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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Election 2011: If You Desire Change in Tibetan Politics, Look to the Parliament, not the Kalon Tripa

August 12, 2010

By Bhuchung K. Tsering
The Tibetan Political Review
August 8, 2010

During the 1992 presidential campaign here in the
United States a slogan that became the symbol of
Bill Clinton’s success against then President
George Bush senior was, "It’s the economy,
stupid." This was basically to point to the
reality that whatever President Bush’ positive
marks in foreign affairs, ultimately it was the
state of American economy that needed to be discussed and addressed.

Now, here is a thought. The topic around the
"water coolers" in the Tibetan community in exile
currently is the Kalon Tripa election.

On the positive side this has brought increased
awareness among the people about the Kalon Tripa.
Irrespective of one’s knowledge, it has become a
status symbol of sort to have an opinion on who should be the next Kalon Tripa.

On the negative side, there is an unrealistic
expectation from this position with people
virtually looking at this as the second coming of
the Lord. On the issue of dialogue with the
Chinese leadership, people who support differing
political future for Tibet are placing their hope
on the next Kalon Tripa to take up the cudgel on their behalf.

Given the current structure and system of the
Tibetan Administration I would like to say that
it is a misplaced hope if people are looking to
the next Kalon Tripa to change the political
position.   Just as the Democrats pointed to the
economy being the real issue during the above
mentioned 1992 presidential campaign,  the truth
is that if the Tibetans want a change in the
political path, it is the Tibetan Parliament that
they have to look to, not the Kalon Tripa.  To
improvize from the American slogan, in the
Tibetan case, It’s the Parliament, stupid!

For evidence of the Parliament being the one that
can do this, we could look at the development in
2004. In March 2004, the Tibetan Parliament, at
the initiative of some parliamentarians, passed a
private member’s resolution to review the Middle
Way Approach if there was no positive Chinese
response by March 2005. However, in September of
the same year,  another group of parliamentarians
introduced a resolution, that voided the March
2004 resolution. Although the March 2004 did not
have the time to alter the course of the Tibetan
struggle, it showed that the Parliament, if
enough members concurred, could initiate such a process.

Also, if people had been paying attention to the
statements by the present Kalon Tripa, Prof.
Samdhong Rinpoche, then the Kashag has been
clearly looking to the Parliament is projected as
the one that has been endorsing the present political approach.

With this being the case, it is a bit surprising
that there is less "hungama" to use an Indian
term, over the parliamentary elections than about
the Kalon Tripa. Even though both the elections
are around the same time, the politically savvy
younger Tibetans have not shown any obvious
interest in the parliament. There is no separate
website for possible members of the Tibetan
parliament, as there is on the Kalon Tripa. There
is no mock elections or debates being organized
concerning the parliament as there has been about
the Kalon Tripa.  On the issue of debate, while
it may be impractical to organize such events in
the Indian subcontinent where the constituencies
are not geographical, they can certainly be held
in North America or Europe from where there will
be three parliamentarians. But nothing like that seems to be in the offing.

To me, both the elections need equal attention
for different reasons. But if you desire a change
in Tibetan politics, look to the Parliament, I
say, not to the Kalon Tripa.  It ain’t going to happen this way.
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