Thu, Sep 03, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Dalai Lama under ‘gag order’ from Taipei

HIGH-SPEED MONK A group of approximately 100 protesters awaited the spiritual leader upon his arrival in Taipei, and one was taken away by police

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AGENCIES

Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, right, and Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi of Taiwan’s Catholic Church greet each other in Kaohsiung yesterday.

PHOTO: PICHI CHUANG, REUTERS

The Dalai Lama arrived in Taipei yesterday as his nephew said the government had put a “gag order” on the exiled religious leader out of fears of Beijing’s reaction.

The Dalai Lama traveled on a high-speed train from Kaohsiung after two days focused on the plight of communities devastated by Typhoon Morakot last month.

The Dalai Lama’s nephew, Khedroob Thondup, told Agence France-Presse that Taiwan had directly requested the tour be kept low-profile.

“They put a gag order on him. Before he left India he was told not to say anything political and to curtail his activities,” said Thondup, also a member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile in India.

“This was conveyed to our office in New Delhi. He was told to cut down even religious activities. This is all because of pressure from Beijing,” he said by telephone from India.

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan has triggered reactions from Beijing, which vilifies him as a “splittist” bent on Tibet independence, in turn causing pan-blue politicians to worry publicly about the impact on China ties.

“The coming few days will be extremely crucial,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said.

“We have a typhoon blowing from Beijing,” an unnamed KMT official was quoted as saying by local media.

As the Dalai Lama arrived at the Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei, about 100 supporters of Taiwan’s unification with China waved posters saying: “Taiwan, Tibet are both part of China.”

At least one demonstrator was carried away by police after a scuffle with officers before the Dalai Lama’s arrival.

Organizers said that the Dalai Lama would spent most of today at his hotel meeting Tibetan and Buddhist groups. The Dalai Lama has no scheduled public appearance today and is expected to return to India tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, the Dalai Lama held a dialogue in Kaohsiung with Cardinal Paul Shan (單國璽) on a broad range of topics including heaven, nature, humanity and deteriorating ethics and morality in society.

The event attracted an audience of more than 1,000 people, including Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp chairwoman Nita Ing (殷琪).

In the two-and-a-half-hour public conversation, the two religious leaders also elaborated on the differences between Buddhism and Christianity.

Meanwhile, the Kaohsiung City Government said the Dalai Lama donated US$50,000 to victims of Morakot yesterday through the office of Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu.

The Tibetan spiritual leader made the donation during a lunch gathering with the mayor and county commissioners of five local governments in southern Taiwan and asked that the money be put into the bank account of the nonprofit charity, United Way of Taiwan, the city government said in a press release.

The Dalai Lama also attached a brief letter to the monetary contribution, stressing that he is visiting Taiwan out of “humanitarian concern” and to give a helping hand to Morakot victims.

Chen, who was present at the gathering, gave a pair of bobble head dolls and bags of pineapple cakes to the Dalai Lama in appreciation for his love and care on behalf of Kaohsiung residents.

The Dalai Lama in return gave her a small golden Buddha.

At a separate setting yesterday, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it would be “rude” and “impolite” of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) if he continued to refuse to meet the Dalai Lama, calling Ma an “inconsiderate host.”

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