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Opinion: Response to Tibetan Political reviews commentary on Tethong/San

August 9, 2010

Rinchen Tobgyal
by email
August 7, 2010

Dear Sir,

Attached is the response to widely circulated
commentary by the Tibetan Political Review. It
will be very kind if you could circulate it among your subscribers.

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,


Dear Sir/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 naïve
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.

My good words of suggestions to Tibetan Political Review

In order to claim yourself to be an independent
group of citizens, you should not have any
association of a personal nature with the people
you are 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 "lhadon Tethong" 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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