In the seventh session of the Tibetan Parliament held in March, 2004, the august House adopted and passed a private member's proposed resolution which called for a review of the current Tibetan Government policy of the 'Middle Path' approach a year later if, in the meantime, the Chinese side failed to start formal negotiations to solve the long-standing Tibetan problem. The resolution caused an uproar in a section of our people and the debate that ensued was also mainly one-sided because the Tibetan Parliament chiefly responsible for passing the resolution by a majority vote or its immediate representative - the Standing Committee, failed to educate the public about the reasons for its collective action. To look at the other side of the coin, those who are opposing the said resolution, have put forward two main reasons - that it undermines the powers of H.H. The Dalai-Lama ; and that the Middle Path policy being the best way out for the Tibetans, nothing should be done to change it.
As to the first argument, it is sad that normally people who lack in original ideas find it very convenient to seek refuge behind the name of His Holiness The Dalai-Lama. His holiness has banned this trend amongst those holding positions in the government but it is still prevalent among many who like to count themselves as leaders in our society. But on the other hand, if the sacred name of His Holiness is deliberately misused in order to gather support or worse still, to achieve one's vested interests, then it would amount to a very serious matter. The resolution in question only calls for a review of the Middle Path policy with preconditions, at the Parliament level. His Holiness as the Head of State, and Government is above Parliament - institutionally. The question of the powers and prerogatives of the Dalai-Lama will come into play only after the Parliament presents the results of its actions to Him for His acceptance or rejection. At its own level, Parliament is fully competent to carry out its functions as stipulated in the Charter. Therein, the roles of each democratic institutions are clearly spelt out with the basic principle of non-interference in mind. Parliament is the supreme law-making body and formulating national policy is its pivotal function. Moreover, without invoking Article 31/1-b of the Charter, nobody can change or undermine the powers of the Dalai-Lama. Therefore the present outcry is like the proverbial worry of the rabbit that the sky may fall down.
H.H. The Dalai-Lama gave democracy to the Tibetan people on his own initiative. During the last 44 years of its development in exile, He has always looked for opportunities to delegate his powers to the people thorough the democratic institutions. We believe that His Holiness sees this as central to the healthy development of Tibetan democracy. Therefore the least that we can do in return is not to make Him look like a power-sensitive person by refraining from making the same a public issue. The second point is also usually inter-linked with the first by many people for reasons that are untenable - to say the least. If the Middle Path is the best way out then why did nearly 65% of our people chose to ignore it as one of the four options offered in the Referendum process? We all know that in the preliminary voting of the Referendum, the over whelming majority chose to mandate His Holiness to decide, on the basis of the on-going political changes of the time.
The on-going Middle Path policy came into being after the then Chinese supreme leader Deng-Xiaoping set the precondition that we should abandon the demand for independence. For the last 24 years, our leadership has been sincerely trying to hammer out a compromise solution but from the Chinese side, there has always been deceit, double-dealing and delaying tactics so that we have not even managed to make the beginning of a meaningful dialogue. Many thinking Tibetans, Tibetan supporters and China-watchers have now come to honestly conclude that the Chinese have no intention to conduct negotiations. They are only biding time for the Dalai-Lama to pass away and in the meantime evade international pressure and condemnation by indulging in the periodical delegation diplomacy. It is vitally important that we Tibetans should not fall prey to their devious ploys.
Another important matter to be taken into consideration is the so-called Chinese 'White Paper' of May last. With the finality of the tone and tenor of that document, all out hopes for a negotiated settlement on the lines of the One-Nation-Two-Systems theory of Hong Kong and Macao or a genuine autonomy have been dashed irrevocably. The only choice given to the Tibetans is to accept the arrangement under Tibet Autonomous Region as the best one and return. This, surely, is not the answer to the Middle Path! The Chinese 'White Paper', in one go, has fully rejected what the Tibetan government has been trying to achieve during the last nearly 25 years through that policy. Therefore a rethinking on the part of our leadership is called for whether we like it or not.
In the past also, the Middle Path policy had been reviewed twice. The first time was when the then Kashag found it necessary to issue an open statement on September 2, 1991 withdrawing the Strasbourg Proposal 'because of the closed and negative attitude' of the Chinese leadership and secondly when His Holiness initiated the Referendum for the people to decide the future course of action.
Thus, the present resolution is nothing new or surprising. Infact, the need to review the Middle Path policy has become more urgent and relevant after the issuance of the Chinese 'White Paper'.
Rangzen Editorial, September 2004