By Lukar Jam Atsock (Sikyong Candidate)
On The Title of "CTA"
f I am elected Sikyong, I will make serious efforts to reinstitute the title Tibetan Government in Exile. I will present a case to the Tibetan parliament arguing for the need of such a change. The title Tibetan Government in Exile was removed to appease the Chinese government, so that the latter would come to the negotiating table. But the fact of the matter is that the Chinese have rejected the Middle Way proposal, as the series of white papers attests. The idea that the Indian government would not allow us to use the title ‘Tibetan Government in Exile’ is misleading. The Indian government will not crack down on us if we use this title.
On Seeking Support from Non-Tibetans
As far as my administration is concerned, we will seek support from any non-Tibetan who’s an ardent humanist, who believes in justice. That’s the ultimate criteria. He or she doesn’t necessarily have to be a person of religious faith, a believer, including a Tibetan Buddhist. Right now, because of the dominance of the Middle-Way, those supporters who are sympathetic to Tibetan independence are being alienated. If I become Sikyong, the support from non-Tibetans shall be expanded. We will have support from those who are not only Buddhists and Middle-Way advocates, but also from those who are sympathetic to Tibetan independence.
On Sino-Tibetan Dialogue
I have to make it clear here. If I become Sikyong, there will be no Sino-Tibetan dialog on the political status of Tibet. This will end. My administration may conduct negotiations on other humanistic issues, such as the aspiration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit Tibet and China for pilgrimage; or the desire of the Tibetans in exile to meet their relatives in Tibet. But there shall be no dialogue on the POLITICAL status of Tibet. Secondly, the Chinese government does not respect our views; our views are considered illegal. It considers Tibetan Government in Exile a criminal organization. It considers Dalai Lama a terrorist. It considers the Middle-Way a ploy to split China. The only thing that we have achieved after decades of Sino-Tibetan dialogue is that the Chinese government summoned what it refers to as ‘a few Dalai-led overseas separatists’ to Beijing and ordered them to condemn ‘Tibetans involved in smashing, burning and looting.’
The present educational policy, the brainchild of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, of the CTA shall be reviewed. This educational policy has many systemic flaws. The goal is not to create independent thinking students, but ‘moral beings,’ with overwhelming focus on ‘Buddhist compassion and kindness.’ Moreover, Tibetan exiles live throughout the world, in North America, South Asia, Europe, Australasia. So a monolithic education policy is not realistic. We have to have a system that takes into account the local realities. The driving force of my education shall not be ‘others before self,’ but resistance, which means standing up for justice.
On Shugden Worshipers
I am confident I will resolve this controversy, which is threatening to tear apart the Tibetan community. To me Shugden is a small issue, but due to the mistaken policies we have made it a big issue, basically we have blown it out of proportion. Shugden is a matter of worshipping a spirit, that too a Geluka spirit. We can’t have a monolithic view of Shugden worshippers. We have to know that there are different types of Shugden practitioners: there are those Shuden practitioners, who openly collude with our enemy, the Chinese government, as revealed by Lama Tseta. Then there are those who quietly practice the deity, while also acknowledging that they believe in the Dalai Lama. We also have to take into account that there are mischievous people harming the Tibetan cause in the name of loyalty to the Dalai Lama, in the name of fighting the Shugden worshippers. We have to have a nuanced, comprehensive policy that will tackle this issue.
On the Sustenance of Tibetan Refugee Settlements
The issue of the sustenance of Tibetan refugee settlements is important. As far as I am concerned, I think the Tibetan refugee settlements are doing relatively well. Of course, we can make further improvements. But what is really important is to realize that settlement sustenance is not something that is achieved by raising money alone, that is by constructing some shopping malls in today’s context. A real sustenance of Tibetan refugee settlement is possible through developing cordial relations with the local people. The biggest problem we face in the Tibetan settlements today is the lack of economic equality; some people receive too much aid; people quip that the capable ones even have sponsors for their dogs! In the near future, the important question is not how much further aid we will receive [from our donors] but whether we can ensure an equal distribution of the aid we have already received. We cannot sustain the settlement simply by raising money; in fact if we don’t know how to use the money properly, this will endanger our sustainability.
On the Split Between the Middle Way and Rangtsen Advocates
The truth of the matter is that I am fighting the election for Tibetan independence. So, for me the restoration of Tibetan national independence is far more important than winning the Prime Minister’s post. My fighting the election is not simply about winning a post. If I become a Sikyong, I have to be honest with the people. If there are certain things that I am incapable of accomplishing, I have to be clear about it. I have to clarify it with the public. I can’t pretend otherwise. Of course we can have a dialogue on all the internal issues. But one thing that we can’t compromise upon is the goal of seeking independence. If I am not firm on Tibetan independence, there’s not much use for me to fight this election. So I will focus on restoring independence. But that doesn’t means my administration will ostracize Middle-Way advocates. As one of my slogans for this campaign attests, I am for a non-partisan government. Let me assure you: Middle-Way advocates too shall have space in my administration.
On Staffs Resigning from the Exile Tibetan Administration
We have to seriously think about the exile Tibetan administration. We might face a situation one day when not just a few, but all of the staffs leave the administration. We might even see the closure of the Central Tibetan Administration, if all Tibetan refugees in India migrate [to other countries]. Fortunately, at the moment the Central Tibetan Administration exists. Although Tibetan diaspora is important, that is the fact that we all live in different parts of the world, what is really important is that we have a history. We are a nation. So, the existence of CTA is not just a matter of seeking livelihood for the refugees. Secondly, we don’t know yet where the Chinese Communist Party is heading. The Chinese might even commit genocide in Tibet. Therefore, Tibetan establishments in India are necessary to receive Tibetans fleeing Tibet in case the Chinese commits a mass slaughter of Tibetans. So irrespective of staffs leaving CTA, I believe the existence of CTA is necessary. There are several reasons for staffs leaving CTA. The principal reason is the inability of the administration to create a future, a vision, for them.
On Tibetan Diplomats
A full review of the procedures on the appointment of Tibetan diplomats in foreign countries shall be conducted; educational trainings shall be provided to them to ensure that they become sophisticated enough to advance the political cause of Tibet in the international arena. Alliance shall be made with people of Taiwan, Hong Kong, East Turkestan, Chinese democracy activists and so on.
Other Concrete Reforms
I will see the possibility of establishing Tibetan Studies programs in prominent universities; I will ensure that major libraries around the world have good books on Tibet; full efforts shall be made to advance the education of young Tibetan refugees, especially college graduates. Towards this end, I will make efforts to convert Tibetan colleges, such as the Dalai Lama College in Bangalore, into a work-class educational institution. This is possible.
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