Assembly Secretariat turns Bangkok trip ‘official’

From CK Nayak

 NEW DELHI: Meghalaya Assembly Secretariat has gone on an overdrive, after The Shillong Times expose about the controversial foreign tour of 15 MLAs and four officials including a typist headed by the Speaker himself.

On the day the news was published the Assembly Secretariat dashed off a letter to the Centre to treat the most controversial part of the visit to Bangkok as “official”. Earlier, by its own letter the Secretariat requested for political clearance to the same country as “post-conference tour” which is normally all pleasure no business. While the first letter was sent on December 15, the second letter asking that visit of the delegation to Bangkok “be treated as official” was dated December 28, 2011, the day this newspaper splashed the news.

“Kindly treat the visit of the delegation to Bangkok as official,” the letter of the Assembly Secretariat to the Ministry said.

The State Assembly Secretariat has tried to justify the proposed three-nation tour of the State legislators saying that 15 MLAs are going to Manila, Hanoi and Bangkok at the invitation from the Philippines Legislators Committee on Social Affairs, Vietnam Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs and Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development in Thailand respectively.

Records available with The Shillong Times show that “purpose” of the visit is to attend official engagements in Philippines and Vietnam. The records had no mention of any official engagement in Bangkok, rather the records showed that it was “post conference” tour by the MLAs as mentioned.

The Assembly Secretariat had in a press note, after publication of the report, said that during their stay in Bangkok, the delegation would be having a meeting with the Forum on the issue of HIV/AIDS. It will also have a meeting with the Thailand Parliamentary Association which has been intimated to the Centre on the same day only.

The large team of 15 legislators of Meghalaya and four officials including a typist headed by Mr Charles Pyngrope himself was to leave for Manila (Philippines), Hanoi (Vietnam) and Bangkok (Thailand) for a 10 day long tour- all at the expenses of the State Assembly. The delegation includes Mr A L Hek, Minister for General Administration, two Parliamentary Secretaries- Mr L Rymbui, Dr Advisor Parong, the embattled Government Chief Whip Ronnie V Lyngdoh, amongst others.

The request for “political clearance” for the Minister and Parliamentary Secretaries from the Ministry of External Affairs which is mandatory has come from the Assembly Secretariat instead of the State Government which is the practice. The Assembly Secretariat has not given any clarification on this point.

The Ministry of External Affairs is supposed to give political clearance for the visit and the Ministries of Home, Finance and the Lok Sabha are required to give the go ahead.

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