By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 4 April 2015
Tibet Fund President Rinchen Dharlo refused to grant an interview about Tibet Fund and his role and activities. He has been at the helm of the organisation since 1994.
This reporter requested an interview on 12 August 2013, to which Dharlo replied the next day saying: “Please do send the questions and I will answer them best to my knowledge and hope it makes for good, informative read.”
In a follow-up to his first reply, Dharlo wrote: “Just to follow up on my earlier email. I am wondering if there will be a comment section below the interview? I prefer not to have comments as most of the time it is from prejudiced people with malicious content which are in fact very false.”
I then emailed him the questions. And then sent a dozen more emails and a few phone calls reminding him of the interview. However, an interview was not forthcoming. Dharlo replied six times, mostly with excuses about the delay in answering.
An email sent to Dharlo on 21 April 2014:
Sorry to bother you with this interview but I feel it is important because it involves Tibetan public interests and it is an official’s responsibility to be clear to the public he serves. In case you have no plans to come to India in the near future, I would like this interview by email as I first requested.
Email to Dharlo on 24 July 2014:
I am still looking forward to the interview, which I think could be so useful for Tibetans to know better the functioning of Tibet Fund.
On 11 August 2014, when the interview request turned one year:
It is exactly one year since my request for the interview on 12 August 2013. It would be great if we could do the interview. Could you please tell me how to go about it, when can I expect the answers? Tibet Fund being a prestigious organisation, I am asking these questions in the interest of the Tibetan people.
Over two months later, on 21 October 2014, Dharlo replied:
I believe you are aware that I have shouldered all my administrative responsibilities to Kasur Lobsang Nyandak la who is the Executive Director of the Tibet Fund. Therefore, I would recommend interviewing Kasur Lobsang la instead when he visits Dharamsala sometime in December of this year. I have informed him about your request and hope you will understand my position.
Reply to the above on 9 November 2014:
It’s about one and half year since I requested it. I wanted to get an idea about all that you have done and achieved since your tenure at the Tibet Fund. Therefore, I still request you to answer the questions. I will separately interview Kasur Lobsang Nyandak la when he will have build some profile at the Tibet Fund.
After this Dharlo did not reply to further emails. In a phone call from this reporter on 13 March 2015 he said he will not answer the questions. Then in a final email from this reporter on 23 March 2015:
This is in furtherance of our phone conversation on 13 March, when you declined to do the interview that I have been requesting since 14 August 2013. You said that people have been spreading misinformation about you and your works because of which you didn’t want to do the interview.
The very purpose of this interview is to inform the public of the realities, and therefore, the interview is an opportunity for you to respond to the misinformations.
The Tibet Fund is a service to the Tibetan people and since you have been at the helm of the organisation, I feel that it’s your responsibility to answer questions related to that post and office.
Declining to answer the questions is denying the information as well as the rights of the Tibetan people. I haven’t asked any personal questions, but public interest and related to the Tibet Fund.
I am sending you my ten questions again. If you intend not to answer the questions, I will publish the questions with a note explaining that you have declined to answer them for more than one and half years. I will expect an answer by the end of this week. If none, I will publish on the following week.
Tibet Fund was founded in 1981. According to their website: The Tibet Fund’s mission is to preserve the distinct cultural and national identity of the Tibetan people. Since 1981, under the patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Tibet Fund has been the primary funding organisation for health care, education, refugee rehabilitation, religious and cultural preservation, elder care and community and economic development programmes serving more than 140,000 Tibetan refugees living in India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The questions to Tibet Fund President Rinchen Dharlo are:
- How long have you been at the Tibet Fund as the Director? What do you feel are your greatest achievements?
- What is the salary range of people at the Tibet Fund? I heard that one staff gets paid close to the salary of 50 people of CTA … is it true?
- What is the result of the strategic overview that you did a few years ago? Are you implementing the findings of the overview?
- We understand that Office of Tibet is purchasing a new office in Washington DC. How much was the grant you wrote to purchase the Office of Tibet building in DC?
- What is your mechanism of cooperation with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)?
- Though you are an independent non-profit, the Tibet Fund was established with the help of the Office of Tibet — so is logically and morally part of, and answerable to, the Tibetan people. There is lot of concern about the transparency of the Tibet Fund and its activities. Can you please comment on that? What is your view?
- It is heard that the Kashag suggested that Tibet Fund move to Washington DC, but you decided not to do that. As all the grant comes from DC, why stay in New York?
- How do you elect your board of directors? Who decides who should be on the board?
- It seems that there are many Americans working at the Tibet Fund, who likely have much less understanding and experience of the Tibetan community than Tibetans would. Some of them are very junior. Do you have plans to employ more young and educated Tibetan people?
- There was a case of a staff embezzling funds at the Tibet Fund. What was the amount of the funds embezzled, and how the case was resolved?