History 2012Events

Director’s reply to Mark Gould’s video “Miss Tibet”

Mark Gould filming during Miss Tibet Pageant 2011 at TIPA, McLeod Ganj, on 5 June 2011 MissTibet.com

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
— Winston Churchill

Although Churchill’s words hold good for me, and I am one who acts on that sentiment, I feel compelled to bring out some of the facts behind a video made by Mr Mark Gould, and the remarks by one of the Miss Tibet 2011 contestants.

It all started like this: Mark Gould, an Australian from Sydney, had been wanting to make a documentary about the Miss Tibet Pageant for a few years. But there wasn’t a Tibetan contestant from Australia, for him to present his idea and eventually get buyers from Australian TV stations.

In 2011 Mr Gould recruited Ngodup Dolma from Melbourne to participate in the Miss Tibet Pageant 2011. Mark Gould’s team consisted of two other persons: Lara Damiani handling another camera, and Jamie Williams as photographer.

Mr Gould covered Dolma’s journey expenses, and trained and groomed her. He filmed all these preparations with the idea of a dream pageant with a fairy-tale ending, where she would be crowned winner.

When Dolma was not crowned, Mr Gould instead made a reportage covering the Pageant in a negative light, and accusing the Director (myself) of forgery, and overlooking the high qualities of the winner Tenzin Yangkyi.

On 5 June 2012, Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Foreign Correspondent programme broadcast the reportage. In it, Dolma says that the Miss Tibet Pageant is a platform to talk about Tibet, and a celebration of the modern Tibetan culture. But then when she didn’t win, she showed another side of herself.

On the next day after the finale night, Mr Gould wanted a video interview with the Director.

My statement in the video about losing the marksheets is true. After the finale event, I put the folders containing the marksheets in my bag backstage. Later that night at the studio, I found them missing. The only people who had been backstage that night were my staff members, the contestants … and Mr Gould and his team.

During the interview Mr Gould asked many questions — but none of them were really about the Pageant. They all circled around why Dolma didn’t win.

When we were wrapping up the interview, Dolma and Tenzin Sangmo appeared at my studio to complain. What a coincidence that Mr Gould was interviewing me and they just happened to come! Mr Gould kept recording the whole time Ngodup Dolma complained, and I was aware that he was doing that. As I didn’t have any misgivings, I wasn’t afraid of the recording.

The accusations about the Director having the maximum say is done in a voice-over commentary, but without any evidence. The judges were there in McLeod Ganj after the pageant and available, but Mr Gould didn’t interview them for more details about the marking.

Sangmo’s family members also insisted that she was the winner. Her brother threatened to kill me for not having crowned her.

How many people know that three days later Dolma came with a group of people to attack me and my staff members late in the night. She attacked our chaperone, and another accomplice waited in the darkness to attack me with a huge stick. Had I not run, a strike could have been fatal.

However, even after such an act as this, we have not stripped Dolma of her first runner-up position, because the Pageant is about empowering and encouraging young Tibetan women.

It’s only unfortunate that the Miss Tibet Pageant, a strong political statement and a celebration of Tibetan identity and culture (in Dolma’s own words), becomes abominable and obnoxious in Dolma’s view moments later when she doesn’t win the crown.

While in McLeod Ganj, Mr Gould threw his weight around a bit. I obliged him, thinking that since he came all the way from Australia, he deserved some leeway. He asked me to change the intro music, because of his fear of fees being levied by the copyright holder, which I did. He brought a “sound engineer” to be DJ, overriding my choice. He even demanded that the sound system be brought earlier than the scheduled time, for which I had to pay extra money.

The DJ gave himself an electric shock while handling the equipment, and also fried my laptop which he was using. Following this the DJ asked me to cancel the show that night — with thousands of people in the audience waiting. The show did get delayed by an hour. Mr Gould never offered to replace the laptop.

The most important thing to Dolma seemed to be, that she didn’t win. For me, Tibet won. There was a new Miss Tibet in Tenzin Yangkyi. A true Miss Tibet is not only beautiful outwardly, she is beautiful from inside. She is passionate about Tibet, Tibetan culture and the Tibetan cause.

With these qualities, Tenzin Yangkyi represented Tibet in the Miss Asia Pacific Pageant in South Korea, where she fared well and won the People’s Choice award. Also she made friends with one of the most beautiful women on earth, a former Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen.

Ngodup Dolma was Mr Gould’s “Miss Tibet”, and she makes herself out to be the best and the winner even before the pageant started, as was clear in Mr Gould’s video.

She only danced to the tunes of Mr Gould, and it so blinded her that it was no more about Tibet or the Tibetan cause. Thousands in the crowd appreciated and celebrated another win for Tibet after Tenzin Yangkyi was crowned, but Dolma only missed the point.

