Lobsang Sangay - Governmental Career

Governmental Career

On 10 March 2011, the Dalai Lama proposed changes to the exile charter which would remove his position of authority within the organisation and devolve his political power to the elected leader, thus making the Kalön Tripa (or Chief Minister) the highest-ranking officeholder. These changes were ratified on 29 May 2011, even though, according to Sangay, there was “a high level of anxiety among Tibetans” over the Dalai Lama's decision to relinquish his own political authority.

On April 27, 2011 Sangay was elected Kalön Tripa of the Tibetan Government in Exile. Sangay won 55% of the votes, defeating Tenzin Tethong (37.4%) and Tashi Wangdi (6.4%). 83,400 Tibetan were eligible to vote and 49,000 ballots were cast. He will succeed Lobsang Tenzin as the head of the Tibetan Government in Exile. On August 8, 2011, Sangay officially took the oath of office, succeeding Lobsang Tenzin as Kalön Tripa. In a statement at the time, the Dalai Lama referred to Lobsang Sangay as Sikyong; and the title was officially changed from Kalön Tripa to Sikyong in September, 2012.

In his role as Sikyong, Sangay has emphasized the importance of seeking a peaceful, non-violent resolution of the Tibet issue. He has supported the Dalai Lama's call for a so-called “Middle Way” approach “that would provide for genuine autonomy for Tibet within the framework of Chinese constitution.” Noting that China has established “one country, two systems” mechanisms in Hong Kong and Macau, he has argued that it makes no sense for China to continue to resist a similar solution for Tibet, which, he emphasizes, would be a “win-win” result.

In February 2013, he gave the first annual lecture of the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondence. Expressing concern about the possible ripple effects of recent acts of armed rebellion in west Asia, he called for the international community to strengthen its endorsement of non-violent approaches to oppression. “If non-violence is the right thing to do,” he emphasized, “we ought to be supported by the international community.” Noting the media attention given to armed Syrian “freedom fighters,” he said: “Tibetans have been democratic and non-violent for the last so many decades, how come we don't receive similar support and attention?”

Sangay made a statement on 10 March 2013, the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, in which he paid tribute to the “yearning for freedom” that inspired “the epochal events of March 10, 1959,” and dedicated the anniversary of those events “to all the self-immolators and those who have died for Tibet.” He also restated his dedication to the “Middle Way Approach,” expressing hope that a “speedy resolution” by China of the Tibet issue could “serve as a model for other freedom struggles” and “be a catalyst for moderation of China.”

Sangay has been married for 13 years to Kesang Yangdon Shakchang, whose parents were from the Lhokha and Phare area. They have a three-year-old daughter. His father died in 2004.

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