Samdhong Rinpoche awarded, says credit goes to the Dalai Lama

Dharamshala, May 25: The Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-Exile, Samdhong Rinpoche was on Wednesday awarded for his outstanding leadership as the Kalon Tripa at a function organized at the main temple. 

 The honorary award given by Tibetan Association of Belgium to Rinpoche is to “honor and thank” for the latter’s outstanding performance as the Kalon Tripa.

 Rinpoche, who reluctantly accepted the award, said in his acceptance speech, that it is usually “against his principle” to accept any recognition award but that he made an exception to it as it is a “huge blessing” to receive the award from the hands of Karmapa who did the honor of presenting the award to him.

Rinpoche thanked the Tibetan Association and Speaker Penpa Tsering who coordinated the event for the award comprising a statue of Buddha, an honorary citation and a complete set of a monk’s dress.

 Rinpoche however, reminded that the ultimate credit of any achievement of his cabinet goes to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, who in March announced his desire to step down as the political head of the exiled administration in favour of a democratically elected leader.

 Rinpoche also regretted saying that he was both “happy and sad” for being presented the honorary award by the Tibetans in Belgium for whom he said he couldn’t entertain their collective request to get legal asylum papers from the Belgium government through his Tibetan cabinet.

“Being thanked for and presented this honorary award by Tibetans in Belgium is therefore quite a surprise,” Rinpoche said evoking instant laughter from the large audience during the ceremony that was attended by, among others, the young Karmapa, Kalon Tripa-elect Dr. Lobsang Sangay, former and senior functionaries of the Tibetan administration, Special envoy Gari Lodoe Gyaltsen, Indian dignitaries and participants of the Tibetan National General Meeting that was concluded yesterday.

 All the prominent figures present during the award ceremony shared and recounted experience of their association and showered praise for Samdhong Ripoche who later admitted feeling “a little uneasy” for the nice words spoken of him.

Rinpoche was the first to be directly elected to Kalon Tripa, equivalent of the Premiership, after the Tibetan diaspora adopted the practice of electing their political leader directly by popular voting in 2001 – a move that was considered as a landmark achievement by Dalai Lama’s long-standing effort to democratize his exiled administration. Rinpoche was again elected in 2006 for another 5 year term. The Tibetan charter bars anyone from electing to Kalon Tripa post for more than twice.

 The award ceremony comes a day after the 4-day Tibetan national general meeting that started May 21 to pave ways for the amendment of provisions concerning Dalai Lama’s political power enshrined in the Tibetan Constitution after the spiritual leader firmly decided to end his political leadership in March this year.

 Later, various Tibetan associations also presented mementoes recognizing Rinpoche’s outstanding achievements during two consecutive term as the Kalon Tripa, the post which will be succeeded in August this year by the Harvard educated Dr. Lobsang Sangay who won the election recently.

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