By Sonam Paljor, Sydney, Australia
As much as our chithue and sikyong candidates prepare for elections, all too often it seems we forget to prepare ourselves for it. Candidates assume that we know what we want. Actually, we often assume we know what we want. In preparing to question our candidates, it is important we realise that there are some issues we are NOT allowed or some we should just avoid, because they are at best silly or just unproductive.
Can you suggest such a question?
Here are my few:
Questions about the Dalai Lama
1. Do you support the Dalai Lama?
This is not a helpful question. Not only is this a closed question, it also does little to allow our candidates to articulate their broader community vision independent of the Dalai Lama.
2. Why are you single? Why are you married to a non Tibetan? Etc.
These are all personal questions which have no influence on the candidate's ability to do the job at hand. Marital status isn't a selection criteria for such top jobs around the world.
3. Where were you born? Inside or outside Tibet I.e. nyingjor or sarjor??
Again, irrelevant. Being born inside or outside Tibet does not necessarily make someone more or less qualified for this position. So long as the candidate can lead and articulate a coherent pragmatic vision which encapsulates a united Tibetan community and a common purpose, birthplace (though sentimental and popular in our community) has little relevance to the job at hand.
4. Aren't you too young or old to do the job?
Our own Dalai Lama took full temporal responsibility at the age of 15. Now at 80, he is anything but slowing down. Proof that age is not and should not be a key determinant to who is suitable for this role.
5. You have a young family. Surely you aren't applying.
That is discrimination. The size of our family is not and should not be a criteria for such positions.
6. You are not a scholar like our previous leaders - to be taken seriously by the world?
Leadership isn't an academic or intellectual pursuit. It is about inspiring and mobilizing the wider community and getting the best out of them. S/he who carries the community forward with him/her wins the day. It is about courage and energy to lead, unite and inspire, not mere intellectual banter behind lecture podiums.
7. What is the point of voting for you or any other candidate? Cho-yo-marey! China will never negotiate with you when they didn't with a person of the Dalai Lama's calibre.
This is negative and extremely insulting to our candidates and to us as a community. Unless we back our own people, we will never know or learn to walk towards a vibrant democratic society.
8. I heard you are corrupt. Why should I vote for you?
Evidence! Where is the real hard evidence to prove that? Until you find that, we should stop peddling rumors about our candidates and accord all of them the respect as deserving of any democratic candidate. Our candidates stood for election, civility and discussion, not abuse and insults.
Your turn now. Have a go! Ask a question you wish no one will ask of our candidates.