Dharamshala, India — TPI Reporters Nikhil Kujur and Kalsang Choetso interviewed Pema Jungney, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and talked about the budget session of the parliament. The session was opened by the new Speaker Pema Jungney. He took over the charge from Khenpo Sonam Tenphel in December in the five-year term sharing between them.
Q1) Honorable Speaker, can you give a short Introduction on the recent Parliament session?
A1) Usually, in Charter of Tibetans-in-Exile, we have to summon parliament session within six months and thus we have two sessions every year. When the Charter was first adopted it was called Summer session and Winter session. Since the expenditure of the CTA in exile is mostly spent in India. We summon our Budget Session (Summer Session) after Indian Budget Session is over, otherwise we cannot estimate our budget.
Therefore, every year in March, we hold our Budget session and in this session, we are mainly focused on budget estimate for the upcoming financial year. The Financial year starts from April 1st to March 31st.
Today being April 1st, the new financial year has started. During Budget session, it is not only related to Central Tibetan Administration's departmental accounts and budget, but we take into consideration Tibetan people's welfare and their problems which were accounted to the ministers of the respective departments by Members of Tibetan Parliament when they visited various Tibetan settlements, by departmental staff or directly by common people.
Members of Parliament asked questions and clarifications to the ministers in the session and accordingly the ministers answer it or explain it. Thus this session is not only carried forward with the budget of CTA but we try to solve people's problems as well.
Q2) What kind of resolutions have been discussed most and which resolution got majority support and Why? Which important resolutions passed Unanimously and which are not?
A2) We proposed six official resolutions of mourning. The first resolution was to condole the demise of Supreme Head of Nyingma tradition Katthok Getse Rinpoche, who passed away last year. Then, Tibetan self - Immolator Dopo from Amdo Ngapa, who self-immolated and died for Tibet and Tibetan cause. The Former speaker of 7th Tibetan Parliament session, Former Kalon Lodi Gyari Rinpoche, who also passed away.
Then to our deceased Former Member of Tibetan Parliament Dakpa Namgyal la. As well as to our Tibetan friends, who are very close to us, Former Defence and Indian Railway Minister George Fernandes and Former US President George W. Bush. Both of them were supporters of the Tibetan Cause and were also fond of His Holiness Dalai Lama. So, these six resolutions are unanimously supported. After that, in Tibet, since China occupied it, Tibetans are suffering a lot still now.
There is a saying "Hell on Earth” they're not getting freedom that they really want, so they are self- immolating. Actually, it is not that they are self-immolating out of happiness but it is out of desperation. Therefore, Tibetans in Tibet are continuously suffering like that, we cannot stay like this and thus we passed an Official Resolution of Solidarity to stand up with suffering of Tibetans inside Tibet. Budget Estimate Resolution was unanimously passed by the house. Only 2 questions was raised during the question hour and a lot of other topics related to estimate budget were discussed.
Q3) Are there important topics discussed which not the resolutions by the Parliament members are?
A3) The topics which are not in the resolutions are Kashag's (Cabinet) clarifications. Tibetan President Dr. Lobsang Sangay provided clarification on the topic and followed by questions and suggestions by the MP's. We came to a resolution after Kashag has responded and explained. Others are public accounts committee. This Committee's annaul report was presented and discussed with relation to that report. After public accounts committee's report is done, there are other discussions regarding it.
After the discussion, we came to a conclusion and then we passed the resolution. Other than that, in the Parliamentary session, Honorable President nominated Kalon (Minister - Topgyal Tsering Zongkha) candidate and was selected as a Kalon by 50% Vote of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile. However, Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission said that it is not a definite 50% Vote. Just like I explained in the ending of the Parliament session, we have our Charter.
In that Charter, half of 100 are 50, also on Google, for e.g., if there is 43 people, what is their 50% it will come to 21.5 and in our Charter, it is mentioned that we can ignore the decimal, so we did like that but as Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission calculated in a different way. From our Parliament, we elected him after elections; we are not the one who takes oath of the Kalon. Tibetan Supreme Justice Commissioner gives oath to the Kalon. So, it is up to them to make the final decision.
Q4) How about the overall Parliament meeting?
A4) Overall Parliament session went well as said by the people and some others who contacted me. We will know it through other people if it went well or not, I won't know it myself. So when people said it went well, so I figured it went well.
Q5) Can you brief us a few bills which are unanimously passed in the house that you prefer very important to the Tibetan freedom movements?
A5)Yes, Yes, Solidarity Resolution which is on Tibetan freedom Movement and what Tibetans did for Tibet cause, we have and should expressed our gratitude to them as well as to other countries who have supported us, we should thank them. So, these are the things (resolutions) which we can do for them.
Q6) Finally what the important topics which particularly focuses on the current situation inside Tibet and the Sino - Tibetan Dialogue?
A6) The Situation inside Tibet which is the topic of discussion in Solidarity resolution. Tibetans inside Tibet don't have freedom of religion and language. Religious freedom is not on paper or by saying, it won't help, it needs to be in real life or practice. In reality, there's no freedom. So, when there's no freedom in Tibet, Tibetans want to come to India to get education but China stopped them.
Therefore, China aims to eradicate culture from inside and outside of Tibet, by using bad policies. China is hindering Tibetans to preserve their own culture and Tibetan language, which is our "Root of Life”. When a Tibetan man comes forward for preserving Tibetan language, he is labeled as a separatist and thrown into prison. Therefore, current Chinese Communist Government doesn’t have any affection to Tibetans. If China and Tibet want to live together, then China should think what is Tibetan’s wish and aspiration.
How to let Tibetans to preserve their culture, religion, language and custom. If they do help with sincerity and pure intention then, Tibetan situation won't be like the way it is right now. China is saying that Tibetans are separatists. But, in reality, China is the real separatist. So, we had a detailed discussion regarding this, Sino-Tibetan dialogue from our side, it is a beneficial policy for both the parties (China and Tibet), through The Middle Way Approach. His Holiness Dalai Lama came up with The Middle Way Approach and besides that, The Middle Way Approach got majority support from Tibetans.
So, we have made The Middle Way Approach as our best policy. When we talk about the majority, it is not only Tibetans outside of Tibet but also Tibetans inside Tibet from three provinces of Tibet. There are officers, traders, ordinary men and educated people. Like them, based on many other people's opinion, this approach seems very sensible and thus we had set up The Middle Way Approach Policy. Therefore, it is set by both Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet.
So, it is a policy which got majority support from thoughtful people. We have put forward the Chinese government the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for Tibetan people in 2008, giving clear explanation about the Middle Way Approach and then in 2010, Notes on the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for Tibetan people was presented to clear the doubts and objections raised by Chinese Government. So, it is up to China to reply or not. How and will China respond is totally up to them