By Ogyen K Gchenpa
With exile election fever being unprecedently high, our tiny community has gone abuzz. Politically charged Tibetans are filling wherever possible with political discussions. Such exceptional show of interest by the ordinary people in an election in this scale is rather unheard of in the past. This is mainly because of the election saw, for the first time, someone with an entirely different political ideology joining the race. When convention encounters change, outcry is certain.
One of the most important principles of democracy is pluralism, to accommodate differences and agree to disagree. But looking at the denigrations directed at Lukar Jam, an ardent believer of Rangzen (complete independence for Tibet), at the cost of our democracy, we need to still fight for democracy from the conservative circles of our society. His Holiness has given democracy to us as a gift, but those who are entrusted with its delivery seem to have hijacked it on the way, and tag anyone who actually wants it as anti-Dalai Lama.
Lukar Jam is a man of principles, and ready to endure all the disdain and vilification to live his beliefs. Who, among the conservative segments of our community, dares to do this? To believe in something and not to live it is dishonest, and Lukar is challenging this dishonesty and subservience that hits exactly at their Achilles heel that costs him all sorts of character assassinations from the conservatives and their accomplices.
There are multiple unfounded allegations and accusations on the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, We Chat, Whats App etc. These rumor-mongers are the chief culprits that hinder the growth of our democracy. With the preliminary polls a few days away, it is necessary to explain and clarify these malicious allegations for a fair election:
It is widely circulated on the net that Lukar has referred His Holiness as la-rgan in one of his earlier writings, and people are made-believe that this is disparaging of His Holiness. “la” is the abbreviation of “lama” meaning “teacher”, “rgan” literally means “old” or “senior” but may also mean “honorable” or “respected”, like in the case of “rgan lak” (teacher) even if the teacher is young, and in Amdo dialect, we call “pha-rgan” (father) and “ma-rgan” (mother). For sure, one wouldn’t call a teacher, father and mother in derogatory ways.
He has been accused for calling His Holiness traitor. I’ve been closely following Lukar’s speeches since declaration of his candidacy. He has never said anything like that. He talked about this on two occasions, on VOT and RFA interviews. On both of these occasions, he didn’t talk about it voluntarily, rather he was asked whether His Holiness was a patriot or a traitor, and in response he said “this is something I don’t need to say, out of these two options, which category someone who gives up (or cedes) the sovereignty of a country to another country belongs, political science has it clearly defined.” He never called His Holiness traitor and it is a thought-control to say what he said actually meant it or equals what he is accused of.
Related to this, tsen-me (disparagement) and sur-sa (sarcasm) are two catch-phrases constantly used by Lukar’s detractors to accuse him to be deploying against His Holiness. These detractors deliberately equate Umay-lam (Middle-way Approach) with His Holiness, just as anyone disagrees with Umay-lam is labeled as anti-Dalai Lama. This actually reveals their desperation after more than three decades of wrong policy and futile efforts. When they have lost everything (on our behalf), His Holiness is the last and only refuge, not even Umay-lam any more, making His Holiness their shield, and yet not willing to admit it. Till date, Lukar Jam has been the only one that visibly and sincerely attempts to fulfill His Holiness’ wishes and aspirations for the exile Tibetans to be self-reliant and independent of him.
Some unscrupulous rascals spread vicious rumors online that Lukar was imprisoned for stealing a yak, and their confederates mis-copied it as a horse, which alone shows how hollow their accusations are. Lukar’s reason for arrest and imprisonment is for “splittist activities” for establishing an underground Tibetan youth organization for Rangzen, which is well-documented by TCHRD. Such blatant and gross untruth is an insult to all the Tibetan martyrs who have sacrificed for the cause of our nation!
Some nitpickers have found language problems with Lukar Jam. One is that he doesn’t know English. While such trivial concerns don’t deserve a serious response, it may be worth reminding some the value of Tibetan language, in which he is so proficient that very few in exile can parallel. Those that misconceive that English is a precondition to become a Sikyong are certainly poor in Tibetan (and most probably in English too), because the premise to this logic has to be that Tibetan language is incapable of political discourses. Those who closely follow Lukar speaking would realize our language that we keep hearing from the CTA officials that are so clumsy, monotonous and templated are actually so beautiful, rich and sophisticated. For me, for this reason alone it is worth hearing his speeches. Lukar’s prime-ministership will also hugely benefit the Tibetan language promotion drive that we’ve been striving for all these years in our schools in exile.
On the other hand, Lukar Jam’s fluency in Chinese is ignored. This makes it clear the true motive behind this complaint. It’s a huge bonus for a Sikyong to know the language of the enemy, far better than one that knows English and has to obtain information from third parties that the accuracy of the information can’t be guaranteed.
Another “concern” related to his language is his Amdo accent. Actually his accent is not purely Amdo, it has already been well hybridized. Those who complain about this actually have never seriously attempted to lend their ears. If this is so, then why majority people who are not from Amdo can understand perfectly while only few cannot? Even if it is not understandable (though it actually is), this cannot be a reason to put hurdles on his way to becoming a Sikyong. The powerful Chinese communist leader Deng Xiaoping, who is credited with the Chinese economic development, hailed from Sichuan Province, where the dialect is very different from the rest of China, and Chinese people could hardly grasp his accent, yet he could do the work exceptionally well.