DHARAMSALA, 8 June: Members of the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile (TPIE) took their oath of office today in an unprecedented manner but couldn’t elect a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the house.
Twenty-one MPs of the Tibetan Parliament took their oath of office from the pro-tem Speaker Dawa Tsering who was administered the oath by the Chief Justice Commissioner who was removed by the TPIE in March while 22 MPs who held it unlawful took their oath in front of the Charter and a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The proposal of a uniform oath-taking ceremony of the 17th TPIE from the pro-tem Speaker after he takes the oath before the portrait of the Dalai Lama has failed to reach the consensus at the meetings and deliberations held between MPs representing the three provinces and four schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as North America and Europe, the different constituency of the Tibetan parliament.
As such, deriving from the normal protocol, the lawmakers of the 17 TPIE were left to choose how they will take the oath of office from the two options as proposed by the MPs from North America and Europe to conciliate the MPs at either end of the equation.
Thupten Wangchen and Dhondup Tsering, Tibetan MP from American and Europe said that the solution came about with an open mind acknowledging the difference in opinion and the problem with the rules and regulations and by realizing that the crisis will only deepen if the house fails to hold its session.
The duo said both the oath-taking was concluded successfully for both groups and that they took the oath from the pro-tem Speaker.
MP Dawa Phunkyi also said that “I took the oath of office from the pro-tem Speaker in accordance with Article 47 of the Tibetan Charter.”
MP Lobsang Gyatso Sithar also said that he took the oath of office from the pro-tem Speaker in accordance with Article 47 of the Tibetan Charter when enquired about the legitimacy of the impeached justices resumption of their offices responded by calling their removal “unconstitutional.”
While the justices were impeached by the 16th TPIE with two-thirds support in the house, he added that “if a resolution goes against the Charter, it is not a resolution.”
After the MPs took their oath of office in the morning, the business of the day came to an abrupt end in the afternoon after the Chief Election Commissioner(CEC) Wangdu Tsering Pesur has told the Tibetan legislatures that the election of the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker can not be conducted as he said he was handed over the list of 21 MPs by the pro-tem Speaker that he said falls short of the house quorum following which all the MPs who took oath from the pro-tem Speaker walked out out the house.
While the CEC refused to comment over the matter, the pro-tem Speaker Dawa Tsering said that he went to submit the list of 21 MPs who took their oath of office from me to the Election Commission.
The pro-tem Speaker said that “the CEC came and said that the house falls short of the quorum mandated by Article 49 as such the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker and the standing committee of the TPIE can not be conducted now and that it can resume only when the house meets quorum.”
The unprecedented manner in which the members of the 17th TPIE took the oath of office today was necessitated after the Chief Justice Commissioner and the two Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission impeached by the Tibetan parliament in March performed a u-turn and announced their resumption to offices nearly two months after accepting their impeachment though they called it illegitimate.
MP Dorjee Tsetan who took oath in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s portrait said that “everyone knows there is no set of rules and regulations for the present oath-taking ceremony.”
He further stated that after the removed former justices returned to their offices with total disregard to every rules and regulation, internal discussions and deliberations were held among the MPs to move forward from the impasse.
“After the oath-taking ceremony scheduled for 22 May had to be cancelled owing to the law of the land, two representatives each from three provinces, two from the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as North America and Europe met twice,” he said.
He further spoke about the need for everyone to be responsible to weather the storm.
“The 17th TPIE could meet for the session, that was our goal,” he said but added that he “was saddened by the disregard for the opinion of the majority.”
The EC when approached said “he received a list of 21 MPs who took the oath of office from the pro-tem Speaker,” Tsetan said and added that a list prepared by the Parliament Secretary of the 44 elected lawmakers who took the oath of office was submitted to the EC.
“When enquired what provision allows the pro-tem Speaker to submit documents to the EC, he responded by saying I don’t know, I took it as it was handed over to me,” he said and added that the EC, however, after examining the document signed by the Parliament Secretary has said that he will get back after discussing with the Parliament Secretary.