Dawa Tsering and the Tenpa Yarphel Khampa faction : A question of integrity

NEW YORK CITY, US, 2 September 2018

Today 2 September is Tibetan Democracy Day. I write this piece hoping that the ideas here will find their way onto our Parliament floor, to help promote a fair, transparent, and rational debate as part of our budding democracy.

Exile Tibetan parliamentary sessions are held every six months in Dharamshala. Members of the exile Parliament represent Tibetan people from all over the world. Its role is to hold the Kashag (cabinet) accountable for its actions and policies. Members discuss and make laws. This platform is crucial because thousands of Tibetans watch the proceedings on YouTube, with questions such as what issues our MPs are talking about and how they are communicating and if any solutions are found. The next session is this month, in September.

Why is the Khampa faction attacking only Dawa Tsering?

After school graduation, Pawo Dawa Tsering served as peon cum sweeper for TYC centrex, Dharamshala. From 1979 to 1986 he served as Rupon of Regional TYC, Dharamshala, during which time he pioneered the construction of a cemetery near McLeod Ganj as per the need of the community.

In 1983, the korlam [sacred walking path around the hill of Dalai Lama’s residence] had fallen into poor condition, especially near lhagyal ri [the prayer wheel and prayer flag area]. Many elderly people were injured due to falls. Dawa Tsering took charge of upgrading this path.

In 1985, with financial help from the Private office, Dawa Tsering led the initiative to improve the road between Tsuglakhang and Jogiwara.

In 1982, with initiative from RTYC and the parents around McLeod Ganj, he worked towards building a school, which was called གཅེས་འཛིན་ཕ་མའི་སློབ་གྲྭ། (Chezin Phamai Lobda). This project was later handed over to TCV, as they agreed to build a Day School for the Tibetans of McLeod Ganj.

Yongling Kindergarten, his greatest contribution

In 1984 Yongling Kindergarten was started as per the advice from Jetsun Pema la, on TIPA road in a wooden house of Choepa Lhakpa. It was moved to the present location in 1985, but due to lack of funds between 1985 and 1987, the classrooms were without a roof. (At that time nobody from the Khampa faction came to ask if the school belonged to private or public).

The inception of the school to the present level of improvement is purely due to Dawa Tsering’s struggle and hard work. Over 10,000 students have benefited from this school in the past well over three decades.

Since most of the people around McLeod Ganj go out of the area for the sweater business, they had no place to keep their school-going kids in their absence. Hence the need for a hostel was felt. There had been no hostel facility till then.

Then, in 1989 new arrivals from Tibet began pouring into Dharamshala. Now a hostel was also needed to keep the infants of new arrivals who go to work, as well as 3 months of the year for sweater-sellers’ children. In admitting these children, no distinction or discrimination was made based on the children’s regions or cholkhas.

The land on which Yongling Kindergarten exists was bought in the name of a local Indian, and Dawa Tsering has the Power of Attorney to work on it.

Dawa Tsering was elected as the welfare officer of Dharamshala in 1992, whereas Yongling Kindergarten was started before he took that post. Hence, the allegation that he did not hand over Yongling to his successor is a completely wrong notion. He took over the work of welfare officer from Tsewang Tashi and later handed it over to Sonam Choephel.

There is no truth in the allegation that he has not respected the office of the Supreme Justice Commission (SJC) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Abiding by the rule of law he agreed to hand over all the properties of the school to the CTA, barring the land and house, as these come under the jurisdiction of Indian law.

When Dawa Tsering asked the SJC if they were taking the case of land and house, he was told that they are taking the case on the basis of how the donation was given and taken, which is in the recorded cassette of SJC.

If you listen to the then [14th Kashag] DOE Kalon Thupten Lungrig’s talk on this issue in the house, you will get a clear picture of the case.

The allegation that Dawa Tsering has dragged the Tibetan Government-in-exile to court is also incorrect.

Since his opponent Passang Tsewang has nullified his life-long service to society and defamed him in the community, Dawa Tsering has filed a defamation case against Passang Tsewang.

If Dawa Tsering has in any form shown disrespect to the SJC of CTA, the commissioners should have by now taken away his election rights. But as he still enjoys the right, it clearly shows that he did abide by the rule.

Most social activists apply for a grant from the government, and Dawa Tsering too applied for financial help from Sherig [Department of Education of Central Tibetan Administration]. The donor Yoko Goto from Japan after looking into the condition of Yongling accepted to donate funds to finish the construction of Yongling through Sherig.

By giving a donation to the projects, if the property goes to the Central Tibetan Administration then there should be a much longer list to deliberate in the Parliament House.

Why it is only Dawa Tsering’s case that is in the forefront is a big question to be answered by the Khampa faction. It seems they have been after him for 17 long years — and yet they could not take the school away from him. Why? Dawa Tsering does not have an army guarding the school but why can’t CTA take the school from him for good? It’s obvious CTA lost not only the battles but the war too on hero Dawa Tsering. Well, we have bigger fishes to catch before Dawa Tsering!

Norbu Lingka Institute is a CTA property, but since 1997 Kasur Khampa Kelsang Yeshi seized this property, and all the profit from this venture goes into his pocket. Norbu Lingka Institute has three hotels, namely Chonor House, Norling House, and Serkong House. Each hotel has more than 20 rooms. Each room cost Rs 6,000 to Rs 20,000 per night.

Norbu Lingka also has three restaurants and each restaurant has a seating capacity for more than 50 diners.

It also has stores both online and on land making a huge profit. Then there are large amounts of donations pouring in from individuals, NGOs, governments, and the international community. And the proceeds from hotels, restaurants, stores, and donations end up in this one man’s pocket. This is broad daylight robbery and yet the Khampa faction is silent. Why?

Phuntsok Wangyal, a Khampa man who was the Representative in London Office of Tibet, did not hand over the NGO Tibet Foundation to his successor when his tenure was up. He kept the NGO with him.

He seeks donations in the name of all Tibetans and also claims he helps all of Tibet, but the raw fact is 98% of the proceeds go to his Kham province. Only 2% of the proceeds go to U-Tsang and Amdo. Is this fair? And this discrimination on the basis of region has been going on since 1985. This is corruption and yet the Khampa faction led by Tenpa Yarphel is silent. Why?

Lobsang Rabgyal, a Khampa woman, seeks donations for her NGO Machik in the name of all Tibetans since 2002, and claims to be distributing the proceeds to all of Tibet, when the fact is she is spending the donation money only on her Kham province, not in U-Tsang and Amdo. This is downright discrimination.

Why is the Khampa faction led by Monlam Tharchin silent on this in the Parliament?

Yes, the Khampa faction is silent because they are all Khampas. They are all phayul chikpa [same province] supporting one another no matter what the fact is. This is negative regionalism.

It is negative Khampa regionalism such as this perpetrated on my peace-loving Utsang race over a period of six decades in exile has turned me into a hardcore Utsang. Now there is no turning back.

I am no emotional teenager but an educated and resourceful man of 49.

And when it comes to domestic politics and Utsang political rights I swear upon heaven I will fight to the end of the world. No more will my warriors be so dishonored again.

No man or lama or situation can change this resolve.

Neither the Dalai Lama nor the Tibetan situation can weaken my determination.

Give me bricks and I will give you rocks.

No amount of rationalizations will make this eventuality go away.