Sat, Dec 06, 2008 - Page 3 News List

DPP chair pans Ma over remarks on