By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 4 June 2021
Sikyong Penpa Tsering met with the members of the Tibetan press in the afternoon today to reiterate his policy priorities, particularly on the vexed issue of dealing with China.
Tsering said that he has had three virtual audiences with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. After the oath-taking on 27 May, he had two more meetings on the 2nd and 3rd June respectively, he said.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his wish to visit China and Tibet. He has this wish for a long time. He may not be able to make too many long-distance travels, but could make domestic travels in India once the pandemic subsides,” Tsering said.
Talks to achieve autonomy through the ‘Middle-way’ policy will be his top priority. “We will explore all possible means to find a lasting solution to the Tibetan issue. But in the meantime, we will expose all the wrong policies that’s troubling the people and the environment in Tibet,” Tsering said.
The other important task on his hand is the unity and harmony within the exile Tibetan community. Since the 2016 election, there has been a division on who’s following which politician. Those sentiments came out strongly in the last election, and the effects are still being felt even after the election and the oath-taking of the new Sikyong.
“In a democratic society, differences are bound to happen, but what is important to understand is that we have a common adversary that we need to struggle together. Unless we unite, we will not be able to face the challenges.”
In the close to two-hour interaction to discuss ways to forge better understanding and working conditions, Tsering said that he respects the press as the fourth estate, and will welcome any constructive criticism.
“I will welcome any constructive criticism from the press, and the press doesn’t have to fear of any repercussions. The press can be assured of its freedom being guarded.”
On his part, he stressed that he will be accountable and all his works will be transparent.
He also said that his administration will be accessible for questions and information, with the exception of the confidential matters related to the Sino-Tibetan dialogue.
He said he is open to proposing an RTI (Right to Information) in the parliament, if the members of the press feel there’s a need for such an Act.
It is his eighth day since coming into power. He has held meetings daily including with the Chief Justice and the other two Justice Commissioners, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Chief Auditor General, all the Secretaries of the Central Tibetan Administration.
Earlier today he has met with the President of the Tibetan Youth Congress and the other Executive members.
Penpa Tsering is hoping to have his Cabinet ministers soon, but this is subject to approval by the parliament after the new members of the 17th parliament takes oath and holds a session.
However, the ten members representing Kham province, ten representing the religious sects and one from U-Tsang are said to be planning to refuse taking oath in protest against the Chief Justice and other two Justice Commissioners resuming their duties after a two month hiatus following their dismissal by the parliament.
The Justice Commissioners objected to the parliament’s decision, saying they were not guilty of any wrongdoing.
Without the parliament holding a session Tsering will not be able to propose the names of his Cabinet, as well as seek approval of funds for the projects he has planned, such as fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.