By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 8: The maiden engagement of the new Tibetan Parliament in Exile was mired in controversy as the house stood divided during the oath taking ceremony held on Tuesday. 21 MPs took oath of office from the Pro-tem Speaker Dawa Tsering, the longest-serving candidate in the parliament, who was sworn in by the Chief Justice Commissioner Sonam Norbu Dagpo. The other 22 MPs in attendance took the oath in front of the Charter and a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in an apparent show of their non-recognition of the Pro-tem Speaker and the judges of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission. Australasia representative Tenzin Phuntsok Doring was unable to attend the ceremony due to Covid-19 restrictions in Australia.
The Pro-tem Speaker Dawa Tsering said that they had to halt the scheduled parliamentary session to choose the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker as per the orders of the Election Commission (EC), noting the absence of 2/3rd quorum during the official ceremony.
Europe MP Thupten Wangchen spoke to the press after he took oath from the Pro-tem Speaker, “To avoid any unnecessary conflict in our community and since the Chinese government is closely observing what is going on over here, I accept both the swearing-in ceremonies.” North American MP Thondup Tsering also said that the acceptance of both the ceremonies need consideration, “Even though the MPs took oath in two different ways today, I think it is imperative to accept that everyone have been able to take the necessary oaths for the respective offices.”
MP Dorjee Tseten, former Standing Committee member who was among those who took their oath in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s portrait told the press, “I think, personally, we could have gone ahead with the process to elect the new speaker and deputy speaker as 44 members of the parliament took oath of office. But where in the Charter is it mentioned that the Pro-tem Speaker could go to the EC for intervention?”
The impasse, many say, may yet bring more road blocks for the 17th TPiE which is without a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. The house that is deeply divided, observers say, can impede the very purpose that they were elected for in the first place, which is to serve the people. A Tibetan living in the United States who spoke to Phayul on the condition of anonymity said, “The beginning could not have been more tragic for the new parliament and the concerned authorities. If they keep squabbling among themselves, then when will they do their jobs? As a common middle class person, living pay check to pay check, it is concerning and disheartening at the same time that the people we elected are not up to the task, yet again.”