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Lobsang Sangay La’s Response

Tuesday, Oct 19, 2010
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A week ago Lobsang Sangay la called me on the telephone and expressed his objection to my piece which in large part dealt with his candidacy. Lobsang la told me that he did not remember making any statement (at the Woodrow Wilson conference) about wanting to be the Obama of China. He told me that he had even called his friend Dr. S.T, who had attended the conference and asked him if he remembered, which he didn’t. Lobsang la said the the proceeding of the conference had been taped and that he would try and obtain a copy, which I agreed would be great and would settle the argument one way or the other. Lobsang la and I had a long discussion and I told him that I would immediately post any rebuttal he had on my blog. I am grateful for his quick response. We did not reach any agreement at the end of our telephone discussion but I did apologize to him, which I want to do again here publicly, for not giving him advance notice of my article. Lobsang la, I am sorry I should have called you first and let you know about my piece.

I have published Lobsang la’s response exactly as he sent it to me, title and all. I will post in a couple of weeks an analysis of the rebuttals and statements he made in his response.

Response by Dr. Lobsang Sangay to Jamyang Norbus Piece

It was good to read Jamyang Norbu las article on the Upcoming Kalon Tripa Election and I look forward to reading his commentary on the other candidates. I appreciate his defense of Kalon Tripa candidates honesty and experience against criticism made by a panelist on VOA Kunleng TV. I am also of the view that all the candidates are dedicated and patriotic Tibetans who want to serve the cause. Now let me address some of the issues raised by him about me.

I found Jamyang las analysis to be way off mark. The statement I want to be Obama of China, was a JOKE and not meant to be taken seriously. In October 2008, at the time of the conference, there was an excitement about the real possibility that Obama from a marginalized group might be elected as the President of America. In contrast, it was impossible to imagine a Tibetan becoming the President of PRC. Four other attendees (Dr. Warren Smith, Dr. Sonam Topgyal, Tashi Rabgey, and another American) recalled this joking remark and said they had a good laugh. As Jamyang la was not at the conference, I dont blame him for the out-of-context interpretation. However he should have fact-checked with other attendees instead of relying on a panelist without sense of humor. (1)

Jamyang las interpretation of my views on the Chinese constitution is alarmist to say the least because it makes me sound as though I am a believer in the Chinese constitution. On the contrary, I have strongly criticized the Chinese constitution and particularly the Regional National Autonomy Law. (Please see article published by Harvard South Asian journal). The criticism of the Chinese constitution was acknowledged and quoted by Human Rights Watch report on China and Tibet (2005) and also in an article by Tenzing Sonam (Producer and director of Sun Behind the Clouds).  Jamyang la bases his comments on his recollection of our conversation during his time in Boston, perhaps my paper, published in the Harvard Asia Quarterly in the Summer of 1999, could refresh his memory.

He also claims that I dismiss the debate about Umey Lam and Rangzen which is untrue. My objection is against extreme rhetoric on both sides by Rangzen and Umey Lam supporters, which I find unhealthy and divisive. I do believe that any action has to be based on unity, planning and discipline, three cardinal principles of non-violent movement. For detail on this issue, please go to:

1. The panel consisted of Elliot Sperling from Indiana University, Allen Carlson from Cornell University and myself, and the moderator was Mark Mohr, Director of the Asia Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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