Promoting multiparty system
Interview with Karma Yeshi*, December 2006

issue : AT n°2 - 2007
author: Karma Yeshi
file : Democracy
other language: French

[*Karma Yeshi: Tibetan deputy (U-Tsang), former vice-President of Tibetan Youth Congress (1995-2001), co-founder of the National Democratic Party of Tibet (1994)]

Q: In March 2004, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) passed a resolution to review the exile administration's policy of Middle Way Approach if no positive response from China came by March 2005. Would it not be opportune now to reformulate and to implement a such resolution?

K.Y: The main content of that very resolution is to empower parliamentarians to review ongoing process of dialogue. That resolution is not anti middle way policy. It is rather a sign of urgency in resolving our issue. Time is running out for us. We are already minority in our own country -Tibet. Our culture, language, identity and the very existence of Tibet is in great threat. That resolution could be used as a pressure from TPiE to the People's Republic of China. Our dialogue team could make best use out of it.

Whether there are more young parliamentarians in TPiE or not, resolution to Tibet issue is our main target. We need to resolve our problem as soon as we could. We have no time. As stated above, tabling such resolution is need of the time. Looking at the attitude and sincerity of Chinese leadership, we can no longer trust them any more.

Q: This resolution was withdrawn in September 2004 in a context of great tension. Two regional associations threatened to resign from the Assembly if the resolution was not withdrawn. Aren't the regional corporatism and the traditional rifts an obstacle in the democratic process, especially to the detriment of ideas discussion and capacity of decision?

K.Y: A group of parliamentarians tabled a resolution in September, 2004. The content of this resolution is just to withdraw a middle way approach review resolution passed in previous session in March 2004. In fact this is a sign of democracy. You can lobby your parliamentarian colleagues and bring amendments to the policy now and then.

The second resolution of September 2004 was tabled by our colleagues in bit hurry without giving proper respect to the previous resolution. Those who are against first resolution could have waited till March, 2005 and let TPiE have open debate or discussion on the process of review. It would have at least given a platform for more discussions on middle way policy.

You cannot just generalize and say that second resolution was a sign of regional politics within TPiE. Apart from three overseas TPiE members, rest is elected through this door of provincial/regional and religious sects. If you smell any regional politics, we must change the very system of our election. Whether there are any regional politics or not; if this very system of election is not changed, others will just look at it with same eyes.

This TPiE represents both Tibetans in and outside Tibet. We are seeking freedom for Tibet consisting of all three provinces. From this angle, it has some meaning in present election system.

Q: During the last elections, you were elected with the support of the list 'Youth for better MPs'. This initiative, which came from a group of young electors, proposed a list of nominees and a political draft over the traditional rifts. Shouldn't a such initiative come from the nominees themselves and become the beginning of a real political party, indeed an opening on multiparty system?

K.Y: I won the last election not only because of this initiative by 'Youth for better MPs' alone. There are so many other groups who took active participation in every election. Initiatives of proposing nomination lists have been there in our society long time back. It is not just a new or first one.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his future political vision of Tibet, he clearly stated that future Tibet will be ruled by political party system. Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) gave birth to first ever political party called National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) in 1994. This is a big initiative undertaken by TYC.

If we are looking for future democratic Tibet, every TPiE members must support this lone party to grow up to its fullest capacity. Those who do not agree with the political manifesto of NDPT must take initiative to give birth to another party and let Tibetan democracy grow for ever.

The present system of our parliament is party less. All members have to take both roles of ruling as well as opposition. Can a member effectively take both roles? I think it's a big question mark.

I am always in support of political party system. But, not more than three parties. Through this political party system, we can keep constant check and balance on our parliamentarians too.

Q: Are you ready to form a political party or a parliamentary group to make Rangzen represented at TPiE?

K.Y: I have my share of contribution in the formation of NDPT. I strongly support its manifesto and political stand. NDPT stands for Rangzen. I do not necessarily have to form a party. Those who do not agree with the political ideology of NDPT can form another party. In fact it is important to bring support to political party system and bring changes in our election system too.

Q: So are you yourself a deputy of the NDPT and are there other deputies from this party in the new elected Assembly? Can we imagine that, in next elections, the NDPT will present a common list of nominees?

K.Y: I have been nominated by many groups - like NDPT, Youth for Better MPs, and some others too. When these different groups nominate somebody for parliamentarian candidates, it is just a group of lists for the public to think over it.   You can not generalize that he or she is a deputy of that group or this group just because he or she is nominated by group A or B.

There are many elected deputies, who are nominated by NDPT as well as others too - like me. In which category you would like to put them in? Putting them in this category or that category is difficult.

NDPT will definitely present a common list of nominee for next election as before. Others will also present their nomination lists too. All these nominations are just lists of nominees by different NGOs or groups for people to think over it.

The main issue is formation of one or two more political parties and getting them endorsed by the parliament as well as Tibetan election commission.

Interview conducted by Mathieu Vernerey