As for Mr Gould, it seems quite clear that he was not filming the Pageant to support Tibet, the Tibetan people, and their culture, as I had originally believed. It seems he was only there to make a film for making money from the Tibetan cause.

I also remember that Mr Gould was asked for help by one of the survivors of the infamous Nangpa la shooting, seen hiding in a mountaineer’s tent in Mr Gould’s successful documentary film “Murder in the Snow”. Mr Gould totally ignored this person’s requests, and never provided any financial support, even though he made money himself from this film.

I can’t agree more with 20th-century Tibetan scholar Gedhun Choephel’s “Beware of yellow-haired monkeys”.

Lobsang Wangyal

There are 10 comments.Have your say at the bottom of the page

  1. Dekhung Gyaltse says:

    Tara has many aspects, Tara has many colour. She can be peaceful, she can be angry. Just like human being.

    If you wrong her, she will take you to next life… and Yama will let you pass without notice – and next life will be horrible.

    Beware the man with two tongues. Have truth, have love, have good life. Have judgement, have poison, have death.

    Love Tara in all aspects, and she will teach you to be a better person.

    [[ Edited slightly to conform with comments policy — Web Admin

  2. Mellissa Anderson says:

    [[ Sorry, this had to be removed because it did not fit our comment guidelines
    [[ in terms of length, and the purpose of the content.
    [[ Please consider reposting in accordance with the guidelines. (If this information
    [[ was “found on the internet” then a link could be provided to the full content.)
    [[ — Web Admin

    • Kyila says:


      Although deprived of the oil of love and altruism,
      Through the skillful means and marvels of technology,
      They show the wrong path to the right man,
      Beware of yellow-haired monkeys!

      • Kunga Dolma says:

        To Kyila,

        While reading your post, it gives me a thought-provoking sensation. I love our society and I admire the culture and traditions that originated from our ancestors. But i prefer to say “beware of the Tibetan dogs running after power and money” rather than yellow haired monkeys (westerners ).

        I personally appreciate the organisation — but there seems to be some fraud, holes, bias, impartiality, and lies somehow, in the core of the organisation. So you must help him (director Lobsang Wangyal) to remove those first.

      • Mel says:

        [[ Sorry, this comment had to be removed.
        [[ Dear Mel, your point is valid, but your expression of it is not in keeping
        [[ with the comments guidelines. Please consider sharing this idea in a way
        [[ that respects everyone.
        [[ — Web Admin

    • Mellissa Anderson says:

      Okay, no problem. I will now post it elsewhere. 😉

  3. Kal says:

    This seems to be the first follow-up official statement to be published since the last, or the most controversial, I would say, Miss Tibet Pageant held in Dharamshala. I watched that documentary broadcast by the Australian media corporation ABC. Having watched that in detail, I wasn’t surprised at all — after all such dodgy things do happen in Tibetan society from time to time. However, one thing did surprise me was that the director, Lobsang Wangyal as named, had not been diligent enough to safeguard the marking sheets. In this whole sham or setup as suggested by the director, the losing the marking sheets (confessed by Lobsang Wangyal) was very unfortunate for him [to be able] to defend his position.

    The range of personal attacks or threats that occurred subsequent to the event, if were true as stated, should be dealt with by due process (legally). That would be the only way to give justice to the beauty pageant itself. Those threats were not just abuse to Mr Wangyal, but they abused Miss Tibet as a whole. Resolving the controversies associated with the Miss Tibet Pageant 2011 by due process is the only way to give a go for next Miss Tibet pageant, if the director intends to keep it going.

    Last, not least, the director seemed to have found a lesson in Gedhun Choephel’s quote. However what I would suggest for him is to keep watch for anyone.

  4. lyn says:

    There is a true feminist movement in Buddhism that relates to the goddess Tārā.
    — His Holiness the Dalai Lama

    Tara looks after all sentient beings and protects them, just as a mother would her children. She is the female figure of Avalokitesvara, and can be modernly defined as the embodiment of feminism; because she is a powerful goddess (or Bodhisattava) who is not only active in protecting all sentient beings, but also has a compassionate side that is easily identifiable by all.

    [[ Original comment translated by Web admin

  5. Danny Heaver says:

    That’s all very interesting,but this of course is slanted from your prospective. The crowd would, of course, all vote for the “local girl”, as crowds everywhere do ( they are patriotic ! )

    I watched the video,and from an unbiased position ( who didn’t care who won ) I thought the wrong girl won. Not just because she was heaps better looking,but more talented.

    It will be very interesting to see what happens next time ( if there is a next time ? )

  6. Tenzin says:

    This document was all about “A journey of one particular Tibetan young woman who comes at that moment to be the victor and not for Fiasco, but unfortunately there has more other candidate who are gorgeous, brilliant, personality, interactive and innovative.”

    That’s what we want, A Miss Tibet

    — Tenzin

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