By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 16: Following the announcement to relieve North America CTA mission representative and former Speaker Penpa Tsering from his position on Nov. 7, there has been a general sense of dissatisfaction among sections of the community with some even suggesting protests and boycott of events where President Sangay is scheduled to attend.
While the Kashag asserts that the issue was handled as per the binding rules and with rightful authority, the handling of the situation, many say, has rolled back on President Sangay’s campaign claims of transparency and unity. An official announcement and a press briefing by Kashag have not mentioned a clear reason for Penpa’s ousting other than vague reference to dereliction in his role there and hints at insubordination.
Officiating President Ven. Karma Gelek Yuthok told the media last week that the Kashag need not give a clarification over the transfer or firing of any staff and that the issue is an “internal matter”.
The growing impasse between the public and Kashag’s (cabinet) reluctance to give a clear explanation over the cause of Penpa’s ousting has escalated over the last week. A New York based individual going by the name of Mila Rangzen has called for a non-violent mass protest at the end of the month here in Dharamshala, prompting the settlement officer here to issue a public appeal, urging peace and order in the community.
Dharamshala settlement officer Dawa Rinchen told Phayul, “While I have no knowledge of when and how many people are going to hold a protest, my prerogative is to avoid any incidents here in Dharamshala where His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides where the CTA is based and subsequently where the eyes of the international community is transfixed on. Hence I appealed the public to maintain peace here.”
Sporadic posts and videos on social media sites such as Facebook and WeChat expressed dissatisfaction over the handling of the situation calling for a transparent approach to the matter by President Sangay led Kashag. A Tibetan nitezen Tsering Chomphel wrote on Facebook, “I personally think transparency is the first rung of so called democracy ladder. In today's world, we cannot and should not trust any individual or group blindly. If PT is innocent this time, he needs to speak out. It's not about PT or Kashag. It's about peoples trust. People will surely lose trust and interest in our politics if things are not made clear this time.”
Tsering Samdup, a Tibetan sweater seller, said that it would be inappropriate if the Kashag issues a clarification simply because some section of the community demands it. “The concerned individual here is Penpa Tsering and if he denies Kashag’s decision and seeks clarification then Kashag might be obliged to give one. Otherwise, there is no need to clarify.”
Another nitezen opined that three advisory letter/directives were enough caution by the Kashag. Tenzin Kunkyab wrote, “He got fired after three written warning (three yellow cards) after that they pulled red card, I don’t see any wrong with that unless PT himself have some explanation.” Penpa Tsering however claimed he only received one letter prior to his termination letter and has maintained he is not at fault.
Some people have even called for more dramatic action to boycott the ‘Solidarity with Tibet rally for peace and non-violence’ on 10th December in New York where President Sangay is scheduled to attend. Penpa Tsering, the outgoing representative urged Tibetans in North America to participate in the event with the broader sense of the Tibetan issue at mind and not divisive politics.
Meanwhile the Tibetan President who is currently on an official visit to northern Europe indicated that the Kashag might not budge and give a clear-cut answer on the issue. He said that Penpa Tsering has accepted the Kashag’s decision to remove him from the Washington office and his cabinet’s decision to remove and appoint liaison officers abruptly, is neither unprecedented nor illegal.
The NA office remains the most crucial position in the hierarchy of outposts of the Tibetan polity. The new man in that seat, Education minister Ngodup Tsering today said he has gotten the blessing of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his new role in Washington.