A Lesson From Our History

posted Oct 30, 2010, 8:01 AM by The Tibetan Political Review

Dear Editors,

It is exciting to see the energy of the supporters of the different KT candidates.  However, it is more frightening to note the direction of some of the discussions.  There are wild accusations launched at candidates and demonization of their supporters. Winning at all cost will be a pyrrhic victory.  Rather than adding fuel to the fire by criticizing some of the recent pieces, I would like to remind us of one case of our own history.

After the death of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, two very promising leaders appeared at that time - Kunphela and Lungshar.  Kunphela headed the Treasury department and had the support of the military regiment, Drog Drag Makhar, which he had helped to establish during the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s reign.  This regiment was made up of the sons of Tibetan elites.  Lungshar, in contrast, was a finance minister and had been a close advisor to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.  After the death of the Dalai Lama, Lungshar was able to remove Kunphela first by causing the Drog Drag regiment to disband, and then by blaming his rival for the Dalai Lama’s death, a charge which led to his arrest and exile.

Subsequently, Lungshar was himself accused of conspiracy to overthrow the Tibetan government and was removed by the Tsongdu.  During the reign of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama he had established an organization known as Kechog Kuntun or “Happy Union” to bring change to the government.  I understand an official had a score to settle with Lungshar.  He accused Lungshar of planning to overthrow the government. Lungshar was arrested and after an investigation was found to be guilty.

Imagine if both Lungshar and Kunphela (along with their supporters) had a friendly competition without losing sight of their common goal. Imagine if our system allowed both (and others) to compete for the benefit of Tibet.

I do believe discussions on character are a fair game but I hope it would be done less in a mob like manner or with innuendos.  In the end, we should not hope to find a superman (or woman).  As we elect our leaders, we should think REALLY hard how we can put in place the appropriate checks/balance (because history has shown that power can corrupt even great people) and also give our leaders the resources to succeed (as common sense tells us that a gun without ammunition is near useless).

I hope we do not make the same mistakes again.  I hope readers will reread your editorial, Personality v. Policy.  I hope the candidates will come out with more detailed policies and action plan.  I hope our debates will be more focused on policies and our political infrastructure.


Tsewang Namgyal
New York, U.S.A.