A couple of years back we wrote a post questioning if the exiled Tibetan Administration was funding trips of overseas Parliamentarians to its Dharamsala base in India. In particular we highlighted the case of English MP Mr Norman Baker, around whom at that time there was some controversy regarding expenses. He had visited India in October 2007 and September 2008, on trips reportedly sponsored by the Tibetan Administration (and the Tibet Society of UK, of which he was then President). The Parliamentarian found himself in hot water for alleged breaches of Parliamentary protocols that govern expenses and overseas trips. According to the British Parliamentary rules, any MP who undertakes an overseas trip, sponsored by a foreign government (Editor’s Note does this mean that this Parliament considers the exiled Tibetan Government as a legitimate and operating political administration?) is required to register it within four weeks. In addition they must declare a financial interest if it “might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question”.
It would appear he weathered that particular storm, so much so that over the past few days Mr Baker has again been in Dharamsala, acting we understand in the capacity of observer overseeing voting for the head of the Tibetan Administration.
It’s not clear if he funded his trip or if his expenses were covered by the Tibetan Administration, International Network of Parliamentarians, or the International Campaign For Tibet. Our previous post on this issue raised concerns at the idea of the Administration bankrolling politicians trips to India. Not only would that be a profligate use of funds, with a questionable return in terms of political advancement for the Tibetan cause, but an extravagance subsidized directly or indirectly by Tibetans. Who face all manner of economic and social deficiencies.
There were many troubling questions. How many politicians have had their flights and accommodation subsidized? What amounts of money has been spent on such trips? Were details placed before the exiled Tibetan Assembly? Tibetans scratching a precarious living across India have every right to know if their exiled Administration is wasting precious resources on funding affluent Parliamentarians. When there is so much need within the exiled Tibetan community. Others may well be wondering if foreign politicians, who express support for Tibet, have not reached into their own cash-lined pockets to fund trips to Dharamsala?