Allegations Spark Heated Debate, Lack of Quorum Forces Parliament Adjournment

DHARAMSALA, 22 Sept: The 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPIE) faced an unexpected adjournment today due to a lack of quorum, following a heated series of discussions on Thursday.

The session, meant to mark the 4th day of the sixth session of the 17th TPIE, couldn’t proceed as planned due to insufficient attendance. Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel announced the adjournment, stating, “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.”

The matter in question revolved around allegations regarding a meeting between senior MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin and a staff member from the Chinese Embassy. 

According to Article 49 of the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, a minimum of two-thirds of the total lawmakers must be present for the house to proceed. Only 24 lawmakers(excluding the Speaker) attended the session, falling short of the required quorum.

Senior MP Dawa Phunkyi brought the issue to light, accusing MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin of escorting a Chinese spy across Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Gangtok in Sikkim, a state in northeast India. 

The accusation was raised during a point of order on the first day of the sixth session. This sparked a series of confrontations between the lawmakers, leading to a protracted discussion on Thursday, occupying almost the entire portion of the day’s proceedings.

While MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin called on MP Dawa Phunkyi to substantiate the accusation, as of now, no definitive evidence has been produced by MP Dawa Phunkyi.

The Security Department of the CTA became involved in the matter after MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin responded to the accusation by stating that the Security Kalon had mentioned something similar the previous day, referring to it as a significant and baseless accusation.

The unfolding situation has revealed an ongoing investigation by the Security Department, irrespective of whether the reported meeting took place. This inquiry was initiated based on intelligence received regarding the senior MP’s alleged meeting with Chinese embassy staff and what was communicated during that meeting.

The senior MP has been fully cooperative with the ongoing investigation. He even recommended that the Security Department review the CCTV footage from the hotel where the alleged meeting is said to have occurred.

While the disruption hampered the scheduled business proceedings of the parliament, the Speaker urged MP Phunkyi to retract his statement, a request that was met with the MP dismissing it as an impulsive reaction akin to a child’s response in anger. 

The delay has pushed the parliamentary agenda off schedule, hindering the discussion of the world re[port of the departments of the CTA and critical matters concerning the Tibetan community in exile. 

Upon our visit to the Parliament Secretariat to gather information regarding the daily expenses of the house proceedings, the Secretariat recommended reaching out to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker for the required details. Regrettably, both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were not accessible for statements at that time.

In the meantime, with the house adjourned until further notice due to a lack of quorum, 20 MPs visited and addressed Tibetans from Shirim Mimang (The Advocacy of the General Public for the Sustainability of CTA) who had assembled at the Basketball Ground Court near Ganchen Kyishong calling on the 17th TPiE for amendments to the Charter of Tibetans in exile.

Stay tuned for updates as this situation continues to unfold.

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