New exile Tibetan minister’s oath-taking held up over constitutional issue

Kalon Mr Topgyal Tsering Zongkha. (Photo courtesy:

(, Mar31’19) – The exile Tibetans’ apex court was reported to have refused to administer the oath of office to a new Kalon (Minister) for failing to secure “not less than 50 percent of the votes” as mandated by the Charter of Tibetans in Exile. A total of 21 out of 43 exile Tibetan MPs had voted for Mr Topgyal Tsering Zongkha, currently Secretary of the Kashag Secretariat.

Although 50 percent of 43 is 21.5, Speaker Pema Jungney had declared prior to voting that the winner will have to secure at least 21votes, given the parliament’s rule book list of numbers, which details how vote numbers are to be determined on the basis of ignoring decimal points. In this connection the Speaker has also said the Charter requires decimal fractions to be ignored when arriving at percentage of votes polled.

On the other hand, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission was reported to have pointed to Article 22 of the Charter which requires that a candidate needed to secure not less than 50 percent of the total votes to be declared elected whereas the declared winner had secured what amounted to only 48.84 percent of the total.

Perhaps the candidate should have been deemed elected if he had polled not 21 but 22 votes, given that 21 was less than 50 percent? But that would require revising the rule book list.

But Speaker Pema Jungney has also responded to the Commission’s note of objection by pointing to Article 58 of the Charter which denies jurisdiction to the later with regard to certain aspects of the functioning of the parliament in exile – and its decisions – and over its members. This Article says, firstly, that the commission cannot inquire into the question whether the parliament had complied with its own rules and regulations in its functioning or finalization of decisions. Secondly, the Article says the Commission has no jurisdiction over any member of parliament with regard to his or her exercise of powers granted under the Charter while taking part in the drafting of the system of functioning of the parliament and its rules and regulations.


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