Exiled Tibetans elected a 43-year-old Harvard academic to replace the Dalai Lama in his role as political leader of Tibet. As prime minister, Lobsang Sangay's got a lot on his plate: lobby for greater autonomy from China and improve the livelihood of Tibetans in and outside of China. So who is this guy and is he up to the task? Here's some fast facts on Tibet's new political leader:
Bio Sangay was born in 1968 in Darjeeling, India and has never been to Tibet. He came to the U.S. in 1995 and became the first Tibetan to obtain a Masters degree and doctorate in law from Harvard Law School. He routinely visits Dharamsala, where Tibet's exhiled government is headquartered, and rubs shoulders with Tibetan officials.
Early Press Reception CNN and the AFP describe Sangay as a skilled "international law expert" who earned 55 percent of the vote. Harvard Law School is proudly trumpeting a number of Sangay's early accomplishments at the University including winning the Yong K Kim Prize for fostering understanding between the U.S. and East Asia and holding meetings between mainland Chinese scholars and the Dalai Lama. As expected, China's state newspaper the People's Daily is no friend of Sangay. When rumors circulated in March that he was expected to succeed the Dalai Lama the paper ran the headline "Terrorist poised to rule 'Tibetan government in-exile'?" The article compares Sangay to Al-Qaeda for being affiliated with the Tibetan Youth Congress, a group it considers a terrorist organization. "Lobsang Sangay also despises the Dalai Lama's 'middle way,'" writes the author, "and calls for 'self determination', a term often used by young radicals pressing for Tibet independence."
Words from Voters The Wall Street Journal's IndiaRealTime site speaks with Tibetans in India about their feelings toward Sangay and their aspirations. “If he wins I will be a little bit disappointed. He is too young,” says a 22-year-old Buddhist monk. Because Sangay has been living in the U.S. for the passed 16 years and has little experience in government, some don't trust him. "I am worried," says a 40-year-old Buddhist nun. She says the Dalai Lama "is the only one who can lead us." Still others, and the majority of voters, say Sangay's election is an important step for Tibet. "We are proving we are a democracy," says a 22-year-old Buddhist monk.