CANBERRA, Australia, 19 December 2020
Normally I prefer doing my work quietly rather than speak in public. However, recently I not only participated in a virtual panel discussion but also had to write this article. The reason for this is because if we go wrong this time, it will not only be a very costly mistake, but will also result in the loss of many opportunities that will be difficult to rectify.
As such, as the date of preliminary voting for Sikyong approaches, there is a natural apprehension and fear in me. I am concerned whether Tibetans would be able to choose the most deserving candidate for Sikyong. At a time when His Holiness the Dalai Lama has reached an advanced age and the situation in Tibet is worsening day by day, we cannot afford to waste time experimenting with democracy. If the issue of Tibet is not resolved while His Holiness the Dalai Lama is alive, it will most probably die out. This fact is clearly visible without having to justify with reasoning.
We have wasted the last ten years fooling ourselves or being fooled with petty issues, and thereby neglecting the main issue — the cause of Tibet. If we are adhering to the Middle-Way Approach policy, is there any other way besides engaging in Sino-Tibetan dialogue and negotiation? The current exile administration has failed to achieve any progress in this important aspect. Under the big label of secrecy, everything has been swept under the rug, thereby preventing public discussion on the matter.
Similarly, it seems that even the Education Policy appears to have lost all its core meaning, and is there on paper in name only. Likewise, if one scrutinizes the financial state of the exile Tibetan administration, it too appears to be not on sound footing after having wasted resources on projects which look good in appearance but are empty in substance. More importantly, even the rule of law which has been enforced since the promulgation of the exile Tibetan Charter has been overturned to supremacy of individual will. As such, the evil of nepotism to favour one’s friends over qualification is rampant everywhere.
In His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we have an outstanding leader, difficult to find anywhere else in the world. But unfortunately, from the administrative head down to the public, everyone is currently infected with the poisons of regionalism and sectarianism undermining our unity. If we are to rectify these problems, we need an administrative head who has fuller understanding of the Tibetan issues, who is honest and sincere, and who would fully respect and follow the rule of law. The candidate who has these qualities is Kungo Ngodup Dongchung and no one else.
It is a matter of joy that there are many candidates standing for Sikyong election this time. However, except for one, all others are standing as independent candidates. Kungo Ngodup Dongchung is the only one who has been chosen and requested to be a Sikyong candidate by many responsible and conscientious people, which makes him completely distinct from other candidates. In the past we have witnessed many who bragged of their capabilities which now seem disgusting.
However, what is encouraging, and a source of renewed hope, is that the supporters of Kungo Ngodup Dongchung are not only educated and responsible people, but they include substantial numbers of former and present officials of the exile Tibetan administration. The way they lend their support to him is highly ethical — not criticizing and abusing others, but offering principled reasoning. This reflects the principled thinking and conduct of the candidate and his supporters, which makes one feel that this candidate surely can bring about a positive change to the issue of Tibet.
In the case of other Sikyong candidates, some woo electorates to get sympathy votes, some brag they can resolve the issue of Tibet in a few years, some promise to bring amendment to the “Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People”, some use empty slogans to secure votes, and one candidate is in the election fray just for fun. Most of these candidates are likely to change their stands according to the circumstance and need of the time. However, Kungo Ngodup Dongchung agreed to be a Sikyong candidate due to the repeated and fervent requests made by many concerned people in our community as explained above. Kungo Ngodup Dongchung is a straightforward speaker and is open and honest in his conduct. His integrity is reflected in his responses to media interviews. In these interviews, he never brags about his abilities and accomplishments.
In short, this time we must reject those who are after the post with the objective of “victory for oneself and defeat of others”, but instead offer the opportunity to Kungo Ngodup, who is endowed with all the necessary qualities of being a Tibetan and whose sole aim is to serve with sincerity and total dedication. If we do this, we won’t regret later, but instead will bring peace and calm in our community. Otherwise, as in the past ten years, we are bound to waste our time and achieve nothing concrete. If one is genuinely interested, it is not difficult to know each candidate’s background, past works, everyday conduct, and lifestyle.
However, it is futile to reason with those with strong partisan and factional mindsets. Instead doing so makes them worse. Although many additional reasons can be given here, I think this much is sufficient for those who can understand and see reason. Due to the reasons given above and understanding the urgency of the time, we are requesting Kasur Ngodup Dongchung to be a Sikyong candidate. There is absolutely no partisan or factional intention involved in this. In fact, it is madness to engage in partisan activities at such a critical juncture.
About the author
Kalsang Tsering is a former Joint Secretary of the Central Tibetan Administration. He moved to Australia early this year and lives in Canberra, Australia.