6th Session of 17th TPiE Reconvenes, Security Report Clears Tibetan MP of Chinese Spy Allegations

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 13 March: The remaining business of the 6th Session of the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPIE) reconvened today to discuss the work reports of the seven departments of the Central Tibetan Administration after it was adjourned and postponed due to a shortage of the required quorum in September 2023.

The session started with Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel in the chair in the presence of the President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Penpa Tsering, and his cabinet ministers and lawmakers.

Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, in his opening remarks today, recapped the discord that occurred during the previous TPIE session due to a member of parliament (MP) accusing another member of being a Chinese spy in September last year. The discord led to several MPs discontinuing their attendance at the session and caused an unexpected adjournment on 22 September. Announcing the adjournment, the speaker then stated, “Today was slated to be the fourth day of the ongoing session. However, some members informed me earlier today that they wouldn’t participate in the proceedings until the Security Department of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) clarified a specific matter.”

In addition to a recap of the said development, the speaker notably outlined the report findings of investigations the Department of Security has carried out regarding the matter. According to the report, the speaker said that a staff member from the Chinese Embassy had spent an overnight at the Mayfair Tea Resort in Siliguri on 6 July 2023. On the same day, MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin visited the Resort with a friend. However, the report filed by the security department on 6 November 2023 clarified that there is no evidential proof of a meeting between the Chinese Embassy staff and MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin, which effectively renders the accusation levelled by MP Dawa Phunkyi false.

Therefore, the speaker announced that a decision to retract the noted allegations and insults exchanged between the two MPs on 19 September during the first day of the sixth session has been made.

The speaker then expressed words of thanks to the administration and the Security Department for their investigation report. He added that the ‘issue’ is now clarified and urged every MP to ensure that they don’t indulge in false and baseless accusations and allegations in the future.

Speaking to the media during the lunch break, MP Monlam Tharchin said, “I am aware of my perspective and principle, whether it’s about my political standpoint or reverence to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, that it’s clear I don’t have a connection with the enemy China.” He reasoned his stubborn stand against the allegations levelled at him during the session last year as a necessary means to prevent and tackle “baseless controversies spawning in our society by using what’s said within the parliament.” In addition, recognising that various baseless allegations are being created on social media, he urged all “not to resort to and engage in such actions as it benefits nobody.”

MP Dawa Phunkyi, facing the media, reiterated what had transpired in the morning session today. “Since the speaker has clarified and made a decision on the matter with all MPs in agreement and moving forward with the session, I have nothing special to say about it,” he said.

The Tibetan parliament comprises 45 members: ten members each from U-Tsang, Do-tod, and Do-med, the three traditional provinces of Tibet; two members each from the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon faith; two members each from Europe and North America; and a member representing Tibetans in Asia and Australasia (excluding India, Nepal, and Bhutan).

The TPIE holds sessions twice a year, with a budget session in March and a general session in September.

The remaining business of the 6th Session of the 17th TPIE will be conducted from March 13th to March 16th.  

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