By the Editorial Board of The Tibetan Political Review
The 15th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile meets from September 16 to October 1 of this year. One if its key tasks will be to consider candidates for the seven Kalons (ministers) nominated by the Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister), Lobsang Sangay. In order to ensure that the Tibetan people get the best administration possible, it is imperative that the names of the nominees be publicly disclosed now so that they can be thoroughly vetted.
Under Article 21 of the Tibetan Charter, the Parliament votes whether to confirm the Kalon Tripa’s nominees for the seven members of the Kashag (Cabinet). These seven Kalons are: Nangsi Kalon (Home Minister), Chidrel Kalon (Minister of Information and International Relations), Sherig Kalon (Education Minister), Choedhon Kalon (Religion Minister), Desung Kalon (Security Minister), Troeten Kalon (Health Minister), and Paljor Kalon (Finance Minister).
The Kalon Tripa will likely nominate qualified individuals to these important positions. However, we believe that any democracy is made stronger through checks and balances. The Central Tibetan Administration’s functioning would be improved by fully vetting the Kashag nominees. This vetting is a duty that constitutionally falls to the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. Not carrying out a full vetting would be a dereliction of the Parliament’s duty.
Tibetan democracy is structured similar to a presidential system (with a directly-elected executive separate from the legislature) rather than a parliamentary system (where the head of government is the leader of the legislative majority). In presidential systems such as the American and Tibetan ones, the legislature has the important power to vote whether to confirm the chief executive’s Cabinet.
Looking to the example of the United States, the President informs the Senate (the upper house of Congress) of a particular Cabinet nominee; the Senate investigates this nominee, including holding confirmation hearings where the nominee is questioned under oath. The Senate then votes on whether to confirm the nominee.
The purpose of this confirmation process is three-fold. First, the Senate assures that the nominee is qualified. Second, Senators can get the nominee’s views and policies on record. Third, the Senate serves as a political check by ensuring that the Cabinet nominee is politically acceptable, not only to the President (who nominates) but also to Senators (who confirm).