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Untangling the Kalachakra Fiasco

posted Mar 23, 2016, 8:29 PM by The Tibetan Political Review
By Phurbu Rinzin

 The Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in exile, who is also one of the Sikyong/Prime Ministerial candidate for the upcoming election allegedly says that he knew Kundun got upset on learning that the 2016 Kalachakra mass initiation is being turned into a political tool.

How true or not true, the full information is not yet known and so far it is only Penpa Tsering himself as the judge, witness and the complainant, but suppose what he says is true, how irresponsible and lack of leadership he has shown to completely disregard the upset that Kundun is alleged to have felt, by doing exactly the opposite, which is further politicize publicly the Kalachakra as a political tool on his campaign trails to discredit his opponent!

How childish and untactful of him to gulp out matters of state secrets, matters concerning the personnel of Kundun, state of affairs within the palace to public on being questioned by individuals on the campaign trails? He says he doesn’t want to dwell on it and clearly his body language also agrees to it, but then why couldn’t he keep is mouth shut? Suppose he becomes our Sikyong, and he is on the BBC hot seat, facing an anchor like Jeremy Paxman, who is known for his savaging of politicians, would it not make all Tibetans eat our fingers for our Sikyong may say everything, or anything that comes to his mind or more precisely his untamed mouth? Trust and confidentiality are the two sides of a coin that a leader must have and adhere to as a basic principle; candidate Penpa Tsering has unfortunately done himself a damage on this.

Routinely China’s Govt. and its cohort Dolgyal group complain and criticize us for using Kalachakra as a political tool but this time, regretfully one of our own is doing the service for our enemies. For saying publicly that he knows from start to end, even to the crucial details of date/time, only to be accepting later, in-front of the media scrum that he has actually not been fully informed on it; for him to be knowing that Kundun get upset over politicization of the Kalachakra and yet unsagaciously politicize it throughout his campaign are not a mere embarrassment that not only hijacked this election period from discussing other facts based and crucial policy issues facing Tibet, but also it has now been unwittingly damaging for Kundun, his aides, the Kashag, general public and no doubt, for the candidate himself.

For discussing this Kalachakra fiasco, many like candidate Penpa Tsering, mix up facts and invalidly sourced information or rather probable rumours to make their arguments. This attributes to further complicate and create confusion in the public on the issue. Though the wisest thing would have been for the candidate to make this not a campaign issue or at least control the damage that has been done initially when he said, in NY, he is withholding despite knowing from A to Z only to be saying more on it at various next stops in Minnesota and other places in Mysore, Varanasi etc.

Holistic and judicial means to untangle this issue, this writer feels is to not to mix the rumours side or unconfirmed information part and assess thoroughly fact based, what is being said from place to place by the candidate and see if there are inconsistencies. Therefore, based on what actually candidate Penpa Tsering has been saying on the issue, following inconsistencies can be deduced and voters who weigh on this topic to give their vote, are welcome to draw an informed conclusion. Otherwise, it can go endless to-fro mudsling, dragging this issue even after the election.

  1. On Jan 17th, 2016 in NY, Speaker Penpa Tsering in response to a public question said he will not discuss in public on the Kalachakra issue, though he claimed that he knew from the start to end, even the details of date and time on the issue, because he respects what Kundun said in Tashi Lhunpo which is that the postponement is on “health and medical treatment” reason alone.

  1. On 23rd Jan 2016, in Minesota, US, Speaker Penpa Tsering, though have right not to comment to a public question, yet responded on the issue in much more details. Earlier in NY, he said he respects what Kundun said on the issue but this time, he reiterated he considers what Kundun said at Tashi Lhunpo as “དགོས་པའི་དབང་གིས་” ‘for a purpose’, hinting a possible cover up. Kundun has unequivocally said the postponement is medical reason at Tashi Lhunpo and Minesota; hence transfixing this message to suit one’s own interpretation is misleading and wholly inappropriate. Being the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament and also one of the Sikyong candidate, naturally such comments will raise eyebrows and questions amongst the public.

  1. After the 2nd Statement by the Kashag on 5th February 2016 regarding the Kalachakra postponement, candidate Penpa Tsering accepted to media questioning by saying that he would not have made his comments in the US had he been fully informed on this then by the Sikyong. Whilst he has been busy with his Sikyong campaign, it is clear that the Kalons responsible for the Kalachakra preparation, including the Sikyong have had an indebt consultations with Ganden Podrang and thereby its coming out into public has apparently been agreed by all sides and done accordingly.

