If Lobsang Sangay Had Honor, He Would Resign

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If anyone wonders why after more than half a century in exile, some Tibetan refugees are saying that they are not even close to a whiff of returning to their homeland, the escalating infighting amongst the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) top officials provides a clue.

The CTA, or the exiled Tibetan leadership which is based in Dharamsala, claims to be a democracy. However, its policies, actions and behaviors reflect nothing of a democracy. In fact, the leadership has always been run on strong-man politics more akin to totalitarian regimes. Since they entered exile in 1959, the CTA have demonstrated a strangely comfortable stance on policies that are nothing short of breaches of its own constitution. As the decades rolled on, it became clearer to observers that the Dalai Lama and his proxies could, at their whims and fancies, override even the highest law governing the Tibetans in diaspora.

Yet, one of the strongest indicators that the CTA is not a real democracy is the stark absence of a viable, functioning opposition party. In the recent 2016 Sikyong (Prime Minister) elections, it seemed as though a contender had been found in the form of Penpa Tsering, the former Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. Though he was in fact already part of the Tibetan political establishment, his candidacy in the race represented the first real challenger for the incumbent Sikyong Lobsang Sangay’s position.

In truth, the Tibetan people’s most dangerous and formidable enemy is their own government, now headed by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay.

The race for Sikyong was a dirty one, characterized by mud-slinging and personal attacks between the two candidates. After Penpa Tsering lost and was transferred to a diplomatic post outside of Dharamsala, it appeared as though the tensions were over and everyone had moved on. Penpa Tsering was appointed the Dalai Lama’s donjo (representative) of North America, a lucrative position that connected him with many wealthy sponsors, and Lobsang Sangay retained his cushy Sikyong position. All appeared well and no one had any inkling of the issues to come.

On November 15, 2017 the website TibetSun.com reported rising tensions in Dharamsala as Penpa Tsering loyalists gear up to protest against Sikyong Lobsang Sangay’s CTA on November 27th. Their main reason for protesting is the lack of sound reasons for the recent dismissal of Penpa Tsering as the North American donjo.

This is not the first time that the Tibetan people have watched the CTA act without reason, logic or accountability. Having witnessed the CTA rob Dorje Shugden worshippers of their constitutional right to practice their belief, Tibetans therefore should not be surprised when their choice political candidate is removed from power without any natural justice being accorded him.

The Tibetan people in diaspora have every reason to be concerned. They simply cannot afford another cause for division especially given their desperate need to unite in the face of China’s stature. As it is, the Tibetans are already fractured on a multitude of fronts, for example:

  • The direction of the Tibetan cause (rangzen or full independence versus umaylam or meaningful autonomy)
  • Unresolved historic regional quarrels, for example between Khampas like Lobsang Sangay supporters and Amdo/U-Tsangpas like Penpa Tsering supporters
  • Enmity in the Karma Kagyu sect over the rightful Karmapa candidate
  • Conflicts amongst the Gelugpas due to the Dorje Shugden controversy, not to mention pre-existing, albeit soft, competition amongst the different Tibetan Buddhist schools.

All this strife can be traced to the decisions of the CTA and therefore could have been solved by a united CTA. But now the CTA looks to be rupturing, soon falling apart to the point of no return. This power struggle could not come at a more inconvenient time, as yet another generation of Tibetans are born into statelessness and hopelessness. Meanwhile, the CTA contends with the reality that the people of the host nation, India, are getting impatient and increasingly vocal as they wise up to the simple fact that so much is done for Tibetan refugees by their Indian government, when millions of Indians still live far below the poverty line.

Whilst this is precisely where the Tibetan refugees need the CTA to step in to protect them, little has been heard from the CTA over this issue and now we know why. Those who strut the corridors of CTA power are readying to go to war with each other. It is more important for Lobsang Sangay to consolidate his position and be rid of his opponents, than to work on policies and projects that benefit the ordinary Tibetan in exile. Indeed, things have degenerated to the point where the Sikyong can summarily dismiss and silence critics without any opposition, within a supposedly democratic government. 

