News / Asia

Tibetan Exiles Say Secular Politics Will Produce Livelier Democracy

Lobsang Sangay, left, the new prime minister of Tibet's government in exile, stands next to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as he greets the crowd at his swearing-in ceremony at the Tsuglakhang Temple in Dharmsala, India, August 8, 2011
Lobsang Sangay, left, the new prime minister of Tibet's government in exile, stands next to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as he greets the crowd at his swearing-in ceremony at the Tsuglakhang Temple in Dharmsala, India, August 8, 2011
Kurt Achin

Tibetan exiles say this week's inauguration of a secular political leader to take over administrative duties from the Dalai Lama will help produce a livelier democracy and advance the long term goal of returning to their homeland.

Traditional cultural dancers performed Tuesday for newly inaugurated Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay and invited guests, including parliamentarians from around the world.  Mr. Lobsang told the guests his administration would set a new example for democracy, with politics deeply influenced by Buddhist morality and civility.

The new Tibetan leader is replacing a revered Buddhist monk in the leadership role. Lobsang is the first Tibetan prime minister to take office since Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, removed himself from political duties.

Chime Youngdung, President of the Tibetan exile National Democratic Party, says the shift toward secular rule is significant.

"Up to now, Tibetan politics and the dharma [the Buddhist concept of individual conduct in conformity with the principle or law that orders the universe] are mixed.  Now, the dharma and politics should go separate," Youngdung said.

Tenzin Tsundue, a well-known Tibetan independence activist, says Mr. Lobsang's communication skills and charisma energize Tibetan exiles.

"Among the Tibetan community, he's a star.  When he comes on stage, everybody claps.  No Tibetan leader up until today has been whistled at.  He's somebody who attracts that kind of genuine public expression of excitement," Tenzin Tsundue said.

The Dalai Lama has been the political and spiritual leader of exiled Tibetans since he established the Central Tibetan Administration here in northern India more than 50 years ago.  Tibetan exiles describe it as the legitimate government of their Chinese-occupied homeland, and the main platform for seeking autonomy.

Tenzin Choekyi, general secretary of the pro-independence Tibetan Youth Congress, says reverence for the man Tibetans call "His Holiness" made criticism of him and his religious subordinates almost impossible.   A lay person like Mr. Lobsang, she says, is a much easier target for public debate.

"We come from a Buddhist culture and every time we see a monk we tend to show more reverence to a monk.  But it will be easier to sort criticize him [Lobsang], openly or closed door also.  Because he has that sort of accessibility to him," said Tenzin Choekyi.

Lobsang Wangyal, director of the "Miss Tibet" pageant held recently in Dharamsala, says criticism will be healthy for the Tibetan exile leader.

"That makes him great, that makes him good, that makes him able. That makes him think, that makes him move.  So these are very important elements to develop our society, to move forward like this," Wangyal said.

Mr. Lobsang has promised to invest in education to produce at least 10,000 highly skilled Tibetan professionals like himself to advance exile democracy.  Tibetan exiles also say they will also gradually move to a system of multi-party democracy.

The establishment of democratic institutions is seen as a crucial step in fostering Tibetan exiles' ability to stand on their own after the 76-year-old Dalai Lama passes away.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs