Re: Are We Electing the Right Man?

posted Feb 17, 2011, 8:43 AM by The Tibetan Political Review
Dear Editors,

We are electing the best of ‘right’ men, I think!

Reading the article ‘Are we electing the right man?’ made me realize how desperate Lobsang Sangay detractors have become now that the final elections are around the corner.  [Original article here.]  The author’s whole perception is based on deep-rooted prejudice against the person of Lobsang Sangay. No wonder the author finds only negative qualities in the leading contender of Kalon Tripa elections. His achievement as a Harvard graduate is lampooned, as if it is a child’s game that can be performed by any ordinary Tibetan. If that is the case, then I wonder why can’t we produce more graduates from Harvard? His dissertation on exile Tibetan democracy is considered as something trivial that is not worth studying and researching on– as if democracy in exile is not a priority for all of us.

I have met many intelligent, independent, open-minded and, most important of all, idealistic (not ‘thick skulled’) Tibetans—both men and women—supporting Lobsang Sangay’s candidacy. Suffice here to give examples of two prominent exile Tibetan activists—former political prisoners Palden Gyatso and Bhagdro. Through their personal account of imprisonment and torture in Chinese jails, they have been widely successful in pricking the world leaders’ conscience regarding the fate of Tibet.

Both are not just political prisoners, but are also highly educated (as we can see from their memoirs) and deeply understand the nuances of Chinese colonial system in Tibet and its inhuman treatment of the Tibetan people, having both experienced them in their own personal lives. Indeed if Lobsang Sangay is bent on ‘selling out’ the Tibetan cause by becoming a ‘Chinese agent/Obama,’ as the author implies, we must wonder why the hell two of the most staunchest Tibetan freedom fighters support his candidacy.

Another erroneous judgment the author makes is by making a comparison of Lobsang Sangay’s scholarship with those of Tibetan luminaries like Dawa Norbu, Namkhai Norbu, Tsering Shakya and so on. Such a comparison is precisely made to manipulate people’s perception about Lobsang Sangay, after all it is fair enough to think that his scholarship has not achieved the kind of status the others did in the world of academia.

Taken at face value, this criticism might appear valid, if only we go deeper into the issue and put it into the proper context. And that proper context would be if we make a comparison (if we really want to, although it appears silly) between the scholarship of Lobsang Sangay and Tenzin Tethong or for that matter Tashi Wangdi, because they are the ones competing against each other for the Katri’s post. In other words Tsering Shakya and others are not competing for Katri elections. They are scholars and love scholarship—I’m even sticking my neck out to say that they don’t have what it takes to run a government. That’s not their forte.

As for his other criticisms, such as Lobsang Sangay’s flexible approach on Tibetan struggle, his visit to Peking, his campaign finances, I don’t think it is imperative for me to clarify them, unless I want to waste my readers’ precious time. Lobsang Sangay has convincingly responded to all of these allegations in his numerous campaign speeches and interviews—his visit to Peking even endorsed and supported by the exile Tibetan government and the private office of the Dalai Lama. If only his detractors are willing to open up their eyes!

What makes Lobsang Sangay click among the voters his leadership qualities—his charisma, intelligence, assertiveness, confidence, and his ability to reach out to people from all walks of life, except perhaps those from the capitals—Dharamsala and Washington D.C. Add to these, his decent academic scholarship, as we can see from his writings, both in mainstream newspapers and scholarly journal.

And perhaps the most important factor is that the public – especially the younger generation – wants to see a new face running the Kashag!

They are desperate for change. And Lobsang Sangay is the symbol of that change. And symbols, as we know, matter in politics!

Tenzin Nyinje
Dharamsala, India