By Sandu Namkha, Germany
I am writing this piece in response to the Tibetan Political Review’s (TPR) recent editorial, “The Impact of the Resignations of Gyari & Gyaltsen.” This is a well written piece. Writings like this will, hopefully, set the Tibetans in a motion where people seriously begin to engage in the affairs of the Tibetans. Engagements could take the form of writing articles, asking questions, participating in friendly group discussions concerning the political future of Tibet and other important issues, and holding the elected leaders accountable. Therefore, this is a timely article.
The article talks about His Holiness’ recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan. I am interested in sharing my thoughts about that section of the article. I have had this concern for a while. The world knows that His Holiness is no longer the political head of Tibet. He resigned his political power because he felt that that is in the best interest of the six million Tibetans. I sincerely and fully support this farsighted vision of His Holiness.
However, I am very uncomfortable when His Holiness continues to make political statements. In any case, it is very important that one backs up his/her claim with real data especially when it relates to the opinion of a majority and minority on any issues. Like the TPR editors, I personally have not seen any reports of a survey conducted (scientific study) that supports His Holiness’ claim; his claim was that the majority of Tibetans support the Middle Way Approach (MWA).
Clearly, such unsubstantiated claims will not influence anybody, but the Tibetans. We all know how His Holiness’ speeches influence the thought process of the Tibetans. His influence literally restricts the Tibetan people, including elected leaders, from reevaluating the MWA. And this is one of the reasons that makes me very uncomfortable. (BTW, I continue to support the MWA).
I cannot in my wildest dream think that His Holiness is trying to be an obstructionist. However, there is a risk of the elected Tibetan leaders and public blaming His Holiness for not allowing them to reconsider the MWA. Therefore, it is clear that I am uncomfortable with His Holiness making political statements not because I have a personal problem with it but because it could put His Holiness in an undesirable position. I agree with the TPR editors when they said, “The TGIE should not use His Holiness as an excuse to maintain a policy that does not appear to be working and has not achieved any meaningful results in the last quarter-century.”
What is the bigger point here? The point is that we should not leave any room for anyone, specifically elected leaders to use His Holiness as an excuse on any issue. How can we achieve this goal in this particular circumstance? One good way of achieving this goal, perhaps, is to have His Holiness announce publicly that the MWA is no longer his policy. It will be helpful if this announcement can be repeated over the next three to four years.
Such an announcement will help relieve the fear of hurting His Holiness’ feelings from the Tibetans’ psyche. This feeling prevents many patriotic Tibetans from freely voicing their concerns, opinions, and/or criticisms (constructive) of the CTA policies, specifically against policies that clearly did not yield desired results, and against policies that do not have any potential to yield any meaningful results.
Therefore, such an announcement will go a long way in encouraging active participation in the Tibetan affairs from both young and old folks, alike. We are likely to see a strong surge in free, fair, and balanced debate once such fears are plucked out of the Tibetans’ psyche. Ultimately, a free, fair, and balanced debate will make it possible for us to realize that, as the editors say, “The Middle Way Approach, as a political policy, should rise or fall on its own merits.” Most importantly, we will succeed in demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt to our main opponent that the issue of Tibet is indeed an issue of the six million Tibetans and not an issue of one individual as they fondly and naively like to think.
I am confident that His Holiness will become the best spokesperson in the world if he is interested in becoming a spokesperson of the CTA. However, should he take up such a position, he should then become accountable to the elected Tibetan leaders. It means that he should abstain from making any political statements without the explicit approval from the elected leaders. Why do I say that? This will help Tibetans understand that His Holiness’ political statements are the elected leaders’ policies and that they are subject to be scrutinized and criticized, irrespective of who the messenger is.
I could not be more grateful to His Holiness for the exemplary and extraordinary leadership he provided to the Tibetan people. Irrespective of the results he obtained in the field of politics, education, and health to name a few, it is true that he gave is all. I am very thankful for that, and I am confident that many Tibetans feel the same way as I do.
However, His Holiness asked for retirement from his political leadership. Accordingly, he was amicably relieved from his political role. Therefore, keeping his own words, it is in the best interest of the six million Tibetans, including His personal interest, for him to stay away from politics. Very clearly, his farsighted vision made it possible for him to switch to full retirement mode at an appropriate time after being in a semi-retirement mode for a long time. I believe he is very deserving of a peaceful retirement. I wish him long life and good luck.