DHARAMSHALA, September 21: The Tibetan Parliament in Exile this afternoon donned a deserted look as more than two-thirds of the MPs chose to sit out the after-lunch session as a gesture of protest against a remark made by a legislator earlier in the day.
In April this year, Tibetan MP Dawa Tsering was awarded the ‘Songtsen award’ in a function where one of the main guests included a Secretary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s private office, Lobsang Jinpa.
MP Tenpa Yarphel said he felt disappointment that a fellow MP Dawa Tsering who is the accused in a corruption case of claiming ownership of a public property, is publicly being felicitated by the Dalai Lama’s private office. He said, “When people ask me about the Yongling School case, I tell them that if the Dalai Lama’s office sees it fit to honor the corrupt individual, then it is pointless that the rest of us say anything about it,” MP Yarphel told the house.
MP Dawa Phunkyi mentioned that the award was in fact not associated with the Dalai Lama’s office, and chose to leave the proceedings until the statement was withdrawn. This was followed by several other legislators leaving the proceedings. The after lunch session was adjourned, as the mandatory two-third attendance was not reached following the walkout by majority of the legislators over the incident.
The impasse was finally blown over in the final session of the day when the President Dr. Lobsang Sangay said the Kashag (Cabinet) made necessary inquiry to the office of the Dalai Lama wherein it was revealed that the secretary had attended the function in his personal capacity and that there is no association between the ‘Songtsen award’ and the office of the Dalai Lama.
The proceedings in the house was further quelled when MP Tenpa Yarphel said he is withdrawing his statement. The Speaker of the TPiE Khenpo Sonam Tenphel in view of the incident said that legislators have the responsibility of presenting factual statement in the parliament.
MP Dawa Tsering, the Director of the Yongling School, is accused of claiming ownership of the school, which a certified lawyer from the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission says is a public property. The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission and the District Court in Dharamshala ruled that the school belonged to the Tibetan community.
In his defense, former settlement officer and MP Dawa Tsering has earlier said, according to Tibet Sun, that the District Court in Dharamshala upheld the verdict of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, however the Tibetan Commission has no authority to decide on property issues.