By Kyinzom Dhongdue/ Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
29 March 2021
We are living in a time of great upheaval that brings both challenges and opportunities for Tibet. China’s relationship with world governments has evolved dramatically since 2020. Covid-19 safety concerns, although genuine, should not have prevented our Parliament from meeting last year and debating on the opportunities that this change presents for Tibet. Options to convene our session in a Covid-safe manner were available to us: We could have all met online, or a handful could have sat in the chamber with the majority joining remotely. The 16th Parliament failed to fulfil both constitutional and political responsibilities by not holding a session in September 2020. As a sitting MP, I accept my responsibility for this dereliction of duty.
Our democratic institutions are among our greatest assets. They are the seeds of the government we will one day rightfully re-establish in Tibet. We have to do better than how the Parliament behaved this past week, resulting in the unfair dismissal of the Chief Justice and two Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission. The decision is as unwise as it is unjust. Moreover, it sets a dangerous precedent for MPs to overreach with their parliamentary powers and privileges.
The decision, made in only a few hours, raises serious concerns over how the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile conducts its businesses. MPs are afforded little to no time to engage in careful considerations of the issues presented to us, even one as consequential as this, often compelling members to vote based on one’s affiliation to groups or factions and not on their own merit.
The democratic institutions that Tibetans have built under His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s leadership is a key pillar in our freedom struggle and, if nurtured and protected, will serve us well long into the future. They are no place for muscle-flexing, massaging of individual egos or factionalism. Decisions such as that made by the Parliament last week weaken these very institutions and betray those who put their faith in us as their elected representatives. We are a young democracy. But we can do better than this. Let us reflect on this moment and where we go from here.
(Kyinzon Dhongdue is a Member of Parliament from Australia)