By Tenzin Gyalpo, U.K.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama released a message to the Tibetan Parliament on Monday, 14 March 2011. In this message, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has categorically instructed that His Holiness be relieved of all formal political authority. With this unprecedented and historic development, Tibetans must think doubly carefully about how they will vote at the Kalon Tripa elections on Sunday. The game has changed, completely. And we must ensure that our fateful decision on Election Day recognises this new and uncharted situation which we now find ourselves in.
The new Kalon Tripa will now assume the mantle of complete political leadership, without the oversight of His Holiness to ensure the wisdom of his decisions. This is at a time when our people are confronted with the most critical test we have ever faced in our long history – a policy of deliberate and systematic annihilation of our identity and race by China, a country now challenging America for global economic and military supremacy.
What our Kalon Tripa needs in this new and uncharted situation we now inhabit is tried and tested experience, not untested zeal or hype. I have a lot of respect for Lobsang Sangay, particularly for the positive role model he provides to Tibetan youth. But this is simply not a time when we, the Tibetan people, can risk an untried experiment with an inexperienced candidate. Tashi Wangdi has the unmatched experience of over four decades of serving His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people. He has led almost every ministry within the Tibetan Government as the Kalon, leading Tibetan delegations in negotiations with the Chinese government and has spent years as the Representative of His Holiness in the US and Europe. Through having closely served His Holiness the Dalai Lama over many decades, Tashi Wangdi has an unparalleled sense of His Holiness's vision for the Tibetan people's future and it is clear that he is the candidate who can keep the Tibetan people's struggle on the path set by His Holiness. Indeed, the trust His Holiness the Dalai Lama has shown in Tashi Wangdi through directly appointing him as a Kalon in 1983, 1987 and again in 1992, as well as appointing him to represent His Holiness for more than two decades testifies for his credentials on this front.
The other quality crucial in our next Kalon Tripa, in this new and uncharted situation, is impeccable integrity and credibility in the eyes of the Tibetan public. At this time, we need a leader who can be trusted by everyone, not just their zealous supporters. The incorruptible Tashi Wangdi who has an unparalleled track record of integrity has this trust. Likewise, we also need a leader who can and will lead through consensus, uniting our community after an, at times, bitter election contest. Leading through consensus is exactly what Tashi Wangdi has done all through his long and distinguished career within the Tibetan Government. In contrast, in the eyes of many Tibetans, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong has a long shadow of dark questions hanging over his character. This includes the spectre of financial mismanagement and subsequent premature abandonment of Katri responsibilities. Tenzin Namgyal Tethong lacks trust and can never unite our people.
As we cast our votes on Sunday, know that the Kalon Tripa we are electing will now lead in a very different context than we thought just a few days ago. How we vote on Election Day must take this fact into account. Tashi Wangdi is the right candidate for our time.