Friday, May 20, 2011

Charter Redrafting Committee Report and the Kalon Tripa

Old Article in the Charter for Tibetans in Exile

New Article in the proposal:
Title: Article 21 - Election of Kalon Tripa
"In accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Election Commission, finalized by the Tibetan Parliament in-Exile, the Kalon Tripa shall be elected by the Tibetan people via the general election. Tibetan people shall have the right to exercise their vote and the elected Kalon Tripa shall accept the position".

This is not a perfect translation from the original Tibetan version. However, the essence of what I will be trying to communicate shall be good enough from the above not-so-good but doable translation.

Earlier, I was in the belief that everything on Kalon Tripa's election comes under the purview of the Tibetan Election Commission's specific rules and regulations. I did communicate with the current Chief Election Commissioner a while ago on the same matter that I will be focusing below. However, with this new proposal in the charter, I see a new hope in bringing a fundamental change in the Kalon Tripa's future election.

In the past three Kalon Tripa's election, all elected Kalon Tripa received a simple majority (i.e., 51%  of the total votes casted). We can democratically say, "Kalon Tripa is a choice of the Tibetan people". However, if we wish to continue to say this, I see a need for change in the report.

While skimming the report, I sensed a conflict in the Kalon Tripa's administration i.e., a conflict to consider it as a prime ministerial style of administration or presidential style of administration. If my perspectives on the report are correct, I sensed that when it comes to responsibility, Kalon Tripa tends to lean more towards prime ministerial style of administration. However, when it comes to power, Kalon Tripa tends to lean more toward presidential style of administration.

Coming back to the election of Kalon Tripa, the new article in the report doesn't align well with either prime ministerial style of government or presidential style of government. For instance, in India, a coalition party, to form a government headed by Prime Minister, needs to win the general election with a simple majority in the house of parliament. In the United States, a presidential candidate needs a simple majority in the primary election to win the presidential post. However, very strangely, Kalon Tripa needs no simple majority to win a general election (Simple majority = 51% of the total votes casted).

Now, let me put it in another way with an example. Election Commission announces six candidates for the Kalon Tripa's final election based on the results of preliminary election. All six candidates stand for the final election. Candidate A receives 20% of the total votes casted, candidate B-18%, candidate C-12%, candidate D-19%, candidate E-23%, and candidate F-8%. Under the present charter (and rules and regulations of the EC), in this scenario, candidate E wins the Kalon Tripa election with a mere 23 percentage of the total votes casted. Now, is Kalon Tripa a choice of the Tibetan people? Can Kalon Tripa be a choice of the majority? Isn't majority of voices the voice of democracy? There are many more questions to ask about. For me, this is fundamentally unacceptable.

Some believe that if Kalon Tripa fails to receive a simple majority, then, the whole re-election is a pain. Since Tibetans directly elect Kalon Tripa, I did a little research on the presidential election of the United States and I really liked it. There is a no need for re-election. In the United States, if no presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes (i.e. 51%), the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 presidential candidates who received the most electoral votes. Each State delegation has one vote. In our case, it could be members of the parliament.

Therefore, what I wish to see in the new proposed article in the report is something that ties the election of Kalon Tripa with the need of a simple majority of the total votes casted in the general election.

Again, I may be wrong. Please feel free to correct me. I highly encourage everyone to at least read the report once. If time permits, I will be rereading it again and will jump in with a note if I found anything to discuss with you. Lets make our charter a charter of the people. :)

*To read my earlier note on the same report, go to this link

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