By Tenzin Dharpo
President of the exile Tibetan government, Lobsang Sangay. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, MAY 2: In a new and stealthy development, the Kashag (Cabinet) of the exile Tibetan government known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration has moved independently to implement the usage of the official English title for the Sikyong as ‘President’. In the absence of a mandated official English equivalent for the term Sikyong earlier, titles denoting the same such as Prime-Minister, elected leader, political leader were used widely.
An official report published last week in CTA run tibet.net was the first time when the new title in English featured in the public domain. Secretary of the Kashag, Topgyal Tsering told Phayul upon enquiry that the usage of the term ‘President’ has been independently agreed upon by the Sangay led Cabinet in a meeting and consequently implemented.
“Since there is no uniformly accepted and used title in English for Sikyong, the matter was discussed in the cabinet meeting and moved to implement ‘President’ as the official title in English. We have already begun using it in our official channels and gradually the public, media and others will take notice,” Tsering told Phayul.
No public announcement or notice of the issue was made by the Kashag although there is conjecture that the Sangay and his aides have broached the matter with the standing committee of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile. Phayul’s attempt to reach the Speaker of the TPiE was met with refusal to give any comments.
The role of the parliament in the particular matter according to the Kashag’s Secretary is not mandated by the Charter itself. “The Tibetan Charter prescribes that the Tibetan title ‘Sikyong’ is the last resort in case of any altercations over the English equivalency of the title. Hence there is no need for the title being approved by the TPiE,” Tsering responded.
Lobsang Sangay who is on an official tour in Australasia currently was called the “President of Tibet” by one New Zealand media outlet while many in the mainstream media have called him by other titles. The new title without any official announcement, many say, will continue to attract lack of uniformity while addressing to the person in the highest office of the Tibetan polity.
The Tibetan word Sikyong was mandated to be the official title in September 2012 after the motion was approved by the 15th Tibetan Parliament in Exile. Prior to that, the title was preceded by Kalon Tripa which many understood to be the Prime Minister. Historically the term Sikyong has been used by regents who held office during the absence of the then political and temporal leader, the Dalai Lama.
The current Sikyong/President Lobsang Sangay is in the second term in office after winning the election earlier last year with a comfortable margin over his nearest rival.