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BY YIQIAN ZHANG
The Dalai Lama is retiring — not from his spiritual role — but from his political service in the Tibetan government in exile — saying the Tibetan people need a freely elected leader. The announcement comes on the 52nd anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.
“The Tibetan government in exile now is all set to change its constitution and elect a prime minister who will take over the political offices held by the Dalai Lama at the moment.” News X
By electing a successor, the Dalai Lama is departing from the historic practice of reincarnation. Traditionally, it is only after the death of the current Dalai Lama, that the Tibetan government and High Lamas will set out to find his reincarnated successor. The Chinese government has intervened in that history, and claimed approval rights for the Dalai Lama in the 1950s. So, is this move a step towards greater Tibetan democracy or is the spiritual leader simply playing politics? The Hindustan Times quotes a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman as saying, it’s a trick.
JIANG YU: “He has often talked about retirement in the past few years. I think these are his tricks to deceive the international community.”
Others say some good might come out of this. BBC China quotes a Bochum University professor — who says this boils down to a Tibetan-style separation of church and state.
“…(the) Dalai Lama announces his exit in the political realm and didn’t give up his position as spiritual leader. But his action means this medieval, traditional, very out-of-date system of unification of church and state will come to an end. … theoretically it’s advancement.”
But a Time magazine blogger says, The Dalai Lama knows exactly what he’s doing — and he’s sending a strong message to the rest of the world.
“…a separate political structure will exist in which Tibet’s interests can be looked after by an independent leader. In that case, reincarnation will not be the salient issue. Democracy, as practiced by the Tibetan exile community, will be. How’s that for a deft move by a ‘wolf in monk’s robes?’”
Tibetans will vote for their new prime minister later this month. CNN’s Zain Vergee reports – the Dalai Lama’s announcement wasn’t a surprise.
“He’s going to put forward amendments and he wants a vote to happen on the successor. (FLASH) A lot of people are saying the Dalai Lama has worked so hard for the cause, the guy just needs a break. This is just kind of symbolic, really, it’s so important this happening. Actually the Tibetan government in exile has not really made a lot of political progress in terms of what they want over the last few years.”
Finally – The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos predicts – the Dalai Lama might find it difficult to separate himself politically from the Tibetan cause.
“…despite his persistent attempts to renounce his political functions and pave the way for a new generation of leaders who can govern without the emotional and religious baggage he represents, he simply looms too large over the Tibet conflict to be there and not there at the same time.”
With the Dalai Lama not wielding the political power anymore and he remains the spiritual head of Tibet, what does this mean?
Since Dorje Shugden is claimed to harm Tibet’s cause, then by the Dalai Lama not being the political head it is not his worry or jurisdiction anymore.
As spiritual head of Tibet and without the political power, he does not have clout or legitimacy over the various Tibetan lineages. Which means the Dalai Lama can no longer dictate the Gelugpa affairs.