Friday, June 7, 2013

7 THINGS THE NEW TYC EXECUTIVE MEMBERS SHOULD DO DIFFERENT

The recent TYC General Body meeting concluded with more corrigendum than triumphs.  They were seen in total damage control mode.  They made an apology, they expressed regrets, they nullified earlier statements, and they stabbed their own past resolution.  What prompted them to take these unprecedented actions remains debatable.  The heart of the matter here is that they did admit to the mistakes they made in the past.


The question now is how the new TYC executive members should learn from these itchy experiences and cement the damages inflicted on the organizational authenticity and credibility.  Here are my best seven takes.
Change the organizational aims and objectives
On March 19, 2011, I wrote to editors of the Tibetan Political Review sharing my response to the TYC’s appeal letter to the Members of Tibetan Parliament in Exile.  In this response piece, I highlighted, “One particular aims and objectives of TYC has always been in conflict with what they stand for i.e., complete independence for Tibet.  Among the four, the first aims and objectives of TYC states, ‘To dedicate oneself to the task of serving one’s country and people under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Spiritual and Temporal Ruler of Tibet’.  Did they follow the guidance of the Dalai Lama on Middle Way Approach? I believe every Tibetan has an answer to this.”  The need for this change was further emphasized and magnified by Prof. Samdong Rinpoche during his recent talk at the TYC general body meeting.
Stay away from bad apples
The outgoing TYC members seem to have listened more and supported wholeheartedly to some proponents of rangzen, who has been very vocal and critical of CTA’s middle way policy and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Being vocal doesn’t always mean what they say are right.  TYC should realize that it is a public-supported and -funded organization that has its own functional boundaries.  Rangzen proponents who act on their individual capacity should not represent the voice of TYC.  
Stop vilification of individual Tibetan
In a perfect democracy, there is a respect for differences.  TYC should embrace these differences of opinions whether it comes from rangzen or middle way supporters.  Individual supporting middle way or holding any other political views should not be a subject of vilification from the TYC.  TYC needs to be more open and mature to embrace differences.  
Re-invent the art of protest
The most frequent and popular work of TYC has been and will remain its street protests.  As an umbrella organization, TYC has not issued any form of guidelines for holding and organizing street protests.  As an example, during protests, any individual has an easy access to the bullhorn to create and shout slogans.  Some of these slogans have been very offensive, personal, and uncalled for.   TYC need to re-invent the art of protest by issuing guidelines for all its activities and welcoming innovations to seek maximum participation.  In other words, TYC needs to put structure into their activities including street protests.  To get a better sense, read my earlier piece on the Outlook Tibet “Reinventing the art of protest”.
Learn from Students for Free Tibet (SFT)
SFT earns a high respect for the work they do.  For the sake of this piece, the reason for their popularity may be roughly summed up into two.  First, they act as a unit of highly skilled individuals. They train their members on the art of activism. Generally, they are on the same page on many pressing issues.  Second, they neither challenge Central Tibetan Administration nor the middle way policy.  Their work or activism on seeking independence seems to compliment the struggle for middle way policy.
Elect executive members from Southern Tibetan settlements
Though Southern Tibetan settlements represent the largest pool of TYC membership, they were rarely elected for the post of TYC President.  Members of these settlements may be seeing a growing distance from the TYC.  Likewise, TYC executive members may be having difficult times to understand the needs and interests of its members residing in these settlements.  Either way, TYC as an organization suffers.  The recent walk out by eight members (mostly from southern settlements) from the TYC general body meeting may be an indication.
Lead by example
The biggest difference between Chinese leadership and Tibetan leadership lies in their respect for transparency.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama has repeatedly and openly welcomed the Chinese government to investigate the accusation they put on Central Tibetan Administration and any of the Tibetan exile units.  This clearly indicates that there is nothing from the Tibetan side to hide.  Everything is transparent.  This respect for transparency should also reflect within Tibetan community organizations including TYC.  The work of TYC needs to be transparent not only for the world to see but also for the Tibetan people to understand.  Without transparency, there will always be question asked on the abilities and skills of TYC leadership.  TYC as the largest public organization in exile should lead its people by example.