The Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the de facto representative office of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Taiwan, yesterday welcomed a Taipei District Court verdict that the True Enlightenment Foundation and its founder, Hsiao Chieh-jen (蕭絜仁) had slandered the Dalai Lama.
“We are certainly happy about the verdict,” Tibet Religious Foundation chairman Dawa Tsering said. “We are happy that the judiciary in Taiwan could help prove that some defamatory statements made by the True Enlightenment Foundation against His Holiness are false, we are grateful.”
“However, it’s regrettable that the judiciary was unable to make a ruling on the True Enlightenment Foundation’s malicious attacks on Tibetan Buddhism,” he added.
Founded by Hsiao, the foundation has actively attacked Tibetan Buddhism as “fake” and “malicious,” claiming that followers of Tibetan Buddhism have twisted the teachings of the Buddha.
The foundation spreads such information by handing out flyers and booklets at public places across the country, as well as in newspaper ads.
The group also alleges that the Dalai Lama came to Taiwan in September 2009, after the country had been seriously hit by Typhoon Morakot, in order to collect donations while pretending to be praying for the well-being of the victims and implied that Dawa had collaborated in this act of fraud.
“Such accusations are totally false,” Dawa said. “Everyone knows that His Holiness came to Taiwan on an invitation jointly issued by the heads of seven cities and counties in Taiwan, and it was the Tibet Religious Foundation that helped to cover the costs.”
Hoping that religion could help calm the minds of typhoon victims and their families, the heads of then-Kaohsiung city and county, then-Tainan cty and county, Pingtung County, Chiayi City and Yunlin County jointly invited the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit areas in the country which had seen major typhoon damage while also holding two prayer assemblies with free admission.
The court rebutted Hsiao’s argument that he did not know about the details of the Dalai Lama’s visit, as major media outlets had reported on it at the time.
Convinced that Hsiao had maliciously spread false information about the Dalai Lama’s visit, the court sentenced him to 55 days in prison. As of press time, neither Hsiao nor the foundation was available for comment.