NEW YORK, US, 7 January 2018
The recent creation of the new “Ten Commandments” by Lobsang Sangay, the President of the Central Tibetan Administration, has seemingly played the sedulous ape to the Ten Commandments from the Bible with Tibetan characteristics. By creating such Commandments, Lobsang Sangay has apparently attempted to sully the man called Penpa Tsering, who had served as Speaker for the Tibetan Parliament for two consecutive terms, and had also served briefly as the Representative of HH the Dalai Lama in Washington, DC, before being suddenly and inexplicably ousted from his post with ten ambiguous and unwarranted accusations.
However, many Tibetans have highly extolled Penpa Tsering’s noble qualities and his professional dedication to the Tibet cause in the past twenty-plus years. Indeed, the abrupt removal of the former Speaker Penpa Tsering from his job has vehemently shocked not only the Tibetan diaspora, but also astonished some of the staunch Tibetan supporters such as French Senator Mr Andre Gattolin. In his letter to the Tibet Sun editor “Shocked by lack of transparency of CTA“, Mr Gattolin had lucidly expressed his disappointments and worries as to the way the Lobsang-Sangay-led CTA handles its matters.
Having gone through these “Ten Commandments” a bit, it has given me an impression of a spoiled child asking for more peremptory demands. Now I would like to unscramble them one by one as follows:
Right from the beginning, President Lobsang Sangay had initiated personal attacks and brought forward the potentially unsettled resentments that existed during the past election season without proffering any cogent evidence. This is not a bright start for someone who has earned a title as a Harvard graduate. When old grievances are ripped up with the attitude of eliminating a political rival, it only adds more fuel to the flame and makes the matter even worse. When such an adversarial act prevails, it is the community that undergoes the negative consequences. It is clear that Lobsang Sangay has palpably missed such personal charisma and virtue to embrace a pattern of direct communication to address the issue and solve the mistrust, if any, to achieve unity and concord.
The second part is nothing more than a blatant accusation which does not stand up to scrutiny. Here is why: Ever since Donald Trump won the US presidential election and assumed his office, the entire political climate has been unforeseen and chaotic not only within the US, but has pervaded every corner of the world. Wherefore, having blamed Penpa Tsering for not doing sufficient to halt or reverse the forcible tide of that kind of US political situation is a naked absurdity. It is absolutely beyond Penpa Tsering’s control to influence the newly-formed Donald Trump Administration effectively and yield a substantial result at this initial phase. However, contrary to Lobsang Sangay’s allegations, Penpa Tsering had exerted all his efforts and performed his best as witnessed by many who were also directly involved and engaged in such activities. In this regard, Penpa Tsering should not have become the sacrificial lamb to Donald Trump’s political turbulence. Therefore, this is not a case of underperformance, but rather a flimsy excuse.
With regard to the proposed appointment of Kunga Tashi to be the Chinese Liaison Officer in Washington, DC, in my opinion, Penpa Tsering possesses a remarkable foresight in that he has realized the crucial nature of the position of Chinese Liaison Officer, who literally tries to build the bridge between the Chinese and the Tibetans. The exiled Tibetans and the government have been conventionally blackened and blemished by the propaganda of the Chinese government for the past six decades. It is now for those Chinese living in the free world to expound and unravel the truth and the essence of what we pursue and where we stand to the Chinese world. And Kunga Tashi has performed this job extremely well. In his clarification, Penpa Tsering explained that he had sought approval of Kunga Tashi’s appointment from Kashag.
Having counted a Dolgyal-related issue as one of the excuses to remove Penpa Tseing is indeed making white black, and is absent of acceptable grounds. As a matter of fact, Dolgyal followers are doing such base acts openly and wantonly which is not world-shaking news at all. Dolgyal followers and the Chinese Consulate in New York always observe many events together. Dechen Tulku has even claimed to be the Representative of the Tibetans in North America with the recognition of the Chinese government. During Kaydor Aukatsang’s term as a Representative, hundreds, if not thousands, of Dolgyal followers routinely were at the heels of HH Dalai Lama to protest him. One such terrible incident occurred during HH the Dalai Lama’s travel to the US, a Western Dolgyal nun approached him closely with a hostile gesture. That kind of negligence is very dangerous.
On the contrary, as witnessed by many, Penpa Tsering has never been quirkish on the Dolgyal issue. His stance on the issue is always consistent and firm. This is one of the primary reasons why Dolgyal followers grind their teeth to hate him. Moreover, in his clarification, Penpa Tsering explained that he did report to the Kashag concerning the welcoming of Xi Jinping by Dolgyal followers. Therefore, it is unthinkable that the Kashag, a symbol of a holy entity, could use such an unsubstantiated claim to smear someone’s reputation. Such sharp practices had been quite normal during China’s Cultural Revolution period, in which people were unjustly, falsely, and wrongly charged and sentenced.
Relocating the Office of Tibet to Washington, DC, was relatively an achievable job if financially sound and stable. However, to draw those politicians over to our side overnight is another thing. It won’t guarantee that a neighbor that is near is better than a brother far off. Nonetheless, according to Mr Todd Stein, a former staff for the State Department and Congress, who shared on social media that, “According to the USDOJ FARA disclosure, Representative Penpa Tsering had 142 meetings with Congress and Administration in 13 months than his predecessor (Kaydor Aukatsang) who had 69 such meetings in 36 months.” Hence any extra comment on this issue seems unnecessary as it is evident now as to who is on the right track.
