A Perspective on Lobsang Sangay

posted Aug 8, 2010, 12:16 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Aug 12, 2010, 4:39 AM ]

Dear Editors:

While I appreciate the editorial critiquing and analyzing the 'traditional' and 'modern' approaches of the two potential Kalon Tripa candidates, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong and Lobsang Sangay, towards securing power and serving our people, I felt somehow the editors are biased against Lobsang Sangay.   I feel the members of the editorial board 'misinterpreted' or 'misunderstood' Sangay when he invoked great leaders like Songtsen Gampo, Alexander, Abraham Lincoln and others, to support his argument that 'experience' is not the key to run for the highest political position. Experience in this context, according to Lobsang Sangay, means one doesn't necessarily needs to have an experience of serving for a long time in a bureaucratic organization, in the Tibetan civil service; it no way means one doesn't need any experience concerning the Tibetan freedom struggle and the Tibetan movement as a whole.

Of course Lobsang Sangay has never served as a member of Parliament, unlike Obama and others, who were senators or lawmakers before going on to assume the highest political office, but he did serve on the Central Executive Committee  of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which ideally and principally and practically fights for Tibetan independence, and which serves as a de facto opposition party in the exile Tibetan society. And that is enough experience to assume the highest political office of the Tibetan government in exile. In other words, in our society, experience as MP (Chitue) is not a prerequisite to run for the Kalon Tripa post.

Knowledge or shes yon (pronounced and spelled yon not yun) indeed is the key; one needs to know, understand and realize the Tibetan freedom struggle as a whole, our current difficult situation, our existential struggle against the Chinese, and I think Sangay knows it quite well, not because he has a doctorate from Harvard, but because he reads and quotes the works of luminaries like Vaclav Havel, Gandhi, Mandela and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And moreover, education gives you pride, confidence and skills necessary to secure one's goals. Alas most of our Chitues don't read books, apart from newspapers like Dusbab, Bangchen and Sheja.

And I agree with the editors that a common man might think he's arrogant when he invoked all these great leaders, but that's not what he implies. What he implies and thus needs to be stressed by the editorial board, which you have failed to do so, is that by referring to these leaders Sangay is just enunciating all the qualities a leader requires to lead his people towards freedom and independence: charisma, knowledge, inspiration, values, courage and so on!

And that's what Tibetans, not just the leaders, but every Tashi, Dolma and Tenzin, every 'ordinary' Tibetan needs if we are to regain our independence: inspiration, knowledge, values, courage etc.

I agree at times due to his relatively young age, due to his 'inexperience', Lobsang Sangay does crosses his line and thus appears naive, condescending, and even arrogant, as for instance when differentiating the category of leaders and administrators, he said: a leader doesn't need the experience of a manager or administrator, such as keeping the records of pens and [files]. Lobsang Sangay must know that a manager or a higher Tibetan civil servant plays a much bigger and  more important role to play than storing books and pencils. Having said this, I think Lobsang Sangay is smart and open enough to learn from such mistakes, such show of naivety, if we care to point them out sincerely and openly.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely

Tenzin Nyinjey
New York


Editors' Note:

We thank the reader for his comments.
We welcome comments and criticism but the allegations of bias are unfounded and based only on speculation.  We have critiqued several potential candidates, including Phurbu Dorjee, Dolma Gyari, and T.N. Tethong, and plan to critique more of them.  For more on this allegation of bias, please see "A Question of 'Bias'".
We invite readers to review our website in full and decide for themselves, just as we encourage each Tibetan voter to decide for themselves whom they will support in the upcoming elections.
Additionally, Tenzin-la, if you would like to see another perspective better-represented in The Tibetan Political Review, you are invited to submit an article for publication pursuant to TPR's guidelines.  The journal is an open forum.
The editors