By Lobsang Wangyal
ON THE WEB, 10 July 2019
In a hearing today, the exile Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) dealt with the issues of facts of Case no 20 filed by Penpa Tsering against the exile Tibetan cabinet led by Lobsang Sangay.
The 10-point charges against Penpa Tsering by Sangay and his cabinet, given to justify Tsering’s dismissal from the post of Dalai Lama’s Representative in Washingington DC, have been identified as ‘Legal issues’ and ‘Issues of fact’. Two of the ten are legal issues: One is that of the Cabinet issuing the 10-point charges after announcing Penpa Tsering’s dismissal, and the other is related to the USD-1.5-million property deal.
Sangay and his cabinet were represented by their lawyer Lobsang Dakpa, minister Karma Yeshi, former cabinet secretary Topgyal Tsering, and Under-Secretary Tenzin Phuntsok. Penpa Tsering came in person, but his lawyer Namgyal Tsekey was absent as she was in hospital giving birth.
The court heard arguments on the matter related to the Cabinet’s charge that during Penpa Tsering’s term as the North America Representative in Washington DC, he did not send any reports to his superior in the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), particularly between August 2016 and April 2017, when many important events had taken place in the US.
It was during that time that Donald Trump won the US elections, and formed a new US government. This was followed by Trump meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, also within that period.
Failing to send reports on such important issues, which the Cabinet said to be the Representative’s customary duty, was deemed a case of under-performance by Penpa Tsering.
Objecting to the the Cabinet’s claim that it was a customary duty of a Representative to send reports of events, Tsering said that neither was there any written rule nor was he instructed orally to send event-specific reports.
The defendant’s lawyer Lobsang Dakpa enumerated a set of rules established by the DIIR guiding all the Representatives to send reports. To this Tsering countered the claim that the rules asked that a report be sent every three months, but had no mention of event-specific reports. He further stated that the Cabinet’s M5 guidance and the staff discipline and governing rules do not mention any requirement to send event-specific reports. He supplemented this by saying that he had been sending reports quarterly as per the rules.
Tsering then said that many of the charges were untenable as he was never told of those problems when he was holding the post, such as trying to convince Dhardon Sharling not to accept a post of a minister in Sangay’s administration. This charge concerned an event long before he took the post of Representative.
He pointed out a few other charges and said they were all contrived charges, such as that no meetings were scheduled between Sangay and US politicians in DC when he visited there, and closure of bank accounts of Office of Tibet in DC.