Sikyong Tibet: The dreams of a nation

Once again we Tibetans are busy discussing and campaigning for our next democratically-elected choice of Sikyong, in 2021.The last nine-plus years of our fledgling democracy have luckily gone well overall, and passed in the blink of an eye. However the situation is getting worse for our movement. His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama will be 90 years old in the next five years, and we face the years ahead with strength and also trepidation. These factors make the Tibetan general election in exile even more intense, important, and anxiety-ridden for all Tibetans involved in our freedom struggle.

Can we really afford this infighting, selfishness, lack of dignity, and lethargy in our everyday business and work? Is it not true that, like the whole world at this difficult time, we are in fact all in this together — and should behave accordingly?

Therefore, taking all these points into consideration, I for one believe that Mr Kelsang Dorjee (Kaydor) Aukatsang is the best candidate standing for election, and the best suited for the coveted post of Sikyong of Tibet. His former service in the posts of Representative of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama to North America, as well as Advisor to Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay over almost a decade now, have given him the fitness and experience needed to take on such a heavy responsibility for a nation under siege.

He completed his earlier studies at top colleges like Delhi’s St Stephen, and the Fletcher School, Tufts University in the US. In some echelons people are elevated and judged by the universities they attended, often the first gate passed to leadership. Just as Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay had impressive credentials from Harvard, Mr Aukatsang has the Fletcher School and St Stephen as a sound educational foundation.

In his key leadership role in the Social and Resource Development Fund (SARD), the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) funding status was raised four times, both in CTA (US$2.5 to US$12 million ) and in SARD (US$2.9 to US$12.5 million). Plus under his direction three highly successful Five-Fifty forums were held in Dharamshala. Such platforms serve to inspire the Tibetan leaders (both budding and seasoned) to new heights of imagination, potential manifestations — and possibilities.

With his team he has raised an investment pledge of US$2.5 million from the Tibetan diaspora for Gangjong Development Finance, which ultimately may turn into a medium-sized bank for Tibetans in the near future. Likewise, he was instrumental in upgrading the Tibet.net news portal, DIIR studio, CTA’s IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, network, and hardware. He also co-founded Tibet Corps. Through Tibet Corps many Tibetans volunteering in different fields of expertise have been able to contribute to CTA, instilling a stronger sense of homecoming. E-governance and digitization of CTA was also an extremely important innovation, including chatrel (Green Book) payment. This task actually should have been started 10 years earlier at least, but as the saying goes, “Better late than never”!

Recent publication of the Baseline Study of the Tibetan Diaspora Community Outside South Asia has proved the long-feared truth of a drastic demographic shift in Tibetan exiles. The population total of the Tibetan diaspora outside South Asia is 86,649. This number will rise in the near future. Such trends demand complete ‘reconfiguration and restructuring’ of CTA’s governance. All these matters are succinctly defined in Mr Aukatsang’s campaign speeches. He stands alone with strong vision and plans to lead Tibetans into the future. His campaign launch was passionate, inspiring, and very professional. This man is thoroughly prepared. and his qualifications and experience shine.

As the Representative of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama in North America, he has performed exceptionally well. He was able to arrange two historic meetings of His Holiness with President Barack Obama. He testified before the United States Congress about the dismal human rights situation inside Tibet, and on the Middle-Way Policy. He has maintained close contact with the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet. With Reuters he was able to publish a major investigative report on how China is backing all the Shugden organizations globally, to malign His Holiness. This huge exposé received excellent coverage by many global media outlets. “The group disbanded and the smear campaign fizzled out shortly after the Reuters exposé.”[1] This is rightly regarded as one of the milestones during Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay’s tenure.

The shifting of Office of Tibet from New York to Washington DC was another success story. He also organized a high-level meeting on Tibet strategy. “The two-day meeting was attended by former senior US Government officials, Congressional staff members, experts from the US and Canada, and Tibetan representatives.”[2]

Mr Aukatsang has clearly described the strategic map of how governance under his leadership would be. He has shown his supporters, in a clear and concise way, how he will lead, and from where to where he would lead, despite the restrictions of COVID-19. His established connections in both CTA and international relations have already had an impact in upscaling the Tibetan freedom movement.

Echoing the late Martin Luther King in his famous speech, ‘I have a dream’, let’s all heed the clarion call from the dreams of our fathers and forefathers: one nation, one people, one struggle, one leader and one government.

“I dream of reawakening the spirit and dedication of patriots such as my late father and those of his generation who gave their blood and sweat to the Tibetan freedom struggle. I dream of a Tibetan movement where the motivation is pure and the purpose clear; where we are united as Tibetans and tribal affiliations are secondary; where we awaken from apathy into a heightened passionate state; where we give more and take less; where we propel others up and not knock people down; where we put the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into practice; and where we harness the collective energy and resources to regain our freedom, rights and dignity.”
— Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang[3]

Footnotes:

  1. Kaydor4Sikyong.org/my-journey – Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA to North America (under this topic, point #6)
  2. Kaydor4Sikyong.org/my-journey – Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA to North America (under this topic, point #14 or second last)
  3. Kaydor4Sikyong.org – under “A Gangchenpa’s Dreams” topic.

Tenzin Gesar

NEW DELHI, India, 23 October 2020

Tenzin Gesar blogs at Gesar Times
Copyright © 2020 Tenzin Gesar

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily that of Tibet Sun