By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 8 June 2021
Protem Speaker Dawa Tsering took oath before Chief Justice Commissioner Sonam Norbu Dagpo at 9am, and then administered oath of office to all the ten members of Amdo, nine from U-Tsang, two from Europe, and one from North America, at 10am.
In the meantime all the 20 elected members from Kham and religious sects, one member from U-Tsang Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, and one of the two from North America Tenzin Jigme, took oath before the portrait of the Dalai Lama.
However, according to Article 47 of the Tibetan Charter it is mandated that newly-elected members must take oath before the Protem Speaker.
The next event after the oath was to elect the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the 17th House at 2pm, but the Election Commission Wangdu Tsering Pesur announced that the Protem Speaker has reported only 21 members as having taken oath.
Pesur then said that there wasn’t a quorum to go ahead with election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, quoting Article 49 of the Charter that requires at least two-thirds of the total members to fulfil the quorum for conducting any business.
It took only about 20 minutes for Pesur to make these announcements, after which he left. His decision implied that the members who took oath before the Dalai Lama’s portrait would not be recognised.
Moments after Pesur’s exit, the 21 members who took oath before the Protem Speaker came out, but they all left within 20 minutes.
Later, four members — two from Kham and two from religious sects — approached the Election Commission Pesur, in an attempt to get recognition for their oath. Apparently the Election Commission upheld his decision, and rejected their oath before the portrait of the Dalai Lama.
A later announcement from the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission stated that the oath of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker has been postponed indefinitely, as it remains uncertain when their election could take place.
The members who are refusing to take oath before the Protem Speaker say that Chief Justice and the other two Justice Commissioners have resumed their duties even after they have been dismissed by the Parliament following a majority vote.
Ironically, the Standing Committee members of the previous Parliament appointed Dawa Tsering as the Protem Speaker, and most of those members have been re-elected to the new Parliament — yet now they are not taking oath from him.
Ven Thupten Wangchen representing Tibetans in Europe, who has tried to pacify the two sides, said that the idea to take oath before either the Protem Speaker or the portrait of the Dalai Lama was plausible to reach a common ground.
“As a law-abiding citizen, I took oath according to the rules enshrined in the Charter. But because of this I have been receiving emails, messages, and calls protesting this act.”
Wangchen said that it was important to think of the bigger picture, in order to have a successful and stable Central Tibetan Administration to sustain the struggle until the goal for a free Tibet is achieved.
“I do not have any reason to side with anyone. My conscience is very clear. I will abide by the law, think of the six million Tibetans and the three provinces of Tibet and the path shown by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
One of the 22 members who took oath before the portrait of the Dalai Lama was Tenzing Jigme, a representative from North America.
“I took the oath before the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama because this option was given by the Parliament secretary. I went this way because I have reservations about the way the three justice commissioners reinstated themselves without following due process.”
“I agree that they have been expelled without any valid reason. The Parliament has violated Article 54 of the Charter in expelling the three. Who’s right or wrong is a different matter, but without doing something about Resolution 39 that’s still pending in the Parliament, it’s a problem and that makes their re-entry unlawful.”
“Quoting Article 5 is alright, but to make the resolution null and void, it must be withdrawn to effect the Article. Therefore, I felt taking oath before the Protem Speaker was unlawful,” Jigme said.
Lobsang Gyatso Sither, a member representing U-Tsang, who took oath before the Protem Speaker, said, “I am honoured to take the oath as per Article 47 of the Charter of the Tibetans-in-exile this morning, and I stand by my research-based article published in Phayul on March 28th 2021 regarding the unconstitutional removal of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commissioners.
“The removal is a violation of Article 54 and 66, and then via Article 5 any such resolution becomes null and void. So, to answer your question, to me they are not unlawful.”