By Dawa Lokyitsang, Boston
DHARAMSALA -- Lobsang Sangay came to Sara Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies on 2/14/11, to give the students and staff an opportunity to hear him speak and interact. After his speech I got the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
My question, “As you may already know, when the 5th delegation to China was told by PRC that they needed to acknowledged themselves as “Overseas Chinese National” (OCN) before entering China, the incident became problematic and controversial (they refused to acknowledge themselves as OCN and did not go to China). In 2005, you went to China. Did you enter China admitting and acknowledging you are an OCN?”
LS said he had talked to Sonam Dagpo la (part of the later delegation, not the 5th) and he had not heard any issues regarding the 5th delegation and OCN. This was surprising, since almost everyone who’s been following delegation news since the 1st, know that there indeed was this issue. He said he had gotten permission from the Kashang and KT, although Kashag recently came out with a statement that LS had indeed contacted them before going to China and they had thought it was a good idea but they did not explicitly give him any specific official “permission”. Kashag has no decision making power regarding official visits to China, only HH and his office has authorization. Regarding the visit, he didn’t answer whether he had to acknowledge himself as an OCN before entering China. Instead he said he was given a white piece of paper which was needed to enter China and after returning, you could simply throw it away.
Luckily I was able to get another chance to ask a question based on the previous question. I explained that in the “white piece of paper” he spoke of, had the requirement for acknowledging oneself as an OCN and whether he had agreed to acknowledge himself as an OCN when entering China?
He condescendingly remarks “she’s very persistent” in between a laugh, I return “because we are both from Boston” and repeated that he received permission from Kashag and would not answer the specific question. So I asked again “Did you or did you not enter China acknowledging yourself as an OCN written on the white paper”. He finally said “YES” and added that the other delegation members with IC’s also maybe entered China on the same “white paper” during “Dialogue”. He also went on to say that Tibetans in India often go on that same white paper when visiting family inside Tibet. I added “you would become the first KT and TGIE official to have acknowledged yourself as an OCN if elected”. He ignored that statement and went on to highlight the important work he did while in China and not receiving an opportunity to go to Tibet because he “is too forward. He also added sarcastically, “I have been living in the US for 15yrs and I could have also gotten myself a citizenship but unlike ‘some’ I held on to my IC, maybe I should have been more selfish, maybe I am more Patriotic [then them]”. He was then busy answering someone else question when he stopped and quickly asked “Dawa la, did you know TNT also went to China in the 80s?” I replied “Yes, as the second delegation to hold talks with China.” He chose to drop that subject and went back to answering the other person’s question.
After his lecture was over, outside he approached me and sarcastically remarked if I was satisfied. I said “yen da yen” (of course) and he remarked “you’re not going to put all this on FB are you” and I replied “of course”, all between laughs while other students outside watched on. He then laughingly remarks “did you guys know she is a TNT supporter?” to the other students.
Yesterday (2/15/11), I got another opportunity to hear him speak, but at TCV day-school in Mcleod. I asked “yesterday you admitted to going to China in 2005 while acknowledging yourself as an OCN, you also stated the IC holders of the current and past delegation members for HH to China may have also carried the same white paper when they went to China for dialogue (shouldn’t he know this? he wrote a dissertation on the TGIE for 6yrs). That is actually wrong there has been no case of delegation members acknowledging themselves as OCN. If you were to be elected KT you would become the first KT and first TGIE official to have gone to China acknowledging you are an OCN. My question is, how would China view that fact and if this comes back to cause us trouble, how would you handle the problem?
His answer began by telling the already over-enthused crowed for LS that “Dawa La is from Boston, she's a TNT supporter, everyone knows how stubborn she is, she keeps asking me the same question since yesterday” condescendingly. He explains how he received permission from KT and Kashag, says the delegation members thus far has probably gone on the same white paper, again. Then goes on to say I am accusing him of becoming a Chinese citizen while in China. He goes on to explains in brief on how one has to obtain a green-card in order to appeal for citizenship in the US and how the process takes time and insinuates how that would be required if he were to actually become a Chinese citizen and that is however not the case, nor was it possible.
The problem with that reply is, I did not ask him if he became a “Chinese citizen while in China” I asked if he acknowledged he is an OCN when entering China in 2005 (a requirement to enter). Also he did not even attempt at answering whether CCP would look at this as an opportunity to cause trouble in the future if he were to become the next KT. Even if he threw away the white piece of paper that requires he acknowledge himself as an OCN when he came back from China, the Chinese government do in fact have a record of it and will in fact use that information if and when they can.
I found his condescending demeanor, his lack of patience and tolerance in being asked a challenging and tough question not only not professional but revealing. This will be the personality that will be filling the seat of KT if he wins and this is a reflection of how he will handle tough situations. The KT position is not isolated, he will have to work with the governing body that is TGIE and he will need patience, tolerance and professionalism especially, among other qualities, in dealing with tough situations. My question was a valid question and I felt it was an opportunity for him to clear the air ones and for all regarding his visit to China as an OCN in 2005. He could have chosen to handle this professionally while using this as a platform to clear any doubts we might have if and when this OCN comes back to haunt us if and when he wins KT. Instead, he chose to use this platform to make personal attacks through condescending jokes designed at me and indirectly at TNT and that is revealing of the type of leader he will be.
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