By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, March 18: The members of the 15th Kashag (Tibetan cabinet) of the Central Tibetan Administration(CTA) staged a walkout of the 3rd Session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile(TPiE) on the fifth Day of the 2017-2018 budget session.
The 15th Kashag of the CTA staged a walkout of the parliamentary proceedings in protest against the non-inclusion of suggestions to do away with the existing two round electoral process for Sikyong and Parliamentarians in the report of the Parliamentary Committee to initiate reforms in the electoral system.
The two stage electoral process – preliminary and final – for the Sikyong and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament which spanned over 9 to 10 months has left a lot to be desired. The electoral process became a major topic for discussion and debate among the general public as well as among the legislators in the House.
The 16th TPiE passed a resolution (2016/16/1/5 (9)) during its first session, to from a five-member committee to review and initiate reforms in the Tibetan electoral process. The review committee was constituted on Jun 14 and began functioning on Jun 20 to review the Tibetan electoral process.
The committee is chaired by Finance Kalon Karma Yeshi with MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin as the Committee Secretary and Chief Election Commissioner Shosur Sonam Choephel, MP Pema Jungney and MP Gyari Thar as members.
The committee read out its report formed on the basis of opinions gathered from the general public and parliamentary discussions to initiate reforms in the Tibetan electoral process.
When suggestions to do away with the existing two round electoral process for Sikyong and Parliamentarians did not figure in the report by the review committee, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay objected.
After an explanation by the Secretary of the review committee, MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin, Sikyong Sangay declared that the Kashag won’t take part in the proceedings and the Kashag led by Sikyong Sangay walked out in protest on the fifth day of the 3rd Session of the 16th TPiE.
Finance Kalon Karma Yeshi and Chief Election Commissioner Shosur Sonam Choephel are said to have raised their opinion to do away with the existing two round of electoral process for Sikyong and Parliamentarians during the review committee’s meeting. But they were out voted by the Secretary and two other members of the committee.
After the Kashag staged its walkout protest of the parliamentary proceedings, Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel continued with the proceedings as 33 parliamentarians voted, through raise of hands, in support of the discussion on the review committee’s report to be continued in the Parliament, whereas only two parliamentarians, Aduk Tsetan and Lobsang Dakpa objected.
However, the Speaker was forced to dismiss the afternoon proceedings midway till 3:15 pm as his message to the Kashag through the Kashag Secretariat to attend the afternoon proceedings on budget fell on deaf ears. The parliamentary proceedings resumed with only the Finance Kalon and Chairperson of the electoral review committee in attendance. But the Speaker was again forced to postpone the proceedings till Monday due to arguments over whether the parliamentary proceedings should continue without all the members of the Kashag in attendance.
In the past, during Professor Samdhong Rinpoche’s tenure as the Kalon Tripa, the parliamentary proceedings were suspended when the then Kashag staged a walkout of the parliamentary proceedings.