Dicki Chhoyang's Answers to "10 Questions"

By Dicki Chhoyang
North American Chitue candidate
Montreal, Canada 

Answers in Response to TPR's
"10 Questions for North American Chitue Candidates"

(1) What, in your opinion, makes you qualified to represent North American Tibetans in the Parliament-in-Exile?   

An individual’s qualifications are a combination of multiple factors: life experience, skills, education, personal temperament, and motivation.   What I can bring to this position is strongly linked to my experience working in Tibet for several years and the generation I represent.  Those years spent in the field enabled me to deepen my understanding of daily realities affecting Tibetans inside Tibet.   As the TGIE strives to defend the rights of Tibetans inside Tibet, this exposure to their reality is invaluable as a Tibetan parliamentarian.   

Furthermore, I belong to an important segment of the North American diaspora, the growing number of young Tibetans who were born and/or raised here.  Many of us care deeply about the Tibetan cause and are searching for opportunities to contribute to the growth of our community in a way that is meaningful and respectful of efforts made by previous and current generation of Tibetan public servants.  I see my holding the office of Chitue as a way to help bridge a gap between the TGIE and a younger generation in Tibetans both inside Tibet and the diaspora. 

The position of Chitue will also call for analytical, communication, and planning  skills.  I have had the opportunity to develop such skills over the years through professional assignments as well as academic training.    Community development is also an area that has always captured my interest.  It is what brought me to work in Tibet and my current position as a community liaison officer for a large urban project downtown Montreal.  

Philosophically speaking, I see whatever contribution I can make as parliamentarian as a dot in a continuum.   We are here because of others’ hard work and dedication, and it is now our generation’s turn to further reinforce that foundation so that others after us may continue to build upon it.  As Chitue, I believe I will learn a great deal about different facets of the TGIE: its successes, the challenges it faces and the resources necessary to address them.  Throughout my term, I want to take the essence of that learning and share it with the younger generation of Tibetans so that together we acknowledge the accomplishments of the TGIE, while also contributing to address the challenges it faces. 

(2) What would you do as Chitue to best represent the interests of Tibetans in North America? 

I believe the role of Chitue is that of both a parliamentarian and constituency representative. As a parliamentarian, one is an ombudsman, a facilitator who deals with community concerns about government. He or she examines the work of the government, how it spends public funds; and contributes to debates on national issues.  Given the Tibetan political context, the limited human and financial resources to support the official responsibilities of a member of parliament, a Chitue must be strategic and innovative when undertaking initiatives and investing efforts. A collaborative attitude, and strong communication skills are essential for this role 

To represent a group, one must be accessible and actively engaged with members of that group to understand their concerns.  So, on a practical level, I would begin with the basic following steps: 

  • Discuss and elaborate overall approach with the other North American Chitue.  Coordination and collaboration between the two North American Chitues is essential if they are to represent and address the concerns of the constituency effectively;
  • Meet with the outgoing Chitue, Tenzing Chonden la, for advice and build upon his considerable experience and knowledge acquired over a decade of service;
  • Meet with the Office of Tibet in New York to understand its relationship with the Chitues, avoid duplication of efforts and complement each other’s functions with regards to the Tibetan community;
  • Establish and publicize Chithue/constituent communication channel(s);
  • Have a thorough understanding of parliamentary procedures, Tibetan Charter and its amendments.

During the five-year term as Chitue, my current plans include, but not limited, to the following actions: 

  • Create a web site based on community survey results indicating  what its members wish in terms of content and functions;
  • Establish and maintain a collaborative relationship with other parliamentarians and government offices;
  • As much as possible, be present and accessible at key community events with different subgroups to hear their concerns and ideas e.g. conference of Tibetan associations, Students for Free Tibet, Global Tibetan Professional Network;
  • Work in close partnership with all the North American Tibetan communities through their local associations and the Office of Tibet to keep abreast of regional concerns and suggestions;
  • Personally visit as many communities as possible based on available financial resources and time.


(3) What do you see are the short term (1-5 years) priorities of the Parliament-in-Exile and what would you do as Chitue to deal with those priorities? 

