Speaker Pema Jungney resigns

Pema Jungney in a June 2016 file photo.

Pema Jungney in a June 2016 file photo. TibetanParliament.org

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 8 April 2021

Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Pema Jungney has resigned as both Speaker and member of Parliament.

Jungney posted about his resignation on his Facebook page earlier today.

His resignation was triggered following the clarification of the clauses of the Tibetan Charter by former Tibetan political leader Samdhong Rinpoche.

“I resigned following Samdhong Rinpoche’s statements in the Voice of Tibet interview, as I cannot take responsibility, [… ghen soeki yoe marey], not that I accept any wrongdoing,” Pema Jungney told Tibet Sun.

“Rinpoche was in the Charter drafting committee, Charter amendment drafting committee, and also in enacting the Charter into law. Unlike others, when Rinpoche speaks there is a difference.”

When asked for clarification about what he meant by “cannot take responsibility”, no further explanation was given.

Rinpoche found that the members of the Tibetan Parliament had violated many of the clauses of the Charter when they impeached and deposed the Chief Justice Commissioner and two other Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission.

The Tibetan Parliament had dismissed the three Justices on 25 March following a two-thirds majority vote through secret ballot.

The Parliament charged that the Justices unlawfully took suo moto [taking action on their own] cognisance in penalising the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and nine Standing Committee Members for their decision to scrap the September 2020 session of the Parliament over Coronavirus concerns.

The Justices, taking suo moto initiative, had found that the scrapping of the September session violated Article 40 of the Tibetan Charter, which requires the Parliament to be in session every six months.

Another member of Parliament, Lobsang Choejor representing Amdo province, also resigned on similar grounds of taking moral responsibility after Samdhong Rinpoche’s clarifications.

Samdhong Rinpoche, in an interview to Voice of Tibet radio, said that the dismissal of the three Justices has created a “constitutional breakdown”, as the Tibetan Charter does not allow for all three Justices to be dismissed at the same time.

Rinpoche also found that according to Article 54, an inquiry committee should be formed, giving full chance for the accused justices to present their arguments, and then hold parliamentary discussion on the report submitted by the inquiry committee.

No such inquiry committee was formed, and the three justices were dismissed within less than two hours on the morning of 25 March.

The Parliament will be in session at the end of May to appoint a new Chief Justice and the other two justices.

An anonymous letter, said to be written by three senior staff members and widely circulated on social media, wrote that a plan has been hatched to appoint Pema Jungney as the Chief Justice, and Deputy Speaker Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok and CTA’s Minister of Health Choekyong Wangchuk as the other two justices.

Regarding the anonymous letter, Jungney said that it was baseless. “These allegations are all rumours. I see no reason to respond to such ‘fake news’.”

A new Tibetan political leader (Sikyong) is being elected by the exile Tibetans on 11 April in the final round of voting, and will be taking oath of office at the end of May. The oath will have to be administered by the Chief Justice.

This story has been updated with quotes from Pema Jungney.

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