DELHI, India, 25 March 2021
The promise of a new dawn in the distance seems both credible and hopeful, if one looks to the past achievements of Panpa Tsering la and applies them to a vision of the future. One does not need to read long commentaries and editorials to assess Penpa la’s role and accomplishments spanning 30 years of yeoman service in the CTA. More than three decades of his remarkable public service experience, coupled with his open advocacy of Umey Lam envisioned by His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama, is proof of his unquestionable diligence, integrity, and loyalty. The forward-looking policies and visions outlined in his campaign manifesto are pragmatic and comprehensive.
Unfortunately, Penpa la narrowly lost to Lobsang Sangay in the 2016 Sikyong election. As we move forward as a community, at this time, I am standing behind Penpa la and wish to see him taking on the mantle of Sikyong. He is the only leader that truly does represent all Tibetans. Additionally, not only does he represent all Tibetans, but his actions are always driven by his sincere desire to do what is best for all Tibetans. More and more Tibetans are awakening to this fact.
Penpa la’s growing popularity seems to have a sweeping impact on China as well, as is evident from the fact that the government of Nepal, prodded by PRC, had to turn away someone with the same name from Kathmandu international airport, mistaking him for Penpa la. This clearly speaks of his international stature. Even China shudders to hear the name of Penpa Tsering.
The recent publication of a baseless attack article on Penpa Tsering la one day prior to the Preliminary Voting seems nothing but a poorly-hatched conspiracy. His old adversaries seem to love manufacturing fake stories and creating paranoia. This is irresponsible and disgusting, to say the least, and does nothing to unify the Tibetan community. Such provocative and misleading information is also dangerous. The present unsavoury developments in Tibetan politics and the inflammatory posts on social media targeting one another can only hurt every one of us. Nothing of this sort helps our political cause. We suspect that the CCP PR machinery and its paid agents are working in overdrive to infiltrate the Tibetan Election 2021. If we do not stand united and select an experienced and wise candidate like Penpa Tsering la, we Tibetans will eventually fall into their traps and become the victims of PRC propaganda.
Honestly, we can’t help when there is blatant intellectual dishonesty in a lot of otherwise learned and educated people. Unwarranted criticisms and vile accusations against Penpa la are nothing but a clear exhibition of those with personal vendettas. This is, indeed, pitiful, and it is harmful to the future of the CTA.
A leader like Penpa Tsering la is the need of the hour, and his thumping victory in the preliminary round shows that the Tibetan people see this. We are at a juncture in our history where frittering away even a second of time is simply unfathomable. Unfortunately, the under-achievement of the outgoing Lobsang-Sangay-led government has done that. Negotiations between Beijing and the envoys of Dalai Lama at Dharamshala have been stalled since 2010. The failure to make any progress on that front is a major fiasco of the current government. That, and allowing venomous comments concerning the Dalai Lama with no response from the government, tells one that a change of CTA leadership is needed. I assure you, Penpa Tsering la is one of the few rare leaders who dare to take up the cudgels against those snakes in our community trying to defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
One can see the character of a great leader vividly reflected in Penpa la. When he faced removal from the post of North America Representative of the Dalai Lama in Washington DC, abiding with and upholding the democratic constitution, he gracefully transferred his power. The long legal battle that he was forced to fight, and eventually won triumphantly, is a testimony of his truth, perseverance, and courage. Of course, the allegations levelled against him turned out to be false and defamatory. Throughout the duration of his long trial before the highest Tibetan tribunal, not once did he lose his composure and dignity, and the people’s love and respect for him only grew the greater.
Penpa Tsering la can address one of the most pressing issues among the Tibetan community, and that is the exponential growth of inequity. At a time when the lack of access to key institutions and rampant corruption has become the norm, dissenting voices are suppressed. Penpa la has rightly come up with policies and programmes that are of the people, by the people and, in essence, for us and everyone else. His plan to set in motion reforms which are essentially centered around the public, transparent, and accountable reflects his vision for equity.
Taking cognizance of the grave situation inside Tibet, a mammoth task lies ahead of us. “Moving Forward” is a policy of bringing all three Cholkhas under one umbrella and, together as one, to surge ahead and accomplish the long-cherished dreams of the six million Tibetans. Penpa Tsering la calls for the participation of all people in policy-making as far as practicable. He sees the people’s visions and aspirations as the driving force behind any nation-building task, hence the importance of his Co-Effort policy. Penpa Tsering la’s campaign manifesto encapsulates all of this. His vision is realistic, achievable, and most importantly, the call of the time.
In this election, Tibetans face a stark choice. At stake is the very nature of Tibetan democracy. One should rightly fear the election of a Sikyong candidate who would lead us to fractious and personalized rule, one who would scorn truth and the rule of law. Fortunately, there is a candidate, a seasoned leader, who seeks to unite all three Cholkas under one umbrella in truth and the rule of law. Penpa la is the candidate for Sikyong who will lead the six million Tibetans forward.
About the author
Tenzin Norbu taught at TCV School Leh, Ladakh, for almost five years, and then became a lecturer at Lamdon Sr Secondary School, also in Leh, Ladakh, for nine years. He currently lives in Delhi.