By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 2 May 2017
The Central Tibetan Administration has started using “President” as the new official translation of the title Sikyong, the highest post in the exile Tibetan administration.
Starting on 28 April, the official home page of the Administration used the term in a report describing Sangay’s call on the Minister of Culture for the Government of India in Delhi, without explicitly publicising the change.
Secretary of the Kashag (Cabinet) Topgyal Tsering said that in order to have a uniform term for the post in English, the Kashag decided to use the term “President”. He said there are various terms in use, such as, “Political Leader”, “Prime Minister”, and “Elected Tibetan Leader”.
On being asked whether it should be approved by the exile Parliament, Topgyal said that it shouldn’t matter as the basic term in Tibetan has not changed.
The Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile refused to make a statement on the matter.
Discussions came soon on social media, with one Facebook user posting a cartoon poking fun at the new term.
Prior to September 2012, this office was known as Kalon Tripa. Unofficially it was designated “Prime Minister of Tibetans-in-exile”.
Sikyong is the head of the Kashag or Cabinet, part of the executive branch of the Central Tibetan Administration. Before the change of the title to Sikyong, Kalon Tripa was the Chairman of the Kashag. The term “President” has never been used before.
The title Sikyong dates back to the 7th Dalai Lama, and the name change ensures continuity and legitimacy of the Tibetan Government in Tibet, established during the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1642 CE.