Thursday, October 15, 2015

Results and Analysis: Online Opinion Poll on 2016 Sikyong's Preliminary Election


The purpose of this online survey is to provide eligible Tibetan electorates with scientific and non-biased opinion poll designed to measure general public's view on their choice of candidates for the 2016 Sikyong's preliminary election.


  • The poll opened on August 10, 2015 and closed on October 1, 2015
  • The poll was shared using Google Form to collect the data via Facebook wall post and group posts
  • Per survey administrator's understanding, these Facebook groups represent a larger section of general public.
  • When the poll was shared on survey administrator's Facebook wall post, no individual were tagged in the post to minimize response biases. On the survey request, clear information were provided in terms of anonymity.
  • The online poll carried only 7 questionnaire items with one on participant's eligibility; one on participant's vote; and the remaining five on participant's demographic.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.   Of the 956 total responses, 924 (97%) respondents were Tibetan and eligible to vote. This result is based on these 924 responses.

Figure 2.
Figure 2.   Of the 924 responses, Lobsang Sangay received 50% of the total vote counts while Penpa Tsering received 22% followed by Lukar Jam at 15% and Tashi Wangdu at 13%.

Figure 3.
 Figure 3.   Based on this online opinion poll, male Tibetans seem to take greater interest in the Tibetan preliminary election for 2016 Sikyong.

Percentage of Participants by Age Group
Figure 4.
 Figure 4.    More than 70% of the participants were younger than 40.

 Percentage of Participants by Country of Residence
Figure 5.
 Figure 5.   More than 50% of the participants were from North America and India.  However, a large portion of participants chose to remain unknown.

Figure 6.
 Figure 6.    63% of the participants have at least Bachelor degree. While 90% of the participants have at least graduated High School. Only 1% have no education at all and 7% some education.  

Figure 7.

Figure 7.    A total of 546 participants are employed while 119 attends college, 36 are either unemployed or not working, 29 are either monk or nun and 173 consider themselves as others.


Who are the supporters of Lobsang Sangay?

Figure 8.

Figure 9. 

Figure 10.

Figure 11.

Figure 12. 

Who are the supporters of Penpa Tsering?

Figure 13.

Figure 14.

Figure 15.

Figure 16.

Figure 17.

Who are the supporters of Lukar Jam?

Figure 18.

Figure 19.

Figure 20.

Figure 21.

Figure 22.

Who are the supporters of Tashi Wangdu?

Figure 23. 

Figure 24.

Figure 25.

Figure 26.

Figure 27.

Something to think about?

Figure 28.
Figure 29.

If you closely look at figure 28 and 29 above, among the two country of residence having the largest vote share in this opinion poll, there seems to be a shift in female participation.  Female in North America tends to take more interest in the 2016 Sikyong preliminary election than those in India.

Figure 30.
Looking at figure 30, participants having no formal education tend to support Lukar Jam (50%) and Penpa Tsering (40%).

Figure 31.
From the above figure, participants having highest educational qualification (i.e. Doctorate Degree such as Ph.D) tend to support Penpa Tsering (41%) the most, followed by Lukar Jam (27%) and Lobsang Sangay (27%).


Lobsang Sangay, incumbent Sikyong of Central Tibetan Administration, tops the opinion poll with a whopping margin of 28% from the second candidate Penpa Tsering, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in-Exile. Penpa Tsering (22%) is followed by Lukar Jam at 15% and Tashi Wangdu at 13%. As the fifth candidate for Sikyong Tashi Topgyal declared after the opening of this poll, he was not in the list of 2016 Sikyong candidates.  However, in the future opinion poll, his name will be included.

Figure 32.
Among others, one vote was for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and two for Samdhong Rinpoche.  It's important to note that these two voters for Samdhong Rinpoche seem to understand that Tibetans can elect Samdhong Rinpoche for the third time as per the rules of Tibetan Election Commission.

If you take a closer look at the supporters of each candidates,  you will understand the gaps.  These gaps could be filled by any candidate if he gears his future campaign towards targeting these group of eligible voters.

Based on the findings of this online opinion poll, it's projected that Lobsang Sangay will emerge as the winner of 2016 Sikyong's preliminary election.  He will be followed by Penpa Tsering, Tashi Wangdu, Lukar Jam and Tashi Topgyal respectively.

Figure 33.


Online surveys are not without limitations. Some of the limitations of this online nomination survey are:

1. Participations of eligible Tibetan voters with no computer and English language skills were excluded from the study.
2. With no one-time participatory settings for the online poll, a participant could have voted more than one.
3. With Tibetan electorates spread across the world, it was not possible to adopt a good sampling technique. Therefore, the study’s finding cannot be termed as statistically significant.
4. As the fifth candidate for Sikyong Tashi Topgyal declared after the opening of this poll, he was not in the list of 2016 Sikyong candidates. However, in the future opinion poll, his name will be included.


Taking the time and space into consideration, I tried to not pull in too many details and analysis. If you have specific questions, please feel free to leave a comment here.

Note: If you are interested in looking at the raw data, please go to this link

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Are Tibetans in Minnesota right in denying venue for Lukar Jam's public talk?

Many have raised eyebrows over the denial of Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota's (TAFM) cultural center (or community hall) as a venue for the public talk by 2016 Sikyong's candidate Lukar Jam. However, the larger question here is not about the majority of general public's decision to not allow the venue for the purpose of political campaign initiated and supported by Friends of Lukar Jam - Minnesota. Rather, it's more about following the law of the land i.e. what is allowed and not allowed under the regulations that binds TAFM's activities in the United States.

Similar to many other Tibetan associations in North America, TAFM is a registered non-profit organization having a status of exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. When you as an organization applies for the status of section 501(c)(3), you are prohibited or restricted from certain activities. Let me quote from the Internal Revenue Service document:

"No substantial part of the activities of the corporation (for example: TAFM) shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office."

Note: Most non-profit organizations in the United States are incorporated as corporation.

If you would like to read more into the details, please scroll down:

"Prohibited or restricted activities. Certain activities are prohibited or restricted for organizations exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3).  ...organizations exempt under section 501(c)(3) must:

Refrain from supporting or opposing candidates in political campaigns in any way.

An organization exempt under section 501(c)(3) is prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns, including campaigns at the federal, state, and local level.

Political campaign intervention includes any and all activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention. Distributing statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office will also violate the prohibition. Allowing a candidate to use an organization’s assets or facilities will also violate the prohibition if other candidates are not given an equivalent opportunity.

Certain activities will require an evaluation of all the facts and circumstances to determine whether they result in political campaign intervention. For example, section 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to conduct certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) if they are carried out in a non-partisan manner. In addition, section 501(c)(3) organizations may encourage people to participate in the electoral process through voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities conducted in a biased manner that favors (or opposes) one or more candidates is prohibited." (Source - Internal Revenue Service)

Discussion and Recommendation:

As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Tibetan associations need to understand the rules and regulations that binds the organization.  The violation of this particular "prohibited or restricted activities" may result in the suspension or revocation of 501(c)(3) status.  Moreover, it may also result in the closing down of the non-profit organization itself wherein you lose all organizational assets (including the community hall) to the federal, state or local government. 

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