When Donald Trump took office, as aforementioned, the policies adopted and implemented by him had been seen as worrisome. According to the White House, Donald Trump enacted 55 laws and signed 30 Executive Orders in his first 100 days in office. These included budget cuts in domestic programs, reduction of funds on the policies promoted by previous administrations; pulling out of the Paris climate agreement; vowing to build walls along the US-Mexican border; the issuance of a travel ban on seven majority-Muslim nations, and so forth. The freshest such act related to US budget issue is a $285-million cut in the UN budget recently. Therefore, it is absolutely unfair and nonsensical to blame Penpa Tsering for Donald Trump’s swift budget recast policy from around the world. Nonetheless, the factual matter is contrary to what the Kashag accused, it was later reported that the US congressional committees approved $17-million aid to the Tibet issue to continue to support democracy and human rights programs for Tibet.
I remember it vividly. During his campaign for the Presidency, Lobsang Sangay had spoken pretentiously that exiled Tibetans should be financially independent and self-reliant. But now he is crying for not getting abundant funds from the foreign supporters. What a contradictory person! President Donald Trump is combating hard to carry out his promises made during his campaign. How about Lobsang Sangay? To name just a few of the scores of his rhetoric promises: Has he forgotten bringing HH the Dalai Lama to Potala Palace of Tibet? Six years have elapsed, has he resumed dialogue with Beijing government? Has he increased the salary of general staff of CTA by 50% and 75% increasing for staff of the Health Department? Has he built a luxurious auditorium for TIPA by spending millions of dollars? And has anyone thus far publicly blamed Lobsang Sangay for not fulfilling all his promises? If Penpa Tsering had to be ousted with these obscure allegations, then it is perfectly justifiable and proper to impeach Lobsang Sangay for not accomplishing any of his slogans in the past six years.
With regard to the closure of bank accounts, in his clarification, Penpa Tsering explained despite the closure of the accounts, there were not any losses. Also, as indicated by the Kashag, “Penpa Tsering forwarded an urgent communication to Kashag reporting a notice served by the bank in DC…” He immediately reported the urgent matter to the Kashag. If Kashag were really adequate to handle such case, it should have directed Penpa Tsering not to close the accounts. If there was any mistake made on the issue then the Kashag should be held accountable for failing to instruct Penpa Tsering the best way to deal with it. No matter how hard Kashag tried to emerge as a blameless body, there’s nothing it can do to remove the stigma off its name.
Under the great leadership of HH the Dalai Lama, Tibetans have made so many generous friends from across the world. Many believed that the Tibetan Government-in-Exile functions transparently and aboveboard in terms of both the political stand and the financial records. However, the uncovering of the 1.5-million USD loan or donation issue has certainly cast doubts on the credibility and integrity of the Lobsang-Sangay-led CTA. Such a decadent move is indeed trust deficit by Kashag, which may eventually jeopardize our movement for freedom and justice. Many have questioned the legality of the deal, but it is not my interest to make legal arguments here. It would be more accurate and fair to say that even when Tibetans were facing the most challenging ordeal at their early time as refugees, such a furtive and under-the-table deal had been unheard of in the past. Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard graduate, representing CTA, has purposely engaged in such a covert and unseemly transaction.
The root cause of the recent unrest in the Tibetan community is commenced by Lobsang Sangay who only disclosed the deal to his dearest and nearest, but concealed it from Penpa Tsering, the Representative of HH the Dalai Lama in Washington, DC, who was supposed to handle the crucial matters of the same Office. It is not Penpa Tsering’s fault to raise the question on the hidden and mysterious deal, because he has a compelling obligation to make sure everything is alright with the office. In this regard, Penpa Tsering has emerged as a man with down-to-earth attitude rather than a man who misleads his superiors and deludes his subordinates as some tend to do.
It is Lobsang Sangay who has demeaned himself to this low by picking up rumors and gossips from the streets to render national-interest related pivotal decisions based on such trivial matters, which are unworthy of even being mentioned. Even if Penpa Tsering had made comments behind his back with Dhardon Sharling, it would be deemed as private expression rather than an official remark. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions….” And such right is guaranteed by law in most part of the world except a few authoritarian governments such as China and North Korea. Applying such rumors as one of the ten accusations to remove Penpa Tsering is indelicate and childish. During China’s Cultural Revolution period, “Viciously Attack on the Great Leader Mao Zedong” had been a horrent excuse to jail, kill and persecute those who did not make profound reverence to Chairman Mao Zedong. Given Penpa Tsering’s qualifications and experience, instead of being shunted aside, he should have been rendered a highly responsible position in the CTA. Such favoring move will be conducive to the Tibetan movement. Furthermore, now is the time for us to recruit the best and brightest people to work for the Tibetan people rather than suppressing and pushing them out.
Accordingly, as unscrambled the foregoing, it is obvious that the Lobsang-Sangay-led Kashag is the root cause of the recent unprecedented unrest in the Tibetan community. The farce directed by Lobsang Sangay has remained unfinished yet. The unrest is widely expected to continue until Kashag steps forward to find a better solution. Otherwise, this is the beginning of the end of the Tibetan movement, and the destruction of unity and concord in the Exiled Tibetan Community. More importantly, it is sad to witness a once-successful society that had been iconic and promising in the eyes of many refugee communities in the world, now beginning to wane. And this will be eventually recorded in the annals of the history of Tibet.
To those who might think that I am a friend of or related to Penpa Tsering, I hereby respectfully inform you that I have neither met him personally nor talked with him in any form. It has come out merely based on my own observations and understanding of the matter with a sense of urgency, though the 97-page clarification by Penpa Tsering has explained everything.
About the author
Nathan Gyatso, གནས་བརྟན་རྒྱ་མཚོ, lives in New York, and is working for a law firm.