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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Letter: Kalon Tripa -- 2011 Initiative (an extended version)

August 31, 2010

Chewang Ngokhang (Ajo Che) (by email)
August 30, 2010

For the first time in our history we are now
witnessing something that is both positive and
exhilarating. Unlike in the past two elections,
this time there is much discussion, inter-action
and enthusiastic involvement by our Gangchenpas
in the preliminary Kalon Tripa election of 2011.

This is something new and that the Desi Goleb
syndrome which has afflicted our people for
centuries is now history, as people are getting
into heated debates on various issues relating to
the elections, and the prospective candidates,
etc. The past three debates between the
candidates have generated much interest, synergy
and chatter among our folks, which is indeed very
encouraging and certainly unprecedented in the annals of our history.

These days the Tibetan communities all over the
world are much enthused about the elections, be
it in a cafe, private dinner or community meet
the talks more often than not, centered on the
elections and the candidates. While the debate
was going on in northern California, we in SoCal
had some deep, meaningful discourse among friends
and two visitors from abroad, who had come over
for dinner. Of course, each has her or his choice
of a favorable candidate, and often denizens are
getting into fiery debates over various issues
concerning our TGiE and Tibet issue. According to
sources, folks in Tibet too are surreptitiously
tuned in to the elections in the free world. This is awesome.

Here I must say Mr. Thubten samdup and his
volunteer helpers from Canada and India ignited
the election initiative in spring of last year.
Slowly but surely it has turned us all on, and
now people of all walks of life are engaging and
getting involved. I have heard both young and
old, lay and monks in our settlements are keenly
geared up and waiting for the next debate to be
held in south India within days. Even my father
ninety one years old, asked me over the phone
from Nepal as to who I was voting for. This is
exciting. To this I thank Mr. Thubten Samdup and
his helpers in taking the first step with their
unofficial initiative. Kudos to you all.

As we all know there were articles and all sorts
of feedbacks concerning the elections and
candidates in Phayul, WTNN and TPR. This is cool.
However, some have alleged that TPR has been
biased against Dr. Sangay while trying to promote
someone else. I never saw it that way; TPR being
partial never crossed my mind. All it was doing
was to critique those when there was sufficient
need to do so, based on a candidate's
presentation though the brunt of it was dished
out at Dr. Sangay. Buoyed by youthful exuberance,
Dr. Sangay was open and without much reservation
-- made some statements and some bold comparisons
with some world leaders etc.  -- which in TPR's
view were a little far fetched, if not
incongruous. So, it critiqued and I believe it
was beneficial to Dr. Sangay who was a little
more guarded in subsequent debates. That TPR was
biased is utterly unfounded as far as I'm concerned.

The bottom line is this sort of exchange of views
in civil manner is conducive to our welfare, and
the fledgling democracy we are trying hard to
acquaint with and practice. I must say I see
beauty in all this consistent with the maxim;
beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Besides, I
believe TPR was started by some well educated
professionals, working voluntarily in their spare
time to galvanize Tibet issue by means of raising
people's consciousness in regard to the loss of
freedom in occupied Tibet, and means to achieve
the lost freedom. As such, it' good to engage and
express one's views without finger pointing or mud slinging.

Some have thought Dr. Sangay was exalting himself
by informing others of his credentials and
achievements, but I've not perceived it in that
manner. I thought all he was saying was to inform
the people, especially, the young that if he
could accomplish all this starting from ground
zero, and then you too can. That was the message.
Being boastful never registered in my mind. Some
have touched on the subject of some being of
aristocratic back ground and so forth, but what's
that got to do with democracy. We elect the one
we think is the most suitable candidate
regardless of color, creed, gender or back
ground. This is what democracy is all about.  Don't you agree?

However, I must say Dr. Sangay's intermittent
mention of settlements with cows, goats and
chickens and, particularly, his classic
tingmo-dhal combo in Tibetan schools sharpens my
appetite causing me to salivate. Consequently, I
end up devouring the tingmo-dhal combo more often
than I should, which isn't too good for me since
I' diabetic. It would be nice if he could make a
slight correction in his biography the name Phare
to Phari; for I'm a Phariwa. Yes, sheyon, sheyon,
sheyon is a must for any candidate but that is
not everything; it's just one of the ingredients
in making an effective leader. In addition one
needs to be sage, savvy and gutsy when a
situation calls for it. Throw in also being
decisive, self-disciplined and dedicated, and above all ethical.

Obama has tons of sheyon but now he is labeled a
weak president for different reasons. The one
that concerns us is his postponement of Kundun's
visit to the White House, and I have learned the
Obama Administration now won't even mention the
words Tibet and the Dalai Lama. Sensing the
dithering democrats under his administration,
China is now flexing its muscles in the Pacific
waters, and making a lot of noise in the process.
Guess Uncle Chin is tired of playing second fiddle to Uncle Sam.

During the U.S. elections in 2008 top democratic
candidates cried out that former President George
W. Bush should not attend the Beijing Olympics.
Look who's talking? As far as I'm concerned,
Obama and his Administration don't have the balls
in the land of the free and the home of the
brave. Boy, do I miss George Bush during whose
presidency the Tibet issue got a boost, and we
flourished relatively well. Now the present
administration seems to be indifferent to our
cries for justice, while our brethrens in
colonized khawajong are languishing like Kunta Kintes.