Note:  Priorities of the Parliament-in-exile should reflect issues related to the collective interest of the Tibetan community as well as specific concerns affecting different groups, beyond the North American Diaspora.  As such, it is difficult to answer question (3) and (4) thoroughly, based solely on one’s personal understanding of events and interpretation of official information intended for the general public.  Nonetheless, I am presenting a few preliminary thoughts.  Some, if not all, are likely to be issues the TGIE is already addressing.  As Chitue, I would support initiatives to address these issues, and for unaddressed issues, try to understand why, and take it from there. 

I understand short-term priorities to mean issues that need to be addressed within 5 years and long-term priorities as issues to be raised now, but that will take several years to address adequately or should remain an on-going concern. 

  • Improved communication with the Tibetan community.  Strengthen existing communication tools/platforms to render information readily available for Tibetan community members who wish to learn more about what the TGIE’s role and activities.  The information should be more detailed than what is currently available.   
  • Leadership training and transition.  Be proactive in engaging Tibetan youth through the development of opportunities such as structured volunteer programs and, field visits.  If such opportunities already do exist, publicize them more broadly.  Ideally, a Section within a department should be created to plan and implement Tibetan youth outreach initiatives.   Such efforts can have a significant positive impact on the future of our community.
  • Electoral process.  This current election has been the object of unprecedented public interest and participation.  It has also raised several important issues that need to be addressed, by the next elections, for example:
    • public education about the electoral process, parliamentary system, etc.
    • lead time prior to election for the announcement of candidates
    • campaign finances
    • voting and registration schedules adapted to local context
    • voter participation and safety in hostile host countries such as Nepal/Bhutan
      • Greenbook.  Promptly address and document issues related to the Green Book in light of its symbolic meaning and main source of direct revenue to the TGIE from the Tibetan diaspora.

    (4) What do you see are the long term (5-10+ years) priorities of the Parliament-in-Exile and what would you do as Chitue to deal with those priorities? 

    See Note for Question (3).  Below are some preliminary thoughts. 

    • Sino-Tibetan relations.  Maintain current efforts while also monitoring progress, and, if deemed necessary and timely, re-evaluate our approach.
    • Support for Tibetans inside Tibet.  Maintain current efforts. Evaluate their effectiveness, and improve as necessary. 
    • Human resources.  Recruitment and retention of public service personnel in the TGIE is a severe problem.  If this issue has already been investigated and documented, we need to share its findings with the Tibetan community.  It is a serious issue that should be addressed as a community, and not left to be shouldered solely by individuals in Dharamsala.  A solution to such problem is not simple, but perhaps volunteer programs with Tibetan professionals as participants, could be of some assistance.
    • Tibetan settlements.  With the current depopulation trend, this issue has been an on-going concern for the TGIE.  As North American, I will support whatever solutions are deemed viable by individuals who know those communities well.
    • Credibility of the TGIE with Tibetans inside Tibet and with diaspora’s younger generation.  I elaborate on this point in Question (5).
    • Tibetan educational system.  Maintain current efforts to address issues such as teaching methodology, teacher training, and a pilot-project for Tibetan-medium education.
      • Greenbook.  Promptly address and document issues related to the Green Book in light of its symbolic meaning and main source of direct revenue to the TGIE from the Tibetan diaspora.
    • Tibet support groups.  Encourage and support Tibet support groups.  They play an important role in ensuring Tibet is not forgotten, especially in countries with no or few Tibetans.

    (5) What do you see are the greatest issues or problems currently facing the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and what recommendations would you make to deal with those issues? 

