tough questions as the Boston public knows him best.
Even if there were tough questions to be answered in Boston, as someone seeking public office, Lobsang la has a responsibility to meet the people and address their concerns head on. Clearly, he has the ability to do this as he has addressed many tough questions on the campaign trail.
I believe we need to hold all our candidates to high standards of accountability, especially those applying for the highest office. I feel we Tibetans have achieved a lot in the last 52 years, largely due to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s leadership. The overwhelming international public support and Tibet’s continued relevancy in today’s world has much to do with His Holiness’s tireless work, his moral authority, integrity and credibility; these are values I feel we need to look for in our new Kalon Tripa especially as he will be taking over much of His Holiness’s political role.
I believe we need change but change with values and meaning. Given that we don’t have a country, we have limited funds, no legal judicial system, very little media and certainly no formal independent regulators doing fact checks, we are left only with ourselves and our personal and collective character. The public has a right to ask questions regardless of which way they sway, after all the Kalon Tripa will be representing ALL of us.
Considering these important facts, I am quite disappointed in Lobsang Sangay la for his decision not to speak here in Boston. A good leader must show the highest level of integrity in order to win the trust and faith of the people. It is essential that we have trust and faith in the man who will represent Tibet in this crucial time in our history.
With this said, I fully believe all three candidates are patriots who have served our cause in many different ways. I respect them immensely for running in this very difficult campaign and know that they will all continue to use their talents to serve our country. Once the elections are over, regardless of who wins, that’s when the real work begins and then we will all be behind him.
Editors' Note: As always, publication of any article does not necessarily imply endorsement by the Editors.