By Bhuchung K. Tsering
During the 1992 presidential campaign here in the United States a slogan that became the symbol of Bill Clinton’s success against then President George Bush senior was, “It’s the economy, stupid.” This was basically to point to the reality that whatever President Bush’ positive marks in foreign affairs, ultimately it was the state of American economy that needed to be discussed and addressed.
Now, here is a thought. The topic around the “water coolers” in the Tibetan community in exile currently is the Kalon Tripa election.
On the positive side this has brought increased awareness among the people about the Kalon Tripa. Irrespective of one’s knowledge, it has become a status symbol of sort to have an opinion on who should be the next Kalon Tripa.
On the negative side, there is an unrealistic expectation from this position with people virtually looking at this as the second coming of the Lord. On the issue of dialogue with the Chinese leadership, people who support differing political future for Tibet are placing their hope on the next Kalon Tripa to take up the cudgel on their behalf.
Given the current structure and system of the Tibetan Administration I would like to say that it is a misplaced hope if people are looking to the next Kalon Tripa to change the political position. Just as the Democrats pointed to the economy being the real issue during the above mentioned 1992 presidential campaign, the truth is that if the Tibetans want a change in the political path, it is the Tibetan Parliament that they have to look to, not the Kalon Tripa. To improvize from the American slogan, in the Tibetan case, It’s the Parliament, stupid!
For evidence of the Parliament being the one that can do this, we could look at the development in 2004. In March 2004, the Tibetan Parliament, at the initiative of some parliamentarians, passed a private member’s resolution to review the Middle Way Approach if there was no positive Chinese response by March 2005. However, in September of the same year, another group of parliamentarians introduced a resolution, that voided the March 2004 resolution. Although the March 2004 did not have the time to alter the course of the Tibetan struggle, it showed that the Parliament, if enough members concurred, could initiate such a process.
Also, if people had been paying attention to the statements by the present Kalon Tripa, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, then the Kashag has been clearly looking to the Parliament is projected as the one that has been endorsing the present political approach.
With this being the case, it is a bit surprising that there is less “hungama” to use an Indian term, over the parliamentary elections than about the Kalon Tripa. Even though both the elections are around the same time, the politically savvy younger Tibetans have not shown any obvious interest in the parliament. There is no separate website for possible members of the Tibetan parliament, as there is on the Kalon Tripa. There is no mock elections or debates being organized concerning the parliament as there has been about the Kalon Tripa. On the issue of debate, while it may be impractical to organize such events in the Indian subcontinent where the constituencies are not geographical, they can certainly be held in North America or Europe from where there will be three parliamentarians. But nothing like that seems to be in the offing.
To me, both the elections need equal attention for different reasons. But if you desire a change in Tibetan politics, look to the Parliament, I say, not to the Kalon Tripa. It ain’t going to happen this way.
Originally published at: http://tibetreport.wordpress.com/