By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 27 April 2021
Lobsang Sangay and his Cabinet have appointed Lobsang Dakpa, the lawyer who represented the Cabinet in the famous Case no 20, as the new Chinese Liaison Officer at the Office of Tibet, Canberra, Australia.
The order was issued on 23 April and signed by Acting Sikyong Khorlatsang Sonam Topgyal, the Minister of Home, while Sikyong Lobsang Sangay was away on a US tour. Topgyal is second in line to take charge in the absence of the Sikyong, if his senior Yuthok Karma Gelek isn’t in office. Gelek was on leave when the order was signed.
According to the announcement circulated on social media, and confirmed by officials at the Cabinet Secretariat who requested anonymity, Dakpa will be the Liaison Officer for a period of four months from 1 May to 27 August.
Sangay has only one month left before leaving office after his second five-year term, and the appointment has raised eyebrows as Sangay took the decision at the 11th hour, more so by the fact that Dakpa was his lawyer in the famous Case no 20 which he lost. The appointment is seen as Sangay doing a favour for Dakpa.
The appointment prompted a flood of comments on social media, with one Lhodrak Tharchin from Taiwan on his Facebook commenting: “The Honourable Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay la, this appointment is completely a biased and favouritism. Personally I have nothing against Mr Lobsang Dakpa and more over we belong to the same school (TCV Suja). But this kind of favouritism hugely demoralises our dedicated public servants who spent entire life for the Tibetan cause.”
He continued, “We all know the importance of public servants for sustaining the exile government and functioning effectively. If this kind of favouritism became norm in the exile organisation I am afraid of seeing the derailment of the Exile Tibetan Community before we see the “fall of communist China”.
After losing Case no 20 to Penpa Tsering, Lobsang Dakpa criticised the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission as biased. The Justice then penalised him by revoking his license to practice as a lawyer in any Tibetan court and declared him a contemnor.
Dakpa, a member of the exile Tibetan parliament from Kham province, resigned a week ago, as he cannot hold an office of profit while being a member of Parliament. He will be replaced by Tsering Dolma from Shillong, who is first on the waiting list.
Tibet Sun has learned that Dolma had already arrived in Dharamshala, currently sitting in quarantine, even before the Election Commission had announced her appointment as the replacement for Dakpa.
In an attempt to get many questions answered, Tibet Sun called Khorlatsang Sonam Topgyal, but he hung up as soon as Lobsang Dakpa’s name was mentioned. His phone remained engaged later.
Among the many questions, one is that why would Sangay appoint Dakpa to an important post, when he dismissed Penpa Tsering from Washington DC as the Dalai Lama’s representative saying they feel no confidence in him. Why Penpa Tsering would feel confident to work with Lobsang Dakpa remained unanswered.
If there is any urgency to appoint a Chinese Liaison Officer at the Canberra Office, why not appoint Ms Dadon, the former Chinese liaison officer at Office of Tibet, Canberra? Her contract was not renewed.
If not Dadon, why did Sangay overlook another competent Tibetan lady residing in Australia, who was recommended by the Office of Tibet Canberra? She is more experienced than Dakpa, and perhaps more proficient in Chinese language.
Instead of renewing Dadon’s contract, Sangay appointed one of his main supporters Mr Kelsang Gyaltsen (Bawa) as the Chinese liaison officer at Office of Tibet, Canberra. A few months ago, Gyaltsen, a resident of Australia, was appointed as the new Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Taipei, Taiwan. He is now the Representative.
In this case also, questions arise as to why not appoint Mr Sonam Dorjee as the Representative, as he speaks fluent Chinese and has been working at Taipei for over 10 years.
What about the rumour that Lobsang Dakpa’s work permit in Australia will assist his immigration and settlement in New Zealand, where his wife is said to be living.
A few weeks ago, Australia restricted the flights from India due to the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in India. Today Prime Minister Scott Morrison suspended flights until at least 15 May due to “clearly present” risks of travel from India.
If the work of the Chinese liaison officer is important as reflected in the above appointment, why was the contract terminated of the very competent former Chinese liaison officer of Office of Tibet Geneva, Mr Lobsang Nyima. The position has been vacant for two years.
Sangay has clearly transferred senior officials of the CTA who he considers do not do his bidding.
The very experienced official Mr Tsering Dhondup, who worked for many years at the Department of Security, Tibet Bureau in Paris, France, and as Secretary at the Bureau of HH the Dalai Lama, New Delhi, was transferred as the in-charge of the Tibetan Reception Centre in Dharamshala. The work is basically a warden officer.
Sikyong has the authority to appoint 18 qualified people during his term on contract basis. However, the appointment of his ex-lawyer Lobsang Dakpa of the famous Case 20 which he lost, fails to justify and uphold the moral conduct of the CTA civil service staff code of conduct.
Many comments have criticised such nepotism and cronyism appointments, and that the CTA officials serving the community with great dedication and sacrifice throughout the year must be upheld.
Ethically, Sangay as the sitting lame duck, shouldn’t appoint officials at the 11th hour, and all his political appointees like Mr Ngodup Tsering in Washington DC, and Mr Kelsang Gyaltsen Bawa should submit their resignations before 26 May, the oath-taking day of the new Sikyong, so as to enable the new Sikyong to appoint people who have his confidence.