Tashi Phuntsok's Answers to "10 Questions"

By Tashi Phuntsok
North American Chitue candidate
Calgary, Canada 

Answers in Response to TPR's
"10 Questions for North American Chitue Candidates"

(1)  What, in your opinion, makes you qualified to represent North American Tibetans in the Parliament-in-Exile?

In my opinion, I am qualified to represent North American Chitue in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile due to the following reasons: 

     a)  Networking skills:

I have a very good relationship with many Tibetans living throughout Canada and the USA with whom I network on a regular basis.  This will definitely help to keep me informed of the important issues faced by my constituents.  I can then bring these issues to the Chitue Lhentsog to be addressed.      

     b) Strong Communications Skills in both Tibetan and English languages: 

I am not only fluent in English but also in Tibetan.  This I feel should be one of the main criteria that are required for Chitue in order to comprehend the level of Tibetan spoken at all regular meetings held by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPIE) especially during Chitue Lhentsog.  

     c) Experience

My 16 years of service with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in various capacities has given me a wide range of understanding of how our government functions and what issues our grass roots North American Tibetans' face.  My experience includes: 

  • 3 years as General Secretary of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) Kathmandu
  • 6 years as Vice President and President of TCV Alumni Association when initially formed in Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 6 years as Executives of Tibetan Association of Alberta, Canada
    • 2 yrs as Secretary
    • 4 yrs as President

These experiences of being on both sides of the fence will definitely help me to lobby for the changes in our policy that would benefit both our government and my constituents.   

     d) Commitment to my responsibilities. 

 I am committed to my responsibilities and am willing to make the necessary personal sacrifices to honour that. In this regard, during my tenure in my various posts listed above, I have always dedicated time to attend all meetings related to the issues of Tibet and Tibetans.  

A few examples of meetings attended are:

  • As General Secretary of TYC Kathmandu, I attended two TYC General Body Meetings:
    • held in Orissa Tibetan Settlement
    • held in Central School for Tibetan, Mussoorie
  • As Secretary and President of the Tibetan Association of Alberta (TAA), Canada,  I :
    • attended Tibetan Special Meeting under Article 59 of the Charter in Dharamsala, India organized by both Kashag and Parliament in Exile in 2008
    • attended the North American Tibetan Association Conferences in Minnesota in 2002 and in Toronto 2009 organized by the Office of Tibet New York.
    • represented TAA by meeting with the Immigration Minister of Canada in Ottawa (September 2009) to discuss issues related to the re-settlement of Tibetan Refugees from India.
    • attended the First General Body meeting held in Bylakuppee, India in 2010 organized by TPIE

So I will continue my devotion for Tibet by attending Chitue Lhentsog in Dharamsala and present issues from my constituents that need to be addressed in the TPIE 

     e) Innovative and willing to explore new ideas  

I always believe in challenges of finding new ways to address old problems which exist in every organization and I am not afraid to push for the changes that I think will have a long term benefit.  During my term as President of Tibetan Association of Alberta, we revised our by-law which had not been amended since 1977. We also brought changes to TAA's financial management, conflict of interest resolutions and election procedures.  These changes not only enhanced the protection of our Association but also helped to improve the process of member participation, especially during the election of new officers.   

(2)  What would you do as Chitue to best represent the interests of Tibetans in North America?

As Chitue, I would:

  • Facilitate the preservation of Tibetan language and culture in the communities by encouraging the development of more community-based programs.
  • Raise the issue of making a uniform Tibetan Language Text book in Uchen from Grade 2 onwards in collaboration with the Department of Education, to be used by all the Tibetan Associations for their Saturday or Sunday classes.
  • Launch “Give-back” initiatives which would encourage Tibetans to give-back to their settlement or schools.  This would create and continue the bond that is required for our culture to remain alive and vibrant, both in North America and back home.
  • Encourage mentorship programs both in Tibetan Schools and communities in North America so that it would uplift our younger generations to maintain their feeling of Tibetanness and its responsibilities.
  • Show recognition of the achievements by our younger generation during community events to encourage their participation.

(3)      What do you see are the short term (1-5 years) priorities of the Parliament-in-Exile and what would you do as Chitue to deal with those priorities? 