I have never been a loyal fan of democrats who
seem to detest war but love love. Starting from
the Kennedys, Gary Hart, Bill Clinton and of late
John Edwards the list goes on and on. It was
reported that President Clinton used to drop by
the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff three to
four times a week. However, when a young, sassy
intern was working there, the presidential visit
to the office was about four times a day. During
one of his visits to the White House our Kundun,
the Nobel laureate was kept waiting in one of the
rooms in the lobby, while giving unfettered
access to the young intern in most private places
in the sanctity of the White House. No wonder he
paid the price; as the most powerful man on earth
ended up sleeping on the couch in White House for
months, being reprimanded by the First Lady for his infidelity. Poor Bill!

In retrospect, I would vote for Dr. Sangay but
there's a catch. The catch is I would defer it
till 2016 since the candidate is forty two years
new. The next five years should be spent getting
acquainted with the TGiE Administration and other
affairs in the diasporas. By that time Dr. Sangay
should be all set and poised to run once more and
win. In the mean time my choice is Kasur Tenzin
Namgyal Tethong who is healthy and has a wealth
of sheyon, empirical experience and many
achievements such as being a kasur, former New
York dhonchod, starting ICT, the 1,000 Immigrant
resettlement in the U.S., Tibet Fund and many
more. The only thing he lacks is a PhD, but then
who needs a doctorate when one is already
lecturing at Stanford University? Besides, who
says one needs a doctorate to be an effective leader.

Abraham Lincoln did not attend college or
university or even high school, let alone earn a
PhD. He was self taught. Yet he was one of the
four greatest presidents of America carved on
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. His writings were
famous and his speech is one of the greatest, if
not the greatest; the Gettysburg Address with the
ending, "That this nation, under God, shall have
a new birth of freedom – and that government of
the people, by the people, for the ppeople, shall
not perish from the earth." At the end of his
address on November 19, 1863, Lincoln received a
tsunami of applause from the audience. Just
writing the words gives me goose bumps all over
because it's so potent and powerful. It sure gives me the juice.

Now, let's fast forward to the present. I
remember reading an article that the chitue
elections are of more importance than Katri's
since our parliament can affect laws in line with
our legal charter. But, a few Dhasa veterans
laugh off saying our current Katri had
circumvented the parliament, and unilaterally
made many changes within the administration while
our chitues seemed to be impotent, embroiled in
in-fighting and bickering. In Star Buck's, El
Cerritos, Northern California, many of our people
flock there sipping latte and coffee, and catch
up with the latest news, current affairs and
gossip. This joint is also known as Jhutok Tsogpa
within our community, since the Tibs there
indulge in all sorts of political affairs and discussions.

When one says our Katri and TGiE don't have an
advisors, another retorts, "yes, we do. What
about Nechung and Gaatong?" I guess he's got a
point. Treading the path of democracy, and yet we
are seeking advice from oracles in this day and
age. I guess we are one of a kind after all.

One suggests we must separate state and religion.
To this I must say not a chance. I think many
desire separation because it has worked well with
many countries but that doesn't necessarily mean
that it will also work for us. In this karmic
life everything is timing. This is not a good
time for us to go for the separation. We should
have done this ideally at the dawn of the 20th
century or during the period after Second World
War when the League of Nations metamorphosed into
the United Nations. Sadly, we missed the boat
when we got tangled in the quagmire of the
infamous Taktrag-Reting feud. Well, this is a
case of should have, could have and would have.

In some ways our improper practice of Dharma, has
contributed to the loss of our country.  However,
paradoxically today it is our Dharma that is
keeping Tibet issue alive by fueling the flame of
our struggle against a formidable force. Our
Ayatollahs, Imams and Mullahs (rinpoches, tulkus
and kushos) employ various means to further our
just cause. Our monks and nuns in occupied Tibet
are amplifying their voices for the voiceless,
clamoring for justice, and surely end up getting
arrested and being tormented and tortured in cold
cells. Under the leadership of tireless Kundun,
today Tibet issue is an international issue on
par with Taiwan after fifty years of blood,
sweat, tears and toil by all. Tibs are not the
only ones to mix state and religion as there is
the axis of TIBS: Tibetans, Iranians, Bhutanese
and Saudis. It works just fine with G-4. So, why tamper with it now, duh?!

In light of toda's instantaneous communications
largely through the Internet --when the morning
newspaper information is already stale -- the
five year term for a Katri iis a bit long. It
should be four years, and if a candidate wins
successive second term that should be for three
years totally seven years altogether. A decade of
double terms is way too long although some have
requested for a third term, which is almost
unprecedented in the United States with the
exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who won
three terms. But, that was then and this is now.

Also, I wish to point out that all our people
from top to bottom pronounce, and write mangtso
as dmangtso. This is wrong. It should be mangtso
meaning government of the people or majority. The
word dmangtso is a communist jargon or
translation meaning government of the proletariat
or working class. Another word we use all the
time without giving the slightest thought to it:
Bhodrick for Tibetans. This too is a communist
invented word; perhaps coined by the die-hard
Tibetan communist by the name of Baba Phuntsog
Wangyal. Bhodrick clearly implies Tibetans as one
of the 56 minorities of China. The proper word is
Bhodme and I've learned that our young
compatriots in Tibet today detest the word
Bhorick, and instead use the word Bhodme; showing
a clear sign of our national identity. So, what
do you say my fellow Bhodme nampa tso?

Well, this is my two cent input, and regurgitated
my bone of contention. What's your take? I
personally know many of our compatriots with
exceptional sheyon. To them I say it's about time
to get the heck out of the cocoon of reticence
and pitch in with your say. Share with us what
you got. To all may I also say please heed the
quote from Lincoln, "To sin in silence when one
should protest, makes cowardice out of men."

Yes, together and united we CAN.

Chewang Ngokhang (Ajo Che)
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