Tibetan Parliament crisis continues with no end in sight

Aduk Tsetan representing Gelug sect speaks during a press briefing outside the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile on 12 June 2021.

Aduk Tsetan representing Gelug sect speaks during a press briefing outside the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile on 12 June 2021. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 12 June 2021

The ongoing crisis of the Tibetan Parliament, which has seen two factions challenging each other over the validity of taking oath before the Protem Speaker, continues with no end in sight.

One group, consisting of ten members elected from Kham province and ten from five religious sects, one member from U-Tsang, and one from North America, continue to refuse take oath before the Protem Speaker, stating that he had taken oath before the Chief Justice who they say is occupying the post unlawfully.

They took oath before the portrait of the Dalai Lama and the Charter of the Tibetans-in-exile on the day of swearing-in on 8 June. However the Election Commission disqualified their oath, citing Article 47 of the Tibetan Charter.

The other faction, consisting of ten members from Amdo province and nine from U-Tsang, two from Europe, and one from North America, have taken their oath before the Protem Speaker, the way Article 47 has mandated.

At two separate press briefings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, both factions said that they wouldn’t budge from their positions.

Spokespersons for the Kham and religious members, Dorjee Tsetan and Adruk Tsetan, said that the oath before the portrait of the Dalai Lama was officially arranged by the Parliamentary Secretary. But this was criticised by representatives from the other faction Gangri and Dhondup Tashi saying that was not according to the Charter, and that the Secretary had been forced by the other faction to make that arrangement.

Adruk Tsetan said that taking oath before the portrait of the Dalai Lama could be acceptable considering Article 1 of the Charter. This article pertains to the Dalai Lama being the protector and symbol of Tibet and Tibetan people, and the he would provide guidance and suggestions on matters concerning the welfare of Tibetan people, society, religion, and politics.

Dawa Phunkyi, a member representing U-Tsang, retorted that those who objected to Deputy Speaker attending the swearing-in ceremony of the new Sikyong Penpa Tsering, when the Dalai Lama was attending virtually, are now asking to take oath before his portrait.

The Standing committee members of the 16th Parliament, mostly from Kham and religious sects, who asked the Deputy Speaker not to attend the swearing-in ceremony, were re-elected to the 17th Parliament, and are refusing to take oath before the Protem Speaker.

Asked about the validity of the swearing-in of the new Sikyong Penpa Tsering, as he took oath before the Chief Justice Sonam Norbu Dagpo, after the seal of power — Kadham Sishi Dekima — was handed over by the outgoing Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, Adruk Tsetan said they are not touching that issue.

With regard to the validity of the oath taken before the Protem Speaker by 21 members, Adruk Tsetan had a similar answer.

The Chief Justice and the two other Justice Commissioners had been dismissed by the Parliament on 25 March, with Motion No 39 receiving the required two-thirds majority of the members.

The three justice commissioners recused themselves from their duties on 26 March citing conflict of interest, leaving without accepting any guilt.

However, they resumed their duties after a two-month hiatus, to which one faction objected and refused to accept them as re-entering the office lawfully.

“The resolution passed through Motion No 39 is still live in the Parliament. Until and unless that document is withdrawn, the three justice commissioners are not lawful,” said Dorjee Tsetan.

To this, Dhondup Tashi said that Motion No 39 has been rendered null and void because it was passed on unlawful grounds, and that Article 5 of the Charter invalidates any laws, executive orders, and regulations that are in violation of any of the provisions of the Charter.


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