(TibetanReview.net, Sep20, 2017) – The fourth session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament in Exile opened at Dharamshala on Sep 19 with the main agenda to discuss the annual work reports of the seven departments of the Central Tibetan Administration. The parliament is also expected to discuss several contentious issues during its current session which will conclude on Sep 28.
A point of order was raised immediately after the Speaker’s opening remarks, with MP Mr Dawa Phunkyi protesting against the Kashag’s alleged accusation that exile Tibetan MPs had been turning their back on their responsibilities, ignoring His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s wishes and provisions of the Charter of the Tibetan People in Exile as well as laws, rules and regulations framed thereunder. He felt that this had left the parliament in exile in a position of being unable to carry on its legislative function until that issue was resolved.
But Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel ruled otherwise, contending that the Kashag had since withdrawn all the correspondences containing the allegations, resulting in, in his view, the accusation being dropped. Both Dawa Phunkyi and MP Thupten Lungrig sought to refute the ruling, but the Speaker chose to move on, saying there will be opportunity to discuss the issue in the coming days in whatever manner or form it may be decided.
Besides, according to a Tibetsun.com report Sep 19, there had been correspondences between the exile parliament and the Kashag over several issues, with the former charging the latter of unilaterally deciding issues that required parliamentary approval. These reportedly included the Kashag’s adoption of the English title “President” for the existing Tibetan one of “Sikyong”, its decision on a new seating protocol of the CTA at official functions and ceremonies, which placed the Sikyong at the top in a change from the previous order which had the Supreme Justice Commissioner of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission on top, followed by the Speaker and Sikyong in that order.
The first day’s discussions focused on five resolutions, which were passed unanimously. They included expressions of mourning over the passing away of the 103rd Gaden Tripa Kyabje Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche; the 33rd Kyabje Menri Trizin, head of Tibet’s pre-Buddhist religion Bonism; self-immolators Pema Gyaltsen, Wangchuk Tseten, Chagdor Kyab and Jamyang Losel; self-immolators Tenzin Choeying and Dhondup, and former exile Tibetan MP Ms Zongkhatsang Tsering Dolma. The parliament also passed a unanimous resolution expressing solidarity with the Tibetan people in Tibet for their current suffering under Chinese rule.
Followers of the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism who have for long been clamouring for separate religious seats in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile – alongside those for the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug and Bon religious traditions – lobbied for support for their cause, including by distributing documents outside the parliament building. The issue had come up once in a past session of the current parliament but was defeated when put to vote.