By Ngawang Choechen
The Tibetan community in North America is proud of having five enthusiastic candidates for the two august seats at the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (Bhoe Mimang Chitue Lhenkhang). We should admire for their willingness and readiness to serve the Tibetan community. I have the privilege of personally knowing the candidates. All of them have their record of tremendous contributions towards our community. Unfortunately, we can elect only two candidates from North America this time. I had opined the need of five Chitue seats for North America when I was President of Regional TYC chapter in New York/New Jersey in 2001. Subsequently, the current Chitue Mr.Tenzin Chonden la made an earnest effort to approve three seats for North America but he was able to content with only two seats. It is now very challenging to many voters like me to choose the best two candidates.
As Gauntam Buddha had said that we should not follow his teachings merely with blind faith but only after testing and trying it, as a gold smith determines the purity of gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it. We are satisfied that the Tibetan community in North America did everything possible to find out the best candidates. Five well organized debates were held, numerous advertisements and comments were posted in print as well as websites and other media forums. Several radio interviews were held. Numerous public meetings and discussion sessions were organized by supporters. Group meetings at restaurants, coffee houses and tea shops were held. Lengthy discussions and arguments were occurred over the phones especially during the weekends and evenings among friends, relatives and circles of influence concerning electing two most suitable persons. These are very healthy democratic practices and Beijing must be closely watching our matured democratic practices. The communist Chinese regime must be wondering on hearing the retirement plan of HH the Dalai Lama and entrusting his mission to a potential people's elected Kalon Tripa to continue his struggle.
Now, only a couple of days are left for further discussions about the candidates as the final voting day is at our door steps. Everybody must have made an informed decision to vote for his or choice of candidates by now.
Several electors have openly expressed their support for a particular candidate or candidates. More informed voters should come out open now and reveal their choices giving their best reasons to inform the votes about factual merits or demerits and garner support for their candidates instead of acting behind curtain. I have also made my decision to vote for my choice of candidates. I have done my part of research and taken my decision. I strongly feel that voters should take their decisions impartially based on merits and not on regional or religious (Cholkha or Choeluk) considerations. Unlike in India or Nepal or Bhutan, two Chitues from North America will represent all the Tibetans from three provinces of Tibet in North America.
I mentioned in an article in this website (Will they a good team?) that it would be nice if we elect one candidate from the United States and one candidate from Canada. As such, although I have due respect for all the five candidates and thank them for their decision to serve our community, since we elect only two candidates, I have decided to support and vote for Mr. Tashi Namgyal la from United States and Mr. Tashi Phuntsok la from Canada. I have taken my decision based on four criteria-education, experience, program and personality. Let me explain them briefly as follows.
Education-Both of them have received excellent and well balanced education- modern as well as traditional education in Tibetan refugee schools in India. The curriculum in the Tibetan refugee schools, India consist of modern subjects like Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, etc. and traditional Tibetan subjects such as Tibetan language, literature, history, religion, culture and moral values. I believe that command in languages are feathers on the hat for a people's representative and these two gentlemen have command over several languages such as English, Hindi, Nepal and Tibetan.
Experience-Both of them have served the Central Tibetan Aministration in various capacities in Dharamsala, India and Nepal for a long period of time where the majority of the Tibetan refugees live. They have also served Tibetan Youth Congress, the most reputed Tibetan NGO in exile. Tashi Namgyal la has served as the General Secretary at the Central Executive Committee of Tibetan Youth Congress in Dharamsala, India and Tashi Phuntsok la as General Secretary of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress in Kathmandu, Nepal. After their immigration to North America, both of them have served as the Presidents of their respective Tibetan associations. Both of them have visited Tibet and saw the actual situation on the ground and sufferings of our brethren in Tibet with their own eyes. In view of these, they know the policy of the local government of Chinese occupied Tibet, the government and people of India, Nepal, USA and Canada. Since they worked in Dharamsala, they know the complexity of the style of functioning of the Tibetan government in exile at Gangchen Kyishong and Chitue Lhenkhang.
Program or manifesto-I pay special attention to the candidate's program or manifesto and I have emphasized the same for Kalon Tripa candidates also in this reputed forum in a lengthy article titled, Evaluate the Manifesto of Candidates. I have a feeling that some debates did not dwell much on the future program of the candidates. I agree that all the Chitues should focus on our major issues including-Umay Lam or Rangze; Dialogue with the Chinese government; His Holiness's retirement plan; etc. But two of our candidates are representing North America. As such, they should also have some concrete programs for the people of their constituency. Tibetans in North America have also certain problems which the two Chitues can address if they make an earnest effort. In this regard, the two of my choice of candidates have concrete programs. Let me give one example. Preservation and promotion of Tibetan language, culture, religion and moral values among our kids are one of the major concerns of the Tibetans in North America. Mr. Tashi Phuntsok la has a concrete program in order to address this problem. He plans to approach the Department of Education, Tibetan Government in Exile, Dharamsala and TCV to explore the possibility of starting a private or charter school in North America. Similarly Tanam la has his programs. The two Chitue candidates have explained their programs in detail in the answers to ten questions posed by Tibetan Political Review. The readers can visit the website of TPR and also their respective websites. I am not going to repeat them here in this piece.
Personality-Both of these promising candidates lost their parents at a young age and suffered a lot as numerous Tibetan refugee children like myself. But both of them have succeeded in their academic as well as personal lives with their firm determination, hard work and dedication. They possess numerous qualities such as pleasing personality, high level of understanding, open to suggestions or criticisms, clear expressions, etc. They are bold and face the tough challenges in Chitue debates and will leave no stones unturned to prevent the recurrences of the recent unpleasant episode in our parliament. They are not members of regional groups and as such they will work for the genuine unity of the Tibetan people and our parliament members. My only appeal for them, if elected are that they should propose five Chitues for North America and also limit the term of Kalon Tripa and Chitue terms to four years from the next term. Finally I appeal all the voters to cast your votes for your right Chitues on March 20, 2011. Tashi Delek!