Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Response to Tibetan Political Review's Commentary on Tethong/Sangay Debate

After this response, Tibetan Political review pulled off its commentary and emailed me conveying their apologies for the errors. They have reviewed their piece.

Dear members of the editorial board,

Creation of “Tibetan Political Review” and its declaration of itself as an independent, fair and informed platform for encouraging political discussion and critique among ordinary Tibetan citizens, at the outset to me, seemed like a wonderful idea. As a youth, I in fact encouraged my friends and other fellow Tibetans to visit the website. However, as I spent more and more time visiting your website, I cannot help but notice, the complete lack of neutrality, the website so boldly boasts of in its introduction. Reading carefully through the website’s commentaries on both Dr.Lobsang Sangay’s “Election Reform article” and the “Tethong/Sangay debate in Zurich”, I cannot help but notice, the website’s clear intent, which is to promote Tenzin Tethong la, as the right candidate for the coming Kalon Tripa elections.

The intent and the decision to support or not support a particular candidate is a matter of choice, which with His Holiness’ grace, we are being blessed with. It would have been in fact a wonderful thing to see “Tibetan Political Review” openly support its candidate Tenzin Tethong la, rather than viciously toying around with the Tibetan sensibilities( which they seemingly have a good sense about) and deceitfully trying to steer public opinion against Dr.Lobsang Sangay la. This however, will not work and youths like me will make sure that it doesn’t.

Now empty words and allegations will obviously not grant justice to the matter. Therefore, attached is my take on the “Tethong/Sangay Zurich debate”, which I do not give as a “self-declared expert but simply as an involved citizen”, in a similar manner of principle just as your website deems itself to follow, but I shall do it with far less deceit and more substance. I hope you shall publish it.

Thank you,
Yours Sincerely,


The analysis done by “Tibetan Political Review” completely ignores significant issue raised and addressed by Dr.Lobsang Sangay la in the Zurich debate, which was craftly avoided by Tenzin Tethong la. It rather, constrains itself with a few tidbits of the debate which it finds suitable to be easily distorted and refurbished with falsehood.

The four key areas under which the editorial board of “The Tibetan Political Review” gives a supposed analysis of the difference between “Dr.Lobsang Sangay la and Tenzin Tethong la”, not only lacks a clear perspective of what the candidates actually spoke in that debate, but rather gives a distorted picture of facts, interpreted in a manner that puts Tenzin Tethong la in a better light. The intent is obviously to campaign for Tenzin Tethong la and tarnish Dr.Lobsang Sangay la’s public image. However, the method adopted, which is to pose as an unbiased platform of discussion, completely reeks of political chicanery, much adrift from the idealism, His Holiness The Dalai Lama has tried so hard to bring into Tibetan Politics.

Tibetan Political Review’s take on the candidates “Attitude towards political power” and the discrepancies within this take:

Tenzin Tethong la’s response to a question from the audience “ In case, I ( meaning the general public) nominate the two of you as the potential candidate for Kalon Tripa, would you or would you not campaign?”, was completely evasive and without a definite clarification.

His evasive maneuvers to avoid saying a definite yes, effectively used the excuse of Karma, family pressure and being forced upon with a responsibility was deliberately sugar coated by “The Tibetan Political Review”, as a traditional approach of leadership as service. While to a discerning audience of the video, it should be a clear sign of lack of initiative and the selfless desire to serve one’s community.

On the other hand, Dr.Lobsang Sangay, never at any instant in the video declared that he is the one for the job and there is no one else. His response to the question entailed an understanding of the utmost patriotic virtue, that if called upon, he will not be the one to shy away from the responsibility. He also added that this responsibility could be anything, and not necessarily the post of Kalon Tripa.

Tibetan Political Reviews’ intentional misplacement of these facts, and a misleading conclusion that “ Dr.Lobsang Sangay’s stand is a western and an open approach of competition” does not do justice to what was actually said in the video.

The remark by Dr.Lobsang Sangay la “I am not running but I am not refusing to run either” was not an attack at Tenzin Tethong la, but more or less was an answer to the question from the audience, who were appalled by the attitude in Dharamsala. It was nothing more than a light satire on the political reality of today’s Tibetan politics.

This however, was taken out of context by “The Tibetan Political Review”, either by their lack of understanding, which I doubt is the reason, since the editorial board seems capable enough to write lengthy analytical pieces on contemporary Tibetan political discourse. Once again, it becomes clear to me that this website is campaigning for Tenzin Tethong la, but refuses to do it in an open and transparent manner.

Tibetan Political Review’s take on “The issue of Experience”: Another example of a misconstrued and deliberately manipulative interpretation of the Zurich debate.

Tenzin Tethong la’s inability to explain his accomplishments as somebody who was a former Kalon Tripa, was once again sugar coated by the Tibetan Political Review as someone who is modest and uncomfortable to enumerate one’s achievements. This attitude is much more na├»ve to the fact that, maybe there are no concrete accomplishments to enumerate in the first place, except the one’s that comes with having a family name that is “Tethong”.

