NEW YORK CITY, US, 11 September 2018
Exile Tibetan presidential and parliamentary elections are held once every five years, preceded by a preliminary or first round election held six months prior. This system is beset with an invitation to lies, regional hatred, civil war, and the eventual partition of Tibet into three nations of U-Tsangland, Khamland, and Amdoland — well before Tibet itself is even free! Uprooting this system is in the interest of all the regions of Tibet and it’s crucial we do it before it is too late.
Timing and unity
Public debate is great, but to stretch it out too much and in two rounds of elections is not smart. People are generally creatures of emotions. The longer the debate goes on, the more lies, hate, and negative regionalism get reinforced on both sides. When this happens, Tibetan unity is sitting on a ticking bomb that could go off any minute.
Mudslinging and smear campaigns will overwhelm the election process like last time. In fact, the spark of negative regionalism was lit when Lobsang Sangay called for Lithang pungdrik in 2011 Sikyong election. And in the 2016 election, the spark turned into a wildfire consuming everything it came in contact with. Once the bomb of negative regionalism went off, our cause began going down the drain because we were now obsessed with slitting each other’s throats at all costs.
Also, the elimination of certain candidates from the final round on flimsy grounds causes resentment among the voters. It only adds fuel to the fire of an US versus THEM campaign mentality. Perhaps Sikyong realized his campaign mistake, he expounds the one round election. And Monlam Tharchin should keep quiet. You don’t let go a boulder on your own feet.
The campaign cost for the first round, both official and unofficial, could go up to twenty lakh Indian rupees. Why not save this big money to raise the salary of CTA employees? Instead of empty lectures on lhaksam and semshug, concrete incentives such as a beautiful pay raise to CTA staff would be wonderful! It would create enthusiasm in both the current and would-be employees to serve longer with pride and conviction! It will ensure the best candidates to serve in CTA fulfilling our motto “come to learn and go to serve”, and that would be incredible!
It would give them a decent living with a sense of worth and security after retirement. Meeting these basic needs ensure joy and quality in what they do. In the end, the entire community benefits from it. What more can we ask from life?
The longer the campaign goes on, the more lies and counter lies will eventually drain our energy into the pit of hate and violence among ourselves. Can we afford to be divisive amongst ourselves in the name of cholkha? Especially when we expound deep love for China that reduced us to homelessness, from which there may not be a way out given China’s might.
The distance between members of the Tibetan Diaspora is shrinking with the advances in technology. The affair of what is happening in one part of the world is just at the click of a mouse on social media. Barring some elderly people, Tibetan community is a viable society that is well adapted to social media. Gone are the days when voters vote without knowing his or her candidates. People are well aware now and one round election would drive them out at the election booths to give their valuable vote once and for all. The election of Sikyong and Chithues should be held on the same date to ensure maximum participation.
If you look at the statistics of the previous two elections, 99% of the candidates shortlisted as top ten are finally elected. The ninth and tenth candidates have only a slim chance of moving up the political ladder. So for that 1%, are we going to waste our time, energy, money, and human resources?
No system is perfect
Some argue that since we don’t have a political party system or electoral-college system that filters candidates for their respective party, we must have two rounds of election to ensure the best candidates are in the final.
To negate this concern we have a number of fresh examples where even the political party nomination or electoral-college candidates have failed to stop mud-slinging or to get the best elected.
If you look at the politics of our host country in which CTA exists, a political-based nomination in which a face is declared as the Prime Ministerial candidate if his party comes to power. Still, smear-oriented campaign is on the rise. Candidates malign their opponents and the degradation of the value-based debate is a serious concern.
Another recent example is that of the election of President of the USA, in which the candidate comes from the electoral college of the respective party. After a number of rounds of election among the candidates from within the same party, the best failed to prevail and we are stuck with Trump. Issue-based debate was miserably missing and back and forth character assassination surged. This environment gave the perfect opportunity for Russia to jump in and influence the course of the race with fake IDs on the internet. Muller investigation is still on, but the wicked, crooked TRUMP remains the winner.
So two-round elections do not guarantee the best. We Tibetans must stop fearing to venture on an untraveled path, but rather evolve with the changing times and adapt to the demands of Unity.
About the author
Mila Rangzen is a US armed forces veteran serving the New York Community as an immigration translator. He can be reached at [email protected]