By L. Amdo
To promote transparency, TPR invites campaign updates from all candidates.
December 17, Vienna, Virginia, USA: A large number of supporters, former colleagues from Central Tibetan Administration and friends of Kalon Tripa candidate Tenzin Namgyal Tethong gathered here tonight to express strong support for his candidacy and raise funds for his campaign. Many Tibetans in the Washington, DC area who had served with the Tibetan government in exile previously felt that since they, as a group, are most familiar with Tethong’s record of public service over a long period of time, they should be the ones to more speak openly about his accomplishments, foresight, experience and dedication to implementing His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision for Tibetan people.
In his remarks to the audience, Tenzin Tethong felt compelled to explain why he is in the running by saying: “I believe there is no one amongst us who does not wish to serve His Holiness. As a Tibetan, we will never forego an opportunity to work for our cause. However, the responsibility of serving as Kalon Tripa is not something to be taken lightly. It is not something where you say, ‘You do it. Or, if you don’t, I will.’” Tethong said that many Tibetans, who served with distinction, both within the Government and in other fields, urged him to run for Kalon Tripa this time around. He said: “So I don’t take the decision to run lightly. If you look at my past record, you will see that I have the abilities needed to perform in this role. If you know my nature and character, you can see that I am someone who had always worked to solve people’s need in a thoughtful and creative manner, and with a long-term perspective.”
Tethong said some supporters wanted him to make some dramatic campaign promises as a way to get attention and votes. But he declined to resort to such tactics saying, “We must not forsake our decency, especially when tempted, as during a competitive campaign. These are values borne out of our religious teachings and upbringing.” He laid out his future agenda as building capabilities of the Tibetan people and to prepare for the coming challenges to the Tibetan society.
Speakers representing a cross-section of the community expressed their support for his Kalon Tripa candidacy, and urged Tibetans all over to see for their own his record and dedication to serving the Tibetan people when making their decision to on whom to vote. Namkha Tenzin, a former member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, said he was one of those who urged Tethong to run because he felt that given his experience, ability and record, he can best lead us in the challenging times ahead.
Another speaker, Tenzin Lhundup, who grew up in Tibet recalled meeting Tenzin Tethong there during his visit in 1980 as the leader of the 2nd Fact Finding delegation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. “The Chinese warned us not to get close to him, which made us all the more curious to know him”, he said. “Then later at Gaden Monastery, I saw him in tears and unable to speak, amidst its ruins. It moved me very much, and I felt here is someone who can feel the pain of the Tibetan people and make a difference for our cause”.
Karma Gyalsten, a former member of Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) recalled Tethong’s contribution as a pioneering official who helped pull off TIPA’s first ever trip, under trying circumstances, to the US, Europe, Singapore and Australia. This helped set the trend for the performance tours, now a routine, to various parts of the world by Tibetan artists and monks which helped popularize Tibetan culture and promote its understanding.
Event organizers made a presentation highlighting candidate Tethong’s leadership over the years and commitment to serving the public. His foresight and vision were evident even in the early years of exile, in establishing institutions like the Tibetan Youth Congress, and starting publications like Sheja and Tibetan Review. These formed the foundation of a basic civil society in which an educated and politically aware public began to be able to contribute to their struggle against the Chinese in a more effective manner. Tethong’s later projects and initiatives, especially in the US, helped lay the foundation for taking the Tibetan struggle to the next level, that is, making it international and global. His involvement in setting up ICT, Tibet Fund and US Tibet Committee and initial lobbying of the US Congress and government resulted in setting up of the VOA and RFA Tibetan services, Fulbright Scholarships, and the US Resettlement projects. Their benefits to the community, politically as well as socially and financially, continue to this day. These are a clear testament to Tethong’s ability to not only think big and long-term but also deliver on and implement them. His ability and dedication to serve His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the Tibetan people is proven.
Organizers took pride in the fact that a fundraiser for a Tibetan election campaign, a novelty, could held within the community. It is sign of our democratic evolution - in an election in which, for the first time, candidates are voluntarily and openly seeking and campaigning for the most important secular office in Tibetan society. The members of the public are now learning that actively supporting and helping their own candidate of choice is the next level of involvement.
Tethong’s friends, former colleagues and supporters felt that raising funds for the campaign was the need of the hour and contributed $5,500 altogether during the night. They felt that the resource was needed to enable the candidate to visit Tibetan population centers, settlements and monasteries all over India as well as in Nepal. They felt confident that if Tezin Tethong can meet the voters in person and get to tell them of his record of service, commitment, dedication and experience, and his vision for the future, their candidate can prevail.