Dr.Lobsang Sangay la’s response to the question of experience was not a comparison of himself with any of the leaders he mentioned in his answer. It was rather giving a comprehensive picture of reality driven from examples in history and modern politics. To a discerning audience, it should rather show the depth and diversity of intellectual caliber, a person like Dr.Lobsang Sangay possesses, rather than misconstrued deliberately as a “self-aggrandising” individual.

To me, a leader should be a person grounded in reality, a common man, an underdog who achieved glory, not with his family name, but with his “Karma”. To me the new Tibetan kalon Tripa should be someone who has gone to a Tibetan school in exile, ate tingmo, lived in a tibetan settlement, seen its problems, and not someone educated in English medium private schools and who had the privilege of being the uber elites of the Tibetan society.

Tibetan Political Review’s take on the candidate’s “Analytical Style”: Completely lacks the depth and understanding that one needs, to comprehend two individual’s problem solving approaches and once again is very much biased.

Tenzin Tethong la’s view on democracy and specifically the democracy followed in Dharamsala should not be given the credit of being philosophical and all encompassing, as is done by the Tibetan political review. It was in fact derogatory to those currently serving in the Tibetan parliament. Tethong la’s comment “Shetse ghi Netse” “the level of knowledge” of the Tibetan parliamentarians was poor and needs change did not sound to me to be philosophical. It rather sounded as someone who has a superiority complex, over the common lot.

Dr.Lobsang Sangay la’s take on democracy, detailing poor voter participation in Tibetan elections, reflected his view about an all encompassing democracy, and not a democracy for name sake. This was once again misconstrued by the Tibetan Political review to their own purpose.

Tibetan Political Review’s take on “The criteria for Kalon Tripa”: Blatant fabrication of question and using it to prove a point.

Dr.Lobsang Sangay la’s answer to the question “What should be the agenda of the next Kalon Tripa for Tibetan Youths?”, was “knowledge, knowledge, knowledge”. This was not an answer to the supposed question “What should be the criteria of the next Kalon Tripa”?, which I did not hear anywhere in the debate held at Zurich. Both of these questions are completely different and implying that one means the other, does not do justice to the answer by Dr.Lobsang Sangay la. Besides, the only reason why Tibetan Political Review would fabricate such questions is to benefit their campaign for Tenzin Tethong la.

I do not see anything wrong in Dr.Lobsang Sangay la’s real answer that knowledge and education should be the agenda of the next kalon Tripa for the Tibetan youth. His examples about how Armenia, the jewish community etc became successful in both the pursuit and accomplishment of social and political goals, was their effectiveness in churning out well educated capable younger generation. Now how this view is wrong, as detailed by Tibetan political review, I fail to understand.

Note to the readers of Tibetan Political Review:

Kindly view the videos of the Zurich debate on you tube and judge for yourself how much justice the commentary by Tibetan Political Review does to it.

My good words of suggestions to Tibetan Political Review

In order to claim oneself to be an independent group of citizens, one should not have any association of a personal nature with the people one is writing about, unless you are openly campaigning for the candidate.

My understanding is that the editorial board of this website have all been long time proponents of Rangzen and board members of students for a free Tibet. Some of them are infact good friends with “Ms.lhadon Tethong la” a relation of Tenzin Tethong la. Therefore, how could a website run by people who have close association with the Tethong family be unbiased and neutral?

I would very much like the Tibetan Political Review to openly campaign in a fair manner for Tenzin Tethong la and disbandon such covert actions. Or staying true to the disclaimer on their website with draw all biased views from their website. That will in fact make me respect this website once again.

The tone of my response is stern, because I cannot allow myself to pet and pity lies circulated in the name of a good cause. However, its definitely not personal.

Thank you,



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  3. Hi Tenzin,

    Thank you for dropping in my blog. The above piece was in response to a commentary on the Tibetan political review. Your understood meanings and tones of my writing depends upon your interpretation and you are free to interpret it as you please.

    However, I must say that, the very point of this response to Tibetan political review was the question of bias. Of course I am biased, Infact I have launched a website campaigning for Dr.Lobsang la, so there is no question about that...my objection lied in the commentary by Tibetan Political Review, who presented themselves as an unbiased authority, and yet had relatively biased conclusions in their piece. Besides a lot of information was misconstrued..you should watch the video.

    Regarding, mentioning Ms.Lhadon la's name, there was no disrespect in it, anyone with a proper understanding of the nuances of english can see that. The name was mentioned to show the relationship between the authors and the people they are writing about.

    Regarding my views on Tethong la's comment in that debate and whether he is the man for the Kalon Tripa, that is all a matter of perspective. You are as free to have one as I am.

    Regarding my background, I have just recently been to US. Have spent all my life in a Tibetan school and a tibetan settlement, my values, the challenges of an exile society I have witnessed, and many other things made me decide Dr.Lobsang la as my candidate.

    Regarding age, I am definitely not a teen..but nothing short of a young man, as you can easily see in my profile...hehhe..

    Anyhow..dont be bothered...your perspective will grow as you see and experience more. You can vote for Tethong la or whoever you please. Why don't you infact do something to promote him? Action is what is most needed in our society. I have tried to give an example.