By Tenpa D. Gapshi
Provided to TPR by the author. To promote transparency, TPR invites campaign updates from all candidates.
Toronto, Canada, December 18th, 2010 - If it was cold in Toronto, it certainly wasn’t when Tenzin Namgyal Tethong was done with the crowd. The public talk was scheduled from 3pm – 4pm at the Queen Victoria Public School Auditorium but it went well over the scheduled time frame until 4:40 pm owing to vigorous and pointed questions from the public. The talk was attended by a large crowd numbering between 400 – 500 and every age group was equally represented. Tenzing la appeared confident and assertive in his introduction and fully explained why he wants to run for the Kalon Tripa post and what his qualifications are.
After the formal greetings by the MC Tsering Yangkyi la, Jordan Chazotsang gave a brief overview of Tenzing Tethong la’s past accomplishments, making sure to let the audience know that it is not just about experience but about visionary projects implemented even when he was very young, which is a mark of a true leader. That was followed by a brief five minute clip from the video, Life In Exile, produced by StandUp4Tibet based in San Francisco, which coincidently happened to be the day it was officially released. After that, the chief guest Tenzin Tethong la gave his speech, removing any doubts the audience might have had about his candidacy. He spoke from his heart and let the audience know how he made the decision to run for Kalon Tripa and why he considers it a solemn duty to his country. He thought long and hard on the issue and didn’t run for Kalon Tripa just because his friends and family implored him but because he felt he could actually do some good for his country at such a critical time in our history. He believes he has the right combination of experience, vision, and international exposure to be a strong Kalon Tripa.
The Q/A session started immediately after that and it was really heartening to get tough questions from the public not only because it allowed Tenzin la to address any concerns people might have about him openly but also because it brought to light how seriously the public are taking this Katri election. Tenzin la was glad to answer two of the most nagging questions that seem to follow him from town hall to town hall: One being the misconception about the word ‘deficit’ when he was the Finance Minister and the other being the question about why he quit the Kashag before his term. He answered truthfully that he had to take care of his young family and after thirty years serving the Tibetan Government, he felt he owed it to his family. The second question was answered more thoroughly as it relates to his actual work experience. He explained the unintentional mistake of using the Tibetan word ‘Che-Lak’ for ‘Deficit’ by some newspapers at the time and the subsequent opportunistic politicians playing on that misinformation to distract public from the highly volatile issue of Taiwan Scandal at the time. Click here to read the Kashag Letter that clears Tenzin N. Tethong’s name from all embezzlement misunderstandings/rumours. I was pleasantly surprised by his candid disclosure of the events surrounding the deficit issue and really assured that he will continue to stand his ground when the going gets tough. One of the highlights of the evening was relating to the last question which delved on the question of vision and what he felt was important and must be tackled by the next Kalon Tripa.
I am going to put this in a new paragraph because I don’t want people to miss it and more importantly I don’t want Lobsang Sangay and his people to claim it was their idea. Tenzing La mentioned one of the dire task we face is how to counter Chinese assertion that they have the right to choose the next Dalai Lama and he has no doubt that they will definitely ‘discover’ their own Dalai Lama just like they discovered or rediscovered Panchen Lama. His idea was to get all the Buddhist associations worldwide to unite, including all the Himalayan region Buddhists, Republic of Kalmykia in Russia, Japanese Buddhists, Sri Lankan Buddhists, Buddhists of all sects, all the different sects within Tibetan Buddhism, all the Buddhist centres all over the world, and any other organization that respect the Dalai Lama whether they are Buddhist or not, and speak with one voice to gain legitimacy. If all these organizations support the Tibetan selection of the next Dalai Lama unequivocally and with one voice, it becomes really hard for China to counter that kind of united force and even if it is inevitable, China loses its legitimacy and it will end up like the Confucius Award. That is a real concrete solution to a very nagging issue Tibetans will face in the near future. Relating to the issue of Unity, he believes Tibetans need to leave aside petty regional or sectarian issues aside and try to co-exist for the betterment of Tibetans in Tibet. He also believes it is very important to review the Middleway stance just like it is important to review any other policies.
The evening ended with a fund raising dinner at OM restaurant with supporters and friends where Life In Exile was also premiered. In total, Toronto was able to raise $2,270 during Tethong la's visit. Right after that, he had to do a photo shoot at his cousin’s place for the campaign. He was still energetic at that time of the night and ready to tackle Boston the next morning. He had just flown on the morning of the 18th after another successful public address in Washington, D.C the day before. So, if anybody feels he is a little on the older side, maybe next time they should try his schedule. Tonight, he is in Boston, the home base of Lobsang Sangay. Are you feeling the heat, Boston?