Then we had debates, and interest started generating. The other candidates were seen as insiders, and me as the outside candidate. And then one thing led
to another and people voted for me. It became more of an election of personalities than policies.
The Dalai Lama pulled all of his authority right at the same time. Before, the job was a lot simpler because you could just get a paper signed by him and
show it to Tibetans and say, "don't criticize this." But then, His Holiness said, "you're on your own." And I thought, "Oh my goodness, what did I bargain
I took it as my karma. I started moving forwarded, doing the best I can.
How could the "one country, two systems" mechanism that's in place in Hong Kong and Macau work for Tibet? What types of liberties or rights do you hope
would come through that type of autonomy?
Ideally, you want as much freedom as possible. But realistically we would like something in the middle of repression and separation. Ongoing repression is
unbearable. At the same time we are not seeking separation from China.
There is a racial element to this. The Chinese government is giving autonomy to Hong Kong and Macau; the message seems to be that for Tibetans, we don't
trust you. The Chinese constitution clearly says the Tibetan language should be encouraged, and Tibetan culture should be promoted. We want Tibetans to
administer their own regime.
Has the fact that you are no longer pushing for full separation resulted in any dissatisfaction among Tibetan exiles?
There are some Tibetans who believe independence is our birthright, and historically speaking, they are right. How we deal with that is that we are a
democratic society, and we are all entitled to our own views -- we try to maintain it as difference of views, but not divisions.
Do you think there will be a solution to the Tibet issue within the lifetime of the current Dalai Lama?
Yes. Otherwise why would I leave my job at Harvard and go to Dharamsala? You have to always walk with hope that tomorrow will be different and better. If
that hope disappears, then I think it's a very lonely place. You have to believe that he will be able to return to Tibet during his lifetime.
The Tibetan struggle has been going on for so long ... how has it changed over time?
Our elder generation were sincere, dedicated, hardworking, they sacrificed a lot. We have to continue that tradition and build on it, with modern
education, exposure, and the understanding that we have. The traditional ethos and the modern know-how -- you have to have both. People are engaged from
different countries and different backgrounds -- that is a challenge. Before, everyone was on the same page.
The situation inside Tibet has also gone from bad to worse. Before, there were protests, now there are self-immolations. The Chinese government is more
powerful militarily and economically. But you have to keep the spirit and solidarity of Tibetans inside Tibet strong, and united with the spirit outside of
Tibet also. We have to keep pressing the Chinese government to enter dialogue with Tibetans. And at the same time we have to invest in nonviolence and
democracy, and hope that Chinese leaders will realize that repressive policies toward Tibet are not working.