Sikyong Lobsang Sangay! Where are Office of Tibet loan records?

Mila Rangzen

Mila Rangzen

By Mila Rangzen

NEW YORK CITY, US, 16 November 2017

Last March the auditing staff from Dharamshala CTA visited the Office of Tibet, Washington DC, to do the accounting. The staff asked the representative Penpa Tsering for the record of a $1.5-million loan taken by his office from Tibet Fund to purchase the building to house the Office of Tibet. Penpa Tsering told the staff that there is no record whatsoever for the loan since he took office in August 2016.

The auditor reported this discrepancy to the Auditor General in Dharamshala. Penpa Tsering also stated it to Sikyong and asked legitimate questions. Sikyong ordered the Auditor General to his office on two occasions and told him to remove any mention of the loan in the report.

This is not how democracy works. When transparency and accountability are missing, corruption is inevitable.

Penpa Tsering stood up to Sikyong — the highest Tibetan office — and said it is morally wrong to pressure the Auditor General to remove any mention of this loan.

The question

Why is Sikyong hiding the loan trail from the Tibetan public? To me, the answer is simple and yet two-pronged.

First: During the 2016 election, Sikyong claimed that it was his achievement that during his tenure he bought the building, without mentioning the source of the loan. I think that this was to boost his campaign resume to impress the Tibetan voters. Since Penpa Tsering raised this question as a responsible representative, Lobsang Sangay did not appreciate his integrity and terminated him. This is not a transfer.

Second: A few days before Sikyong fired Penpa Tsering, Sikyong’s supporters shared a two-minute video clip (on social media) where the Dalai Lama said he trusted Samdong Rinpoche and Lobsang Sangay as his representative or emissary. Nothing came in so handy as this clip; it was the opportunity to fire Penpa Tsering as it was unlikely for the Dalai Lama to say anything on the firing of Penpa Tsering for two reasons:

  1. The Dalai Lama just said he trusted Sikyong as a representative.
  2. Anything the Dalai Lama says on this firing issue; the Cabinet could see as interference with Sikyong business. Sikyong knew this, and he seized the opportunity. Also, the next Parliamentary session is months away, within which time this controversy would likely die down for the public memory is always short.

Had Penpa Tsering kept mum about this loan issue, the Parliament would raise the question in the future why he left the Tibetan public in the dark. Had he spoken up, as he rightfully did, he would, and did, get fired!

Why did Sikyong use Minister Youthok as his spokesperson?

During the 2016 Kalachakra controversy, Sikyong left Dharamshala, I believe to avoid questions from the media, and used the DIIR secretaries Tashi Phuntsok and Sonam Dakpo to deliver a two-minute press release. Well, this time again he left Dharamshala and used both the Cabinet secretary and the Religion and Culture Minister Youthok to face the music from the media. From his body language, it seems evident that Youthok was doing the press release under pressure. He appeared disoriented, hardly maintaining eye contact with the media. He was mentally not present.

Just after the resignations of both former Security Minister Dongchung Ngodup and DIIR Minister Dicki Chhoyang, Lobsang Sangay found out that Cabinet secretary Youthok was also going to resign. Sangay saw this as a blow to his image as a leader. So, in the Parliament, Sikyong announced that the Cabinet secretary was not going to resign. The backdoor deal was Sikyong promising him the ministerial post of religion and culture. This time Sikyong settled the score by using him to tackle the media. Did you notice how uncomfortable Youthok was?

Kashag said in the press release that the Office of Tibet in Washington is very important. This implies that the person holding the post in this office is very important too. The question then is “Is Penpa Tsering not fit enough to hold this post? And if not, why not?” Detail clarification is required.

The fact of the matter is that Penpa Tsering is far more fitting than any other representative from the past. Just one example: He is the only Representative who conducted the Tibetan population census under his jurisdiction and visited all the Tibetan dharma centers in North America to solidify our connection.

Where is the money?


As Tibetans, it is our right as well as our duty to be watchdogs. That’s the least we can do.

It may be the prerogative of Kashag to terminate representatives, but this situation is different for several reasons:

  1. Penpa Tsering is the Chief Representative recommended by the Dalai Lama himself.
  2. Penpa Tsering was Lobsang Sangay’s arch-rival during 2016 election so we see a revenge motive.
  3. This situation is not normal. For the first time in our exile history, humble Tibetans are rising up in protest because they need to know why in detail.
  4. HH Private Office fired Tenzin Dhonden from the post of emissary. The man who blew the whistle on the character and conduct of Tenzin Dhonden is none other than Penpa Tsering.
  5. When the Dalai Lama asked Kalden Lodoe how Penpa Tsering was performing as the representative, Lodoe said Penpa Tsering is always drunk in the office.
  6. The Dalai Lama, being a human being, has no way of knowing the motive behind Kalden Lodoe’s words so he took them at face value.

Given the seriousness of the situation here, Sikyong must explain each and every reason in depth, failing which he must reinstate Penpa Tsering, or resign for playing the politics of revenge and regionalism.

All I am demanding is transparency and accountability.

Since there is no record of the loan, we the people demand to know: Who actually pocketed the money?

You can make your voice heard!

Now, along with the protest, flood the Kashag (and cc to HH Private Office and the rest) with letters, faxes, emails, and phone calls demanding an explanation, failing which Sikyong must apologize and reinstate Penpa Tsering.

This is how democracy works!

Office of the Sikyong
Private Secretary to Sikyong
Kashag Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamshala – 176215 H.P., India
Tel: +91-1892-222218, 222713, 223546
Fax: +91-1892-224914
E-mail: [email protected]

Kashag Secretariat
Kashag Secretary
Kashag Secretariat
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamshala – 176215 H.P., India
Tel: +91-1892-222218, 222713, 223546
Fax: +91-1892-224914
E-mail: [email protected]

Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
Parliamentary Secretary
Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamshala – 176215 H.P., India
Tel: +91-1892-222481
Fax: +91-1892-224593
E-mail: [email protected]

Private Office
Mailing address:
The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Thekchen Choeling
P.O. McLeod Ganj
Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) 176219
Fax: +91-1892-221813
E-Mail: [email protected]

Remember: 27 November 2017, Monday 10 am sharp!

If Kashag refuses to reveal the reasons for the firing, then I suggest to boycott the December 10 event in New York which will be presided over by Lobsang Sangay and speaker Sonam Tenphel. The purpose being, not to protest the event itself, but to make our feelings clear to Lobsang Sangay and Sonam Tenphel.

About the author

Mila Rangzen is a US armed forces veteran serving the New York Community as an immigration translator. He can be reached at [email protected]

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