Democracy in Exile

posted Oct 11, 2010, 5:20 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Oct 12, 2010, 8:04 PM ]
Dear Editors,

(1) Is His Holiness a hindrance to the fulfillment of democratic reform in the exile Tibetan community? This issue is not new and had been discussed in the past. The Charter stipulates that all major decisions, be it executive or legislative “shall require the assent of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” I have no doubt His Holiness understands this dilemma.

At this critical juncture, unity is paramount and His Holiness is the only person who can unite our exile community and our brethrens inside Tibet. He is synonymous with the Tibetan cause worldwide and we are very fortunate to have his leadership and wisdom for the last 6 decades. He had repeatedly expressed his wishes to abdicate his temporal duties in the future. I agree a lot of us see him leading akin to the King of Thailand. The issue then is how do we proceed forward.

 We can agree there is no telling how the next Dalai Lama is going to be. Charter of the Tibetans-in-Exile stipulates that the Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPD) has the primary responsibility. Thus the first step should be to change the composition of the ATPD.  I strongly believe that we need to stop the practice of double-voting by the monastic traditions through their ability to vote for both provincial and religious representation in the Assembly.  We should also end the special representation in ATPD by the different religious denominations.  I also believe we should end the practice of “1 to 3 members directly nominated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” We also need to discourage the anti-democratic proclamation of (ཡེ་ཤེས་དབྱིངས་བཅད་ )Ye-shey Ying-chey (not standardized) by members of ATPD as this goes against the fundamental democratic values of free speech and expression.

(2) The Kalon Tripa is referred to as the Prime Minister even though he is directly elected by the people and Article 3 of the charter proclaims "
Federal Democratic Republic". I am not sure how this came about. I guess with His Holiness as the head of the state and chief executive of the Tibetan government, the term President was probably deemed not appropriate. 

(3) Recently at the launch of a website by supporters of Tenzin N. Tethong la, Ex-Kalon Sonam Topgyal la was coded by Phayul (Sept 18, 2010):

       "Speaking of a report that appeared in Mangtso newspaper (not in publication now) in April 1995, Topgyal said the paper “wrongly” created rumours of Tethong’s involvement in embezzlement of funds after his presentation of the Tibetan exile government’s budget earlier that same year. “Tethong did not feel compelled to clarify this rumour at the time as he understood it as the work of a few who had a different agenda against him,” said Topgyal, who was then the Kalon Tripa while Tethong served as the Minister of Finance."

Mangtso newspaper was published by Amnye Machen Institute under Jamyang Norbu la, Lhasang Tsering la, Tashi Tsering la  who are all well respected with large following within our community. This is a very serious allegation unless there was a retraction of those accusations by Mangtso

For disclosure, I am a Lobsang Sangay supporter for Kalon Tripa but these are strictly my views and I have not discussed any of these with him. I will be celebrating even if Tenzin N. Tethong wins as he is my second choice.


Sonam Nyatsatsang
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.