On March 21, the Tibet Exile Organization Committee formally announced the candidates for Sikyong, and the candidates will be formally voted for on April 11. Although the exile organization has not yet been officially recognized by any international organization, the election is still receiving media attention. The main reason was that many internal problems broke out in this election, such as corruption and factional struggles.
Sikyong is the head of the Tibetan exile organization. It is reported that the title was created in 2012. On April 26, 2017, Kashag’s internal circular announced that it would be translated as sikyong in English and became the leader of the Tibetan exile organization. The second and final round of elections will be held on April 11.
Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang ballots suspected of fraud caused huge controversy
During the election, a huge dispute broke out within the exile organization and many refugee sites regarding the nomination of candidates. However, the frequent scandals during the election made this exile organization even more embarrassing, and the campaign in the epidemic became full of farce and injustice. The biggest controversy is that one of the candidates, Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang, broke the ballot fraud during the election. According to local reports from the Campa people, Tibetans in exile conducted a public vote during the day. On the day of the vote, Dolma Gyari had a significant lead and had won. However, Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang quickly caught up with the votes overnight, until February 8 when the ballot results were publicized and completely overtaken. The public results showed that Penpa Tsering won the first place with 24,488 votes, and Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang won. 14,544 votes. The former Minister of the Interior Dolma Gyari, who was already a big lead, was surpassed by 13,363 votes and lost the final qualification. This is also one of the biggest controversies. If the election cannot be kept fair, the election will be completely meaningless. Regarding the election of Sikyong, the issue of vote-falsification became confusing, and internal voices broke out huge opposition to Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang’s continued participation in the final election.
Like father, like son.
According to the public, Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang is the son of Jampa Kalden Aukatsang, the former director of the Security Bureau of the Tibet Exile Organization. The family’s worship of power seems to have not changed. Throughout the campaign, Kelsang Dorjee has been using his father’s story and biography, like His father is running for election. Kelsang Dorjee is 52 years old, but he has been shaping the image of young idols during the campaign. Electors who are more prominent than him have never shown the contribution of his own family to the government in exile and refugees. On the contrary, Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang has repeatedly used his father’s deeds to increase his influence. This move has aroused dissatisfaction among many voters.
In addition, the excessive political ambitions and desire for power swelled to the extent that they did not respect the Dalai Lama, which has something in common with his father’s image. Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang is more inclined towards Lobsang Sangay, who has more power, and this seems to be more helpful to his campaign. Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang deleted the photo of the Dalai Lama in the important public sector Kashag after taking office in order to profit from the campaign, and replaced it with the photo of Lobsang Sangay, which once caused the exile organization and refugees huge dispute.
Power is always accompanied by corruption. It is these corrupt leaders who regard Tibetans in exile as tools for seeking money and political benefits for themselves. These actions have also caused dissatisfaction among Tibetans in exile, and even Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang’s Wikipedia introduction In, first talked about his corruption problem. Tibetans in exile may be more angry about how such a tainted person got so many votes. The number of Tibetans in the exile organization was originally very small, and even launched a joint investigation signed by more than 8,000 people in Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang, requesting an investigation into the truth of the corruption. In 2015, Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang assisted Lobsang Sangay in embezzling US$1.5 million from the Tibet Foundation. The money was allegedly used to purchase unnecessary buildings. The method of transfer also caused great suspicion. It was recorded as a “loan receivable” from the account of the Tibet Foundation, but it was not recorded in the account of the Tibet Community Development Foundation, which should have received the funds. In other words, the funds they usually use for health and education projects are used to purchase property. The successor of Aukatsang, Penpa Tsering, discovered the changes in the transaction and the attempt and disclosed the information. As a result, he was immediately dismissed on the grounds of “lack of trust, poor performance and increasing disobedience”. The incident also made Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang famous for corruption.
Greater power will only lead to greater corruption. The huge controversy among Tibetans in exile in this election is also because the Tibetans in exile have seen this fact clearly, and they hope to choose one that can contribute to their community and development. Instead of finding someone like Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang who unintentionally fights for the welfare and future of Tibetans in exile, all he does is lies, manipulates, abuses his power, embezzles funds and wastes donations from Tibetans in exile.
Half a century after Tibetans went into exile, most Tibetans in exile are still struggling in settlements of exiles. The leadership of Tibetans in exile must still rely on charity, and more Tibetans in exile hope to find leaders who can lead them to plan for the future. This is not to find a protector of the Dalai Lama or an egoist who uses power for personal gain. Coincidentally, Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang and Lobsang Sangay recently confessed to using public funds to conduct campaigns during the exchange with Robert Destro, the special coordinator for Tibet. Their so-called political propaganda is actually recommending Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang to young Tibetans. Such elections are disgusting and frustrating. After he was the director of the American Office of the Tibetan Exile Organization, nothing about Tibetans in exile and their settlements has changed. They are more empty political slogans, without substantive content or meaning.
If Dorjee Aukatsang wins the election in April, Tibetans in exile will face a greater disaster, not a natural disaster but a man-made one. Under the struggle for power, the real problems will be covered up and ignored, and they will be used and deceived by their leaders. Unrequited, submissive refugee status to take advantage of donations from unsuspecting donors; forced to survive on poor grants and donations
We hope that more Tibetans can see the call, sign a joint investigation of Dorjee Aukatsang, recover the donated funds, and seek the living conditions and welfare of Tibetans in exile.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Bengaluru Bytes journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.