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The Tibetan Parliament in Exile,
c/o Parliamentary Secretariat,
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamsala. H.P. India. 176215
December 28, 2013
REF: NORBU TSERING / TIBETAN CANADIAN CULTURAL CENTRE (TCCC)
Honourable Chairperson and Members of Chithue:
I had initially intended to simply address Chithue Norbu Tsering la’s statement made in the last session of the Parliament on September 25, 2013, but as I began to pen my thoughts, it became manifestly obvious that there was much more to be disclosed and scrutinized. Therefore, with your indulgence, I have prepared a time line report (TCCC Report…attached) that will shed light on precisely what happened in Toronto and why his statement warrants further examination.
With due respect to Norbu la, after the last Toronto Community meeting on Saturday December 7, 2013, I am compelled to write this letter to provide a different perspective on his imperious statement, where he asserted that due to “internal organization” in Toronto, The Centre for Tibetan & Buddhist Studies (CTBS) has not yet been implemented even after receiving $1.2 million dollars from “Ganden Phodrang” over two years ago. The target audience of his September 25th statement being far removed from the events in Toronto consequently would not have the perspective that I wish to disclose. His statement is factually incorrect and simply relegating to “internal organization” and go on to suggest a need for starting an “exclusive Tibetan school in North America”, does not reflect well on the Toronto Tibetan Community.
It is absolutely not true that the main reason for not being able to implement the CTBS is because of “internal organization”, rather it is due to the failed 2010 TCCC Renovation Project that Norbu la initiated and ultimately mismanaged. Also, contrary to Norbu la’s assertion that the October 19, 2013 meeting in New York is to “expand and remind” on the initiatives of the CTBS, it is my understanding that the meeting was called to order by His Holiness The Dalai Lama Trust representative Jampel Lhundupla for a “status update" from a prior visit to Toronto on the initiatives of the TCCC and CTBS. Given the known financial challenges of the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre (TCCC), a platform was made available for the two former and current Presidents of TCCC, to provide an update on the state of affairs with respect to CTBS. The meeting was also attended by Lobsang Nyandak la; Kaydor Aukatsang la (former and current Representatives of His Holiness Office NY respectively), Tenzin Taklha la and Tsegyam la from the Private Office of His Holiness.
Members of Chithue would not have known about the failed 2010 TCCC Renovation Project, which resulted in two Legal Liens totalling $1.5 million dollar registered against TCCC by the General Contractor and the Architect under the order of Ontario Superior Justice Court in December 2010 but never disclosed to the community. Failure caused by a combination of mismanagement, reckless spending and lack of transparency during his tenure as President of TCCC. The $1.5 million dollar Liens were discovered after the TCCC management transition in Augusts 2011 to the newly elected Board and President Kunsang Tanzin la. More shocking is the fact that the “notice” of Liens were actually issued nine months prior in early December 2010 and kept under wraps. Even his own Board member and Senior V.P. Kelsang Phuntsok la, during a community meeting openly corroborated that he too was not informed of the Liens. The formal Legal Lien was issued in early January 2011 through the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for the nearly $1.5 million dollar Lien against TCCC’s property. Interestingly this nondisclosure period (from December 2010 to August 2011) was also at a time when Norbu la was campaigning to be the North America Chithue. This non-disclosure period resulted in the critical loss of valuable time and lost opportunity to do some fund raising so that TCCC could apply for matching funds from the Federal Government of Canada. We also now know the $1.5 Million dollar Legal Liens were clearly not disclosed to the third party accounting firm of Hotay Financial Services Inc., (who is contracted annually to audit and present TCCC’s Financial Reporting’s) as there is no mention of the Legal Liens in the narrative of the Audited Financial Statement for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2011. In fact, Hotay Financial Service’s report clearly indicates that ‘there were no legal cases pending” (A) during this period, thus seriously compromising the integrity of the Annual Audited Financial Statement. For Norbu la to suggest that CTBS has not yet been implemented because of “internal organization” and not fully explain why, is a huge injustice to the reality as it was and not befitting the position he holds. This is simply politicking and warrants scrutiny for the debacle of the failed 2010 TCCC Renovation Project.