    • Tibetan public’s limited understanding of the parliamentary system and the importance of electing the qualified individuals as parliamentarians (Chitues).  Through the mandate of the Election Commission, perhaps this issue can be partly addressed with a well-planned public education campaign (particularly in India and Nepal as the majority of Chitues are from that region) about the parliamentary system, its key actors, and their role and responsibilities. The expression ‘qualified individual’, in this context, means at the onset someone who understands the moral responsibility that comes with serving as parliamentarian at this point in our history, and behaves in a way that is respectful of that office.
    • Credibility of the TGIE with Tibetans inside Tibet.  Without the moral authority of His Holiness, credibility and respect for the TGIE from Tibetans in Tibet is uncertain.  Collectively, we must make greater efforts to attract qualified individuals into our government system, particularly as members of parliament who are directly elected by the general population.  With a growing number of well-educated Tibetans inside Tibet, the quality of discourse held by the TGIE is subject to stronger critical analysis.  The TGIE must ensure its policies and statements with regards to the situation in Tibet are based on rigorous research. In preparation for the absence of His Holiness, the TGIE’s potential role goes well beyond administrative and political, it should be a beacon of hope for Tibetans inside Tibet.


    • Credibility of the TGIE with the diaspora’s younger generation.  Both in India and the West, the number of educated young Tibetans is increasing rapidly.  Their expectations from the TGIE are much higher than their parents’.  They want greater accountability and transparency.  If the TGIE is faced with various impediments to respond to such expectations, it must be communicated clearly so that solutions can be sought collectively.
    • Human resources.  I elaborate on this issue in Question (4). 

    (6) What changes, if any, would you recommend concerning the Parliament-in-Exile?  Examples could be in the term of office for Chitues or the current regional make-up of the Chitue representatives? 

    For the moment, I do not have any changes to recommend.    

    On a practical level, a simple wish would be for new members of parliament to receive an orientation if this is not already an on-going practice, and that the biographical summary for each member of parliament be distributed to all parliamentarians.  This information will prove useful for the election of Standing Committee members as it is unlikely that all 47 new members will be familiar with each other’s background.  

    (7) What amendments, if any, in the Charter for Tibetan Exiles would you recommend? 

    For the moment, I do not have any amendments to recommend.     

    (8) How do you think His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s retirement from politics would affect the Tibetan struggle and what suggestions would you make to the Exile Government for handling the issue of His Holiness’ retirement from politics? 

    Although His Holiness has significantly reduced his political role during the last few years, his imminent further retirement from Tibetan politics still strikes a deep emotional chord within our community.  The best way for the TGIE to handle the issue of His Holiness’ retirement from politics is to make deliberate efforts now to operate in an autonomous manner, with all due respect to His Holiness, without soliciting  his participation and input.  Establishing confidence amongst Tibetans that the TGIE can function effectively without His Holiness’s involvement will help alleviate some concerns.   

    (9) What are your views towards the Middle Way Policy (Ume Lam) and rangzen for Tibet?  Do you support either one or something else and why? 

    I support the Middle Way Policy.  Under the current circumstances, I believe this is policy that is most reflective of the wishes of Tibetans inside Tibet.  Over time, however, we may collectively decide it is in our best interest to envisage other policy options more seriously. 

    (10) Is there anything else you would like to tell voters, either about yourself or the issues, on why they should vote for you as a North American Chitue? 

    As a member of the first Tibetan generation raised in North America, I believe our generation must start taking greater responsibility and interest in our community’s governance structure and related issues. This will help ensure the long-term well-being of our community, a shared common vision, and optimal strategic use of our resources. 
    A common thread throughout my life has been a constant self-introspection as a Tibetan. What can I do as one individual for Tibet? Where can I be most effective? What skills and body of knowledge do I need to be a better advocate for our cause? It is such self-questioning that has led me to study the Tibetan language, spend a year in China to learn Mandarin, and begin work in Tibet 11 years ago. I would be honoured to have the privilege to bring this level of focus, dedication and hard work to the position of Chitue. 
    This coming election is not only about electing individuals with the right motivation and skills for public office, but also about giving ourselves, as Tibetans, renewed hope and determination to venture forth with courage and wisdom. 
    Ideas and opinions are easily generated. We must now take concrete steps and participate in realizing those ideas.   I am often asked what I learned during my years in Tibet.  The lessons were many, but in my heart of hearts it is that ours is a mighty fight for our very right to exist as a people.  It is a one-time deal. We must pay attention now, we might not get second chance.

    Dicki Chhoyang 

    For readers wishing to learn more about me, you may visit my web site:  www.dickichhoyang.org