By Tenzin Dharpo
CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay delivering the Berman lecture at Emory University in Atlanta on 9 April 2018. photo- tibet.net
DHARAMSHALA, April 10: The President of the exile Tibetan government known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration on Monday delivered a lecture on his people’s transition to secular democracy from the Dalai Lama institution ruled model, at Emory Law’s annual Berman Lecture. Dr. Lobsang Sangay said the Tibetan model is “unique and interesting”.
The Tibetan President said that the Tibetan people’s transition to a secular democracy is propagated by the temporal and spiritual Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama who voluntarily devolved his authority to an elected office in 2011. “His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to politely refuse the Tibetan people’s request in 2010 and force his decision to fully democratize the Tibetan polity, which in itself is unusual,” he added.
The Harvard educated statesman said that Tibetans have been intricately linked with spirituality and that the Dalai Lama’s devolution of power was not only a transition but a major shift in dynamics. He said that the, “democratization of the Tibetan polity in 2011 is not only a big transition; it is a drastic departure from past practice.”
He also added that the administrative jurisdiction of the exile government based in Dharamshala, India, operates without a physical border or state. “As an exile administration, the Tibetan administration doesn’t have a state. The Tibetan refugee community is scattered across the world. So, when the Tibetan cabinet makes a decision, they send the notice to Tibetans around the world and it is followed by all, irrespective of the size of the Tibetan community in the place. You have to realize that we don’t have a police to enforce the decisions, nor do we punish anyone if the decisions are not followed and yet it is followed by all without fail,” he said.
Sangay who became the first democratically elected leader to assume power from the Dalai Lama in 2011, won two terms to the office of Tibetan polity’s highest position. He secured comfortable margins in the two Tibetan general elections he had contested. However, some of his decisions in office has been both criticized and protested by certain section of the Tibetan community. In his ongoing presidency, two protests have taken place till date, over decisions made by the cabinet, which he chairs.