Judging from the sequence of events in the two year tenure under Kunsang Tanzin la and his Board, TCCC was fundamentally preoccupied in ensuring TCCC was not forced into receivership. Stemming from the botched management of the 2010 TCCC Renovation Project and the lack of transparency under Norbu la’s watch, Kunsang la publicly compared the problems his Board inherited to that of the layers of “onion peels”. Notwithstanding the “onion peels” of problems, Kunsang la and his Board members held a series of public meetings, working with the Tibetan Community, The Dalai Lama Trust, TD Bank, General Contractor and the Architect. Eventually, early September 2011 agreement was reached to resume work with what available funds would permit and before the October 31, 2011 Federal Government deadline.
It should be recognized that Norbu Tsering la has served the community extremely well in the years 2002-2004 and 2006-2009. Much was accomplished during his tenure, notably the successful execution of the 2004 Toronto Kalachakra; the 2007 purchase of the TCCC building and the successful registration of TCCC as a Registered Charitable organization in 2008 (B). Based on the accomplishments during his watch, he gained the trust and support of the community members including myself and the Board members he worked with. For his endeavours Norbu la received much recognition, accolades and eventually garnered the support needed for his successful election bid as one of the two Chithues representing North America.
However, post 2009 of his tenure has been a major disaster and problematic to the Toronto Tibetan Community. Whatever his agenda or reason might have been for not disclosing the $1.5 million dollar Liens back in Dec 2010, the optics in hindsight however, suggests that it was certainly not in the community’s interest. In light of the events that have unfolded in Toronto during and as a result from Norbu la’s tenure as the President of TCCC, it is absolutely absurd to hear his comments of September 25th in the Parliament, his position at the October 19th, 2013 meeting in New York and just recently on December 7, 2013 at a community meeting in Toronto. Three years have now passed by since the catastrophe of the failed 2010 TCCC Renovation Project but Norbu la’s absolute non acceptance of responsibility and unapologetic denial still continues. Norbu la’s reckless decisions, gross mismanagement of the 2010 TCCC Renovation Project and lack of transparency during his tenure is unacceptable. In the absence of any acceptance of responsibility on Norbu la’s part and taking into consideration the $8.5 million plus dollars expended thus far on TCCC, with very little to show for it, a call for a forensic accounting is in order. Essentially, the unchallenged liberties taken and the finesse of politicking, community service and accountability has gone to the pastures. There has been absolutely no culpability for the mismanagement and the colossal failure of the 2010 TCCC Renovation Project. This is simply not right. The Toronto Tibetan Community deserves accountability, The Dalai Lama Trust deserves accountability, our generous Patrons and Supporters alike deserve accountability.
Contrary to Norbu la’s constant assertion, TCCC is certainly NOT 90% complete but instead remains in a crisis mode with a donation fatigued Community, stemming from the failed 2010 TCCC Renovation Project during his tenure as President. His insensitivity in publicly disclosing the $1.2 million to TCCC from The Dalai Lama Trust is unforgiveable, given that there are more deserving communities in India and elsewhere. His statement has placed The Dalai Lama Trust in a position having to rationalize why, and in doing so also jeopardized TCCC’s hopes for any future funding opportunities. His perpetration of the irreparable damage to the community has caused his reputation to be atrophied and respect from its members diminished. He has most certainly lost my respect and confidence. His impenitent refusal to publicly accept responsibility for the massive failure of the 2010 TCCC Renovation Project is a major disservice to the community he represents and dishonors the position he holds as a Chithue representative. Accordingly, the least honorable thing for Norbu la to do is to publicly accept responsibility and proffer his apology for his role in leaving TCCC physically and financially in a decrepit state.
In sharp contrast to Norbu la’s post 2009 leadership, the current TCCC President and the Board, though seriously burdened with challenges, are taking their responsibility head on with full transparency and with the community’s interest at the core. Since taking office in August 2013, the Board has continued with the business of governance, overseeing community events, weekly cultural and educational programs for the children, fundraising events etc. With the support from the community raised over $65,000 dollars to help pay down some of the heavy “Demand Loan”. Rest assure, TCCC, CTAO and the Toronto Tibetan Community have moved on in the best way it can and will continue to do so from the aftermath of the problems downloaded from Norbu la’s tenure as President.
By copy of this letter and report to the two former TCCC Presidents Norbu Tsering la and Kunsang Tanzin la and as well to the current President Tsering Tsomola la, I welcome scrutiny on my analysis.
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