  1. In the absence of the Speaker, it is now known that the Deputy Speaker has been fully briefed in the discussions. If Sikyong or the Kashag has not fully informed both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker in the matter, they would have surely raised concerns with the Kashag soon after the first announcement by the Kashag on 31st August, 2015. To this date, the Deputy Speaker has not uttered a word on this like the rest of the Kalons. If the Speaker Penpa Tsering has doubts and concerns or feels he has been misled, why did it took so long for him to raise the matter either directly with the Kashag or in the public? From 31st August 2015(1st Postponement Announcement) to 17th Jan 2016 (PT speech in NYNJ), he has got more than about 4 months to fully grasp the matter before making any public statement, but he has not.

  1. On careful listening to what Speaker Penpa Tsering said in Minnesota (23/01/2016) and in Dharamasala (5/02/2016), a clear inconsistency can be deduced that Mr. Penpa Tsering is contradicting himself. This is because in his Minnesota speech, while explaining the matter, it was clear that he knows about and did mentioned that the two secretaries from Ganden Prodrang came to brief the Kashag on 29th August 2015 regarding the postponement. Yet in answering the media after the 2nd statement by Kashag, Speaker Penpa Tsering on 5/02/2016 in Dharamsala said that only through the 2nd statement, he was being made aware of about the two secretaries of Ganden Podrang coming down to brief the Kashag. He also added that had the Sikyong briefed him in detail, he would not have made the public comments in Minnesota. Therefore, why did he mention, in the first place, about the two secretaries coming down to Kashag in Minnesota?

  1. Also on carefully observing what the Speaker Penpa Tsering said in Varanasi (02/03/2016), he did mentioned that in his phone conversation with the Sikyong on 30/08/2015, he was briefed by the Sikyong on the reasons why the Kalachakra is being postponed. In the conversation, the Speaker mentioned about the Sikyong informing him on the need for His Holiness to rest by cutting down on his heavy and busy schedules. Interestingly he also said that the Sikyong did mentioned to him about the medical reasons for His Holiness to seek treatment. Matters concerning His Holiness’s health is utmost important and is dealt with strict secrecy. Even the Sikyong would not have information unless being briefed on it by Ganden Podrang. Therefore, by saying that the Sikyong did mentioned about the medical reasons behind the postponement, it is highly probable that the Sikyong also mentioned about the two secretaries briefing the Kashag on it; even if he has not, the strength of the argument is that Kalachakra has to be postponed for health and medical reasons, not political as the Speaker keeps on bragging throughout.

  1. Since the 2nd statement by the Kashag on 5/02/2016, and further clarification by the Sikyong on VOA subsequently, the Speaker ostensibly turned more defensive, tried to turn the debate into his version by saying that what he said in Minnesota dealt specifically on the events happened on 27th and 28th August 2015. The inconsistency in this is that in NY/NJ he said he knows full from A-Z, even the details of dates and time. In Minnesota also, he talked about the whole events, not specifically on the date 27th and 28th of August 2015. The subsequent letters he wrote to the Kashag for demanding answers for harming his credibility and questioning is integrity is more of a tactic to shift the topic into a personal complaint and divert the attention when the overwhelming and available evidence reflect inconsistencies in his version of the story.

  1. In Kollegal (22/2/2016), India, the Speaker talks about him having the truth, honesty and willingness to go any lengths to prove him right. However in Varanasi (2/3/2016), still implying that the reason for Kalachakra postponement is political, rather than health/medical reason, the speaker held to his version of the story and said even if he get scolding from Kundun, he will have to take it. For the record now, His Holiness has mentioned about three times at different location, first at Tashi Lhunpo, then Minnesota and very recently in Geneva, Switzerland on 22/3/2016 that the Kalachakra has to be postponed for health and medical reason as advised by his doctors. Still, to continually state the reason was not medical but political by the Speaker Penpa Tsering on uncorroborated circumstantial evidences belies his insensitivities and insecurities in presenting himself as an honest and a credible Sikyong candidate in this election period, otherwise he does not have to attach political overtones to the Kalachakra postponement decision, fearing it may swing public opinion for the incumbent Sikyong Hon. Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

Finally, from a wider perspective, the decision to cancel and postpone the Kalachakra has been a wise and a correct one. Available statements by Ganden Podrang and the Kashag on the matters are fairly consistent. The comments to media, public and news on the issue by Hon. Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay are also consistent throughout and sheds further light in to the fact that the decision was taken with full consultation and understanding with Ganden Podrang by the Kashag, particularly in view of the medical advice given for His Holiness, in July 2015, New Delhi for Prostrate treatment.

Indeed the decision has to be taken at the time as per the circumstances whether it be in an election period or not, because the well-being and health of His Holiness is indisputably the most important for us all, six million Tibetans and followers and fans of His Holiness throughout the world. For our Hon. Speaker Penpa Tsering, the best decision would have been to press the incumbent on policy based issues, demonstrate his credentials as a proven leader and seek public support through an inspiring and fact based clean politics; winning or losing the election is never guaranteed beforehand, still then the Speaker could have chosen not to drag and politicize the Kalachakra decision.

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