WÄDENSWIL, Switzerland, 7 April 2021
In 1991, in a great stride toward democracy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the Draft Constitution of the Exile Tibetans, and the Eleventh Assembly of Tibetan Peoples’ Deputies (1991-1996) drafted the Constitution, and promulgated many rules and regulations, heralding the start of steps towards a genuine democracy. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament at that time, said on many occasions that the administration had shifted from ‘rule of a person’ to ‘rule of law’, and was able to give to the public such a feeling.
Likewise, during that Eleventh term and during the Twelfth Assembly of Tibetan Peoples’ Deputies (1996-2001) there had been many major problematic issues in Tibetan society, yet the Assembly of Tibetan Peoples’ Deputies was able to contribute greatly toward resolving them, without ever crossing beyond one’s boundary. That is indispensably needed for the separation of powers and checks and balances in the democratic system.
But the thought of whether democracy is suitable for our Tibetan society has been recurrently coming to my mind. If democracy is lacking in one’s behaviour in daily life, any amount of talking would not bring about respect; this has become clear from the en-masse sacking of the three supreme judiciary members a few days ago. If the event had taken place with the earlier senior generation who had fled into exile from Tibet it would be blameless, for they lacked modern education, but the incumbent chithues (members of the Parliament) pride themselves all as having received modern education — then, why did they commit such a grave mistake? One naturally wonders if they really know the basic principles of democracy.
The parliamentary platform is for discussion of the cause of Tibet and the welfare of Tibetans seeking help, not at all for showing the size of individual arrogance and rising again from the death of regional bias. Moreover, an agenda to amend the Constitution, severing the limbs of the Tibetan Judiciary, was brought at this time, but it could not be passed. Not only do those chithues not know even slightly the principle of the separation of powers and checks and balances, they show their arrogance in thinking of themselves as knowing quite a lot.
If viewed as an indication of the health of Tibetan democracy, the sacking of the Judiciary is so grave, yet looking at how those chithues see it as a very minor thing it becomes clear how really low those chithues’ level of thinking is. It is very clear that if we leave power in their hands, it would be detrimental both for now and in future, there would not be even the slightest benefit.
With most of the present chithues, if one looks at their vocal and physical expressions, they do not have even a fragrance of democracy, and compared to an ordinary person, they have bigger anger, bigger malice, bigger arrogance, all are of the type thinking, “Who would be as great as me!” Through dominance by this bad lot in the Parliament some chithues who are understanding and well-attributed, have become unable to manifest.
A Western leader had said that democracy is rule by fools; earlier, I was doubtful of that, but now when looking at the situation of our democracy, that makes sense. Witnessing how much harm is caused by the guardians of democracy if they lack qualifications, it again reminds me that democracy is not suitable for our society.
Although not even a decade has passed since His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved all his political powers, we have now left a supreme legacy of severing an indispensable branch of our democracy. And yet not to have any regret over that and more so to still beat the drum of victory everywhere, bragging as if having achieved something, is foolish; if not, what is it? To strive at cutting the branch one is on would ultimately end in one’s fall. How would the honourable chithues represent others if they do not know even that!
From these states of ourselves it has become very clear how greatly kind His Holiness has been to our Tibetan society, not only in spiritual matters, but also politically. Still, there are not a few chithues in the Parliament who assume and act as more learned and efficient than His Holiness. By making known their behaviour, education level, capability — or rather, lack thereof — they certainly should review whether up till now they have rendered any contributive service to the Tibetan cause and the exile Tibetan society. If a person does not know even the human wholesome attribute of being grateful towards someone who has been kind to you, that person has fallen to the depth of moral contamination, so not to pin one’s hope in such a person. Therefore, I appeal to the public to identify those chithues and not to vote for them again.
In summary, the present Assembly of Tibetan Peoples’ Deputies: (1) Hinders achievement of the cause of Tibet, (2) Is where the bad persons wage fights and brag of themselves, (3) Is the source of the toxic disease of regional bias, (4) Is where the life vein of democracy is severed, and so on. It would be better not to have such an entity than to have one. Those are the reasons I say democracy is not suitable for our society.
Finally, I applaud the ten chithues who objected to the agenda of sacking the three supreme justices. They have not strayed to regional bias and arrogance, they have thought of the rule of law and strengthening of democracy.
About the author
Kalsang Namgyal Kangrang schooled at SFF Herbertpur Dehra Dun, and graduated with Shastri (BA degree equivalent) from CIHTS (Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies), Varanasi, India. He lives in Wädenswil, Switzerland, where he served as Tibetan teacher for the Tibetan classes, and Vice President of the Tibetan organisation in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He runs a take-away food truck business called Ama Momos.