By Tashi Phuntsok
North American Chitue candidate
Answers in Response to TPR's
"10 Questions for North American Chitue Candidates"
(1) What, in your opinion, makes you qualified to represent North American Tibetans in the Parliament-in-Exile?
In my opinion, I am qualified to represent North American Chitue in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile due to the following reasons:
a) Networking skills:
I have a very good relationship with many Tibetans living throughout Canada and the USA with whom I network on a regular basis. This will definitely help to keep me informed of the important issues faced by my constituents. I can then bring these issues to the Chitue Lhentsog to be addressed.
b) Strong Communications Skills in both Tibetan and English languages:
I am not only fluent in English but also in Tibetan. This I feel should be one of the main criteria that are required for Chitue in order to comprehend the level of Tibetan spoken at all regular meetings held by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPIE) especially during Chitue Lhentsog.
My 16 years of service with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in various capacities has given me a wide range of understanding of how our government functions and what issues our grass roots North American Tibetans' face. My experience includes:
These experiences of being on both sides of the fence will definitely help me to lobby for the changes in our policy that would benefit both our government and my constituents.
d) Commitment to my responsibilities.
A few examples of meetings attended are:
So I will continue my devotion for Tibet by attending Chitue Lhentsog in Dharamsala and present issues from my constituents that need to be addressed in the TPIE
e) Innovative and willing to explore new ideas
I always believe in challenges of finding new ways to address old problems which exist in every organization and I am not afraid to push for the changes that I think will have a long term benefit. During my term as President of Tibetan Association of Alberta, we revised our by-law which had not been amended since 1977. We also brought changes to TAA's financial management, conflict of interest resolutions and election procedures. These changes not only enhanced the protection of our Association but also helped to improve the process of member participation, especially during the election of new officers.
As Chitue, I would:
(3) What do you see are the short term (1-5 years) priorities of the Parliament-in-Exile and what would you do as Chitue to deal with those priorities?
Presently, Tibetan Parliament in Exile meets twice a year in Dharamsala for about ten days each. Much of the time is spent discussing the report of the Kashag. TPIE needs to spend more time discussing the future plan and policy draft. The short term priorities of a Chitue should be;
(4) What do you see are the long term (5-10+ years) priorities of the Parliament-in-Exile and what would you do as Chitue to deal with those priorities?
(5) What do you see are the greatest issues or problems currently facing the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and what recommendations would you make to deal with those issues?
Some of the current difficulties TGiE is facing besides deadlock dialogue with China are youth unemployment, a large migration of the younger generation from settlements and many settlers not sowing their fields, etc. I don't have any recommendations to deal with these issues at the moment but I look forward to finding solutions to these problems if I am elected.
However I think negotiating with the Chinese Government is the first and foremost issue currently facing the Tibetan Government. We need to use all necessary resources in the Parliament for the success of this initiative.
(6) What changes, if any, would you recommend concerning the Parliament-in-Exile? Examples could be in the term of office for Chitues or the current regional make-up of the Chitue representatives?
The way the current regional make-up of the Chitue representatives is done, it limits the individual Chitue's responsibility to its constituents. At least half of the seat allocation should be based on population count and geographical location rather than ancestral regions and sects. Ask any young Tibetan born in North America and half of them would not know what "Cholka" or "Choelug" they are, but they still have the strongest unbiased conviction in the struggle of the unified Tibet.
(7) What amendments, if any, in the Charter for Tibetan Exiles would you recommend?
There is a provision in the Charter that Settlement officers be elected by the local people. So far only a few settlements have opted for this and some have not been successful. They would rather have officers be sent by CTA because they could not find suitable settlement officers themselves. Therefore this provision needs to be amended that qualified and experienced Settlement Officers are deputed from CTA, Dharamsala
(8) How do you think His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s retirement from politics would affect the Tibetan struggle and what suggestions would you make to the Exile Government for handling the issue of His Holiness’ retirement from politics?
No doubt His Holiness' retirement from politics will affect our struggle, I hope a good group of leaders in our parliament dedicated to furthering His Holiness’ vision will help to maintain the momentum of our struggle. However, it is critical that the Tibetan cause be settled within the lifetime of His Holiness. I feel the TGiE should request that His Holiness continues to remain as both spiritual and temporal leader of the 6 million Tibetans. At the same time, we must request His Holiness to reduce his public appearance and tour schedule to maintain his good health.
In the meantime, to strengthen our democratic foundation, we need to emphasize educating our masses about our rights and responsibilities as Tibetans in their participation of our democracy.
(9) What are your views towards the Middle Way Policy (Ume Lam) and rangzen for Tibet? Do you support either one or something else and why?
Rangzen surely is historically our right, however, at the moment; there is extreme danger of losing our identity and culture in Tibet. Therefore, due to the urgency of the present situation in Tibet, I believe the Middle Way Policy is the right choice for us at this time.
(10) Is there anything else you would like to tell voters, either about yourself or the issues, on why they should vote for you as a North American Chitue?
If I am elected, I will do my best to: