News and Views on Tibet

Europe Tibetan MP replaced over failure to attend two consecutive sessions, MP cites COVID-19 travel ban

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By Tenzin Dharpo

DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 3: Tibetan Member of Parliament for Europe and South America Ven. Thubten Wangchen has been replaced following his failure to attend two consecutive parliamentary sessions. The Tibetan MP has however cited the Indian government’s ban on entry of any passengers from European countries as the cause of his failure to attend the recent budget session of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.

Former MP Thubten Wangchen in a pre-recorded video posted on his Facebook account today said that he could not attend the latest session despite exploring every option available to him. Wangchen said that he was supposed to fly the day when the Indian government implemented a ban on entry of passengers form Italy, Spain and Germany where the COVID-19 virus had hit hard.

The MP said that he could not attend the previous parliamentary session as well as he was touring 30 nations in Europe to highlight the Tibetan cause.

The Speaker of the TPiE Pema Jungney said that while he rule-bound in enacting the withdrawal of the MP. “We had to curb the latest parliamentary session to just a day because of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has also barred MP Thubten Wangchen from attending the session. Despite our best efforts with the Foreign ministry to permit his entry into the country, it didn’t happen. So it was that he could not attend rather than him not attending,” the Speaker said.

As per the Tibetan Charter, any legislator who fails to attend two consecutive parliamentary sessions is automatically removed from the position and another appointed in his/her stead. The candidate in waiting, Wangpo Tethong has been notified by the Chief Election Commissioner Wangdue Tsering to takeover.

MP Thubten Wangchen was elected into both the 15th and the 16th Tibetan Parliament in Exile. His tenure of 10 years split between two terms has been cut short by a year. The founder of the ‘Tibet House Foundation’ in Barcelona, Spain expressed gratitude for the opportunity he had to serve the Tibetan people and urged his constituents to support the new MP Wangpo Tethong.

The two standing MPs from Europe and South America of the Tibetan parliament in Exile are Jampa Tsering Samdho and Wangpo Tethong.





3 Responses

  1. Rules is a rule and must be followed as such. Tsoktso said he tried everything possible and were in discussion with Wangchen la.

  2. Namdak la, I can not agree you more. The speaker of the parliament failed to even write an official letter to Chitue Wangchen la. Instead they sent a message via WhatsApp; That is an absolute joke.
    It is very disheartening to see what has been done for the award winning Chitue candidate like Kushok Wangchen la. He has worked so hard for the cause of Tibet.

    This time it’s a global lockdown due to a pandemic, no one has control over anything. This absence should be pardoned because of the outbreak. Any of the Chitues who could not show up for one day Chitue session, should not be penalized. This is again a very poor decision from the higher ups at Dharamsala.

  3. Appeal for common sense rules please!

    Should rules that govern us be so rigid that they cannot accommodate any unforeseen emergencies. I am not writing about any of our personal or social rules, but I am writing about the rule of The Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament). Under the rule, a parliament member is automatically removed if he or she is absent for two consecutive parliament sessions. In fact unfortunately, this rule was recently applied to a parliament member from Europe, Ven. Thubten Wangchen la.

    This would have been more reasonable if the absence was for personal reason and the world is not in lock down mode as it is now. Wangchen la was unable to attend the recent budget session in March due to this global pandemic. As we are all aware, Italy, Spain and much of Europe are already affected in large numbers with Covid-19 around mid March. Obviously Wangchen la was unable to travel despite having everything ready.

    Wangchen la missed the last parliament session held in September 2019 as he was on a 30 European countries tour to promote “Tibet-China dialogue for peace”. Someone might think why did he not plan the tour so that he could also attend the parliament session. For those, I would say think about all the logistics including weather when traveling 30 countries spanning more than two months and who would have thought this pandemic could happen.

    So, as a concerned Tibetan, it is disheartening when such rules are applied without any consideration. Wangchen la did not miss even one prior parliament sessions since his assuming the duty in 2011. The Speaker and the standing committee members of the parliament, however, have made the decision and Wangchen la has accepted the decision with grace. I am sure Wangchen la has no regrets as he did his best during his time as a parliamentarian. While Tibetan people are witness to his good work, it is also worth noting that he did many of those activities including visiting his constituencies spending money out of his own pocket.

    I have the following questions for the Speaker and the standing committee members of the Parliament. 1) How is it that you changed the rule to finish the budget session in only one day but not this rule? 2) Are you going to stick to this rule should the global pandemic persists (hope and pray not) through September 2020 and many more parliament members become subject to this rule? and 3) Was there any precedence to relax this rule to any parliament member?

    I appeal to the Speaker, members of the parliament and others in the government that they should look into such rules and think of a better way to deal with such situations in the future. This situation should and could have been handled better than what was just done.

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