    Presently, Tibetan Parliament in Exile meets twice a year in Dharamsala for about ten days each.  Much of the time is spent discussing the report of the Kashag. TPIE needs to spend more time discussing the future plan and policy draft. The short term priorities of a Chitue should be; 

  • Encourage Green Book contributions. This would help promote self sufficiency in the Tibetan Government.
  • Explore pragmatic options of Green Book payments like online banking.
  • Enable Tibetans in North America to receive their new Green Books or have its application processed directly from the Office of Tibet New York rather than being sent to the Department of Finance, Dharamsala, as it is done currently. This would eliminate unnecessary delay in receiving a new Green Book.
  • More transparency of Green Book fund usage to our people.
  • Increase employment incentives for Tibetan Government employees in order to retain and recruit qualified staff.

(4)  What do you see are the long term (5-10+ years) priorities of the Parliament-in-Exile and what would you do as Chitue to deal with those priorities?  

  • To strengthen unity and achieve resolution of the Tibet issue, a Chitue need to promote dialogue in Tibetan communities so that we have an informed consensus. 
  • If the ongoing Sino-Tibet dialogue does not come out with a tangible result, our brothers and sisters in India, Nepal and Bhutan may face even bigger problems after 20 + years.  In this, CTA need to seek help from western countries for relocating more Tibetans from these countries to the west as has been done before in USA. This would help our Tibetans remain united for our cause and preserve our identity and culture through various Tibetan Associations already existing in the West. 

(5)     What do you see are the greatest issues or problems currently facing the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and what recommendations would you make to deal with those issues? 

Some of the current difficulties TGiE is facing besides deadlock dialogue with China are youth unemployment, a large migration of the younger generation from settlements and many settlers not sowing their fields, etc. I don't have any recommendations to deal with these issues at the moment but I look forward to finding solutions to these problems if I am elected.  

However I think negotiating with the Chinese Government is the first and foremost issue currently facing the Tibetan Government. We need to use all necessary resources in the Parliament for the success of this initiative. 

(6)  What changes, if any, would you recommend concerning the Parliament-in-Exile?  Examples could be in the term of office for Chitues or the current regional make-up of the Chitue representatives? 

The way the current regional make-up of the Chitue representatives is done, it limits the individual Chitue's responsibility to its constituents. At least half of the seat allocation should be based on population count and geographical location rather than ancestral regions and sects. Ask any young Tibetan born in North America and half of them would not know what "Cholka" or "Choelug" they are, but they still have the strongest unbiased conviction in the struggle of the unified Tibet.  

(7) What amendments, if any, in the Charter for Tibetan Exiles would you recommend?  

There is a provision in the Charter that Settlement officers be elected by the local people. So far only a few settlements have opted for this and some have not been successful. They would rather have officers be sent by CTA because they could not find suitable settlement officers themselves. Therefore this provision needs to be amended that qualified and experienced Settlement Officers are deputed from CTA, Dharamsala 

(8)               How do you think His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s retirement from politics would affect the Tibetan struggle and what suggestions would you make to the Exile Government for handling the issue of His Holiness’ retirement from politics? 

No doubt His Holiness' retirement from politics will affect our struggle, I hope a good group of leaders in our parliament dedicated to furthering His Holiness’ vision will help to maintain the momentum of our struggle.  However, it is critical that the Tibetan cause be settled within the lifetime of His Holiness. I feel the TGiE should request that His Holiness continues to remain as both spiritual and temporal leader of the 6 million Tibetans.  At the same time, we must request His Holiness to reduce his public appearance and tour schedule to maintain his good health.  

In the meantime, to strengthen our democratic foundation, we need to emphasize educating our masses about our rights and responsibilities as Tibetans in their participation of our democracy.  

(9)   What are your views towards the Middle Way Policy (Ume Lam) and rangzen for Tibet?  Do you support either one or something else and why? 

Rangzen surely is historically our right, however, at the moment; there is extreme danger of losing our identity and culture in Tibet. Therefore, due to the urgency of the present situation in Tibet, I believe the Middle Way Policy is the right choice for us at this time.  

(10)           Is there anything else you would like to tell voters, either about yourself or the issues, on why they should vote for you as a North American Chitue? 

If I am elected, I will do my best to:

  • keep in touch with my constituents regularly
  • listen to any concern my constituents may have and will make every effort to address their concerns. 
  • help in whatever way I can to promote our culture, family and Buddhist values among our youths.