Not only is it shocking that he can do so without being held accountable, but now we see how easily he can dispose of the Dalai Lama’s representative in a key ally-nation, the USA, whilst the Dalai Lama is still alive. Imagine a wildly ambitious Sikyong when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is no longer with us. At that point:

  • He will be the supreme head of a ‘nation’ that is instrumental to many Western powers seeking to curb China’s rise
  • As the head of state for this non-nation, his actions cannot be sanctioned by anyone, including the United Nations, and within the Tibetan government there are no political measures to ensure he remains accountable
  • He will have unfettered access to the countless millions that pour into the CTA’s coffers annually, without a need to be accountable or be audited
  • He will sit at the apex of a government that has no responsibility whatsoever to build any industry or economy for its people, because it suffices that its people remain poor refugees for the money to keep flowing in

It is clear now why the Sikyong position is such a coveted seat for so many including Penpa Tsering, and understandable why he now rallies his supporters to challenge Lobsang Sangay. The Tibetan people it seems, is acceptable attrition in this war for power, position and money. After all, what can the community do when they have no culture of holding their government accountable?

On November 15, 2017 the website TibetSun.com reported rising tensions in Dharamsala as Penpa Tsering loyalists gear up to protest against Sikyong Lobsang Sangay’s CTA on November 27th. Pictured here are Sikyong Lobsang Sangay (left) and Penpa Tsering (right)

But questions must now be asked of the Tibetan leaders, failing which the people must brace for disintegration along the many fault lines that their government has constructed in what is a perfect example of the ‘divide and conquer’ doctrine. Yet, perhaps not all needs to be lost if Tibetans are ready to muster support amongst themselves, and hold their leaders accountable and to demand serious and swift changes. A decade ago, this would have been unthinkable but in the past few years, we have seen a more vocal Tibetan populace in exile as more of them, especially the younger generation, are exposed to what fair, responsible and transparent governments produce and how the citizens of such governments benefit.

It would serve the Tibetan people well to recognise now that all the strife they face today have their origins in one CTA policy after another. And if they do come together, then the CTA cannot so easily use the people’s misfortune as a means to achieve their personal political and financial objectives. It will not be easy for the community to come together after decades of factionalism and intense training in following their leadership unquestioningly. But the fact remains that the future of their community is at stake.

Sikyong Lobsang Sangay recently said that Tibetans face an external enemy consisting of their nemesis, China, and Dorje Shugden people, and an internal enemy, which are rangzen (full independence) advocates. These groups have been labelled anti-Tibet ‘Chinese-paid agents’ and it will only be a matter of time before the CTA proclaims the same of those who protest against Lobsang Sangay. It is a cunning approach that worked like a charm when the Tibetan leadership wanted to turn their people against Dorje Shugden practitioners and those wishing for Tibetan independence.

In truth, the Tibetan people’s most dangerous and formidable enemy is their own government, now headed by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay. Given the slew of problems that the Tibetan leadership has created, the hopelessness of its cause, the miserable state Tibetan refugees are in, the countless false promises to return Tibetans to their homeland, and the chronic lack of progress, any true leader would resign. But this will not happen in the CTA. This is a government that has quietly sliced up the Tibetan nation of people into bite-sized pieces, each one too insignificant to be a problem or challenge for their power. Meanwhile, the leaders trade away their people’s future, culture and religion for pieces of silver, as the Tibetan dream of returning to their homeland is increasingly swept away.

 

Articles

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/news/2017/11/14/dharamshala-tibetan-settlement-officer-appeals-for-peace. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/news/2017/11/14/dharamshala-tibetan-settlement-officer-appeals-for-peace. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/news/2017/11/14/dharamshala-tibetan-settlement-officer-appeals-for-peace. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/11/11/tibetan-unity-in-peril-call-for-massive-street-protest-in-dharamshala. Click to read the full report.

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  1. Lobsang Sangay and the CTA are still living in their own world. They are still so arrogant and refuse to improve their relationship with China. Touring around the world to complain about China and tell people how badly Tibetans are treated is still the main agenda of Lobsang Sangay.

    Like it or not, China is developing rapidly, especially their economy. They have become one of the superpowers in the world. Most countries need to ride on China to stimulate their economy as well. One of the example is Nepal, who used to be a strong supported of the CTA.

    The Middle Way approach is the best option for the Tibetans. Tibet under the ruling of China has progressed so much. Tibetans’ life has improved a lot compared to 60 years ago. China has produced results whereas CTA has not been successful in anything.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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