By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 25: A Tibetan survey group established during 5-50 Youth Forum meetings released a report on Monday that said 74% of the 4,009 respondents support increasing parliamentary seats from outside South Asia (SA) in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE). The participants of the survey conducted from Sept. 2nd to Oct. 31st last year, ranged from diverse age groups and occupations from 32 countries.
The survey aims to “be more inclusive of all Tibetans in the diaspora around the world into the democratic decision-making process”, by analysing popular opinion on five seats allocated to Tibetans outside SA. 5-50 Youth ambassador Lharong included policy recommendations to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) for increasing seat allocation from 11% to 50% to Tibetans residing outside of India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The report noted that overall 38% of respondents were not aware of the five seats for Tibetans residing outside of SA. It claimed that lack of knowledge vis-a-vis seat distribution across the diaspora is proportionately high in South Asia, “Lower knowledge about the democratic system combined with lower participation of Tibetan voters in South Asia compared to other regions is a threat to Tibetan democracy. The threat is amplified as voters in the South Asia region currently determine 89% of parliament seats.”
The independent working group said this initiative is to bring about more awareness of representation in TPiE, and for navigating strategies to create a platform for discussion around seat composition. It further explained that out of 74% approval rate in support, 52% respondents preferred restructuring through popular distribution whereas 27% argued that expanding the existing provincial representation throughout the disapora could bring about change.
The spokesperson also cited the ‘Baseline Study of the Tibetan Diaspora Community outside South Asia’ published in Sept last year which argued that “approximately half the population live outside of the three traditional exile communities of India, Nepal and Bhutan”. The former AITSAM President remarked that the risk of alienating Tibetans outside of SA could have a “significant negative impact on the development of Tibetan democracy.”
The existing TPiE currently consists of 45 parliamentary members with 10 representatives from each of the traditional provinces of Tibet, i.e. U-Tsang, Dotoe, Domey; two from each of the four schools of Buddhism and pre-Buddhist Bon religion; and two from communities in North and South Americas and one from Australasia and Asia (excluding India-Nepal-Bhutan).