The title of this post comes from a line in a Tibetan street song sung in Lhasa during China’s invasion of Tibet referring to the incompetence (“witless”) and cowardice (“foxes”) of Ngabo (“governor-general” of Eastern Tibet) and his Lhasa officials (“band”):
From among one hundred men Commander Muja is the most able, The witless gang of foxes are the governor-general and his band.
On December 23, 2009 Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, a former minister in the Tibetan government passed away in Beijing at the age of ninety-nine. As a controversial figure during and after the People’s Liberation Army’s Invasion of Tibet in 1950, Ngabo’s death led to the emergence of many mixed reactions regarding his legacy on Tibetan history. On February 2nd, 2010, Jamyang Norbu, an influential Tibetan political activist and writer, stated his continued support for his analysis of Ngabo as a treasonous traitor in a reiteration of his journal article titled “Deconstructing Ngabo,” that was first published in the Tibet Review in May 1980. Much earlier in an April 4th, 1998 interview, Tibetan historian Tsering Shakya explained how “most Tibetans despised [Ngabo] as a traitor,” and that “the Chinese [used] him to legitimise their rule.” In Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1997 film “Seven Years in Tibet,” Ngabo was depicted conspiring with the Chinese and sabotaging the Tibetan resistance effort in 1950. In contrast, earlier on December 24th, 2009, a statement issued by the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, described Ngabo as “a great patriot, renowned social activist, good son of Tibetan people, outstanding leader of China’s ethnic work and close friend of the CPC.” On that same day, a statement issued by the Kashag (Cabinet) of the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE) also similarly eulogized Ngabo’s legacy as “Honest and patriotic” and as “someone who upheld the spirit of the Tibetan people.” However, contrary to these accounts by the CPC and the TGIE, Ngabo Ngawang Jigme’s actions during the invasion of Tibet in 1950 were not “patriotic” and in the “spirit of the Tibetan people”; rather, they were incompetent, and harmful, and paved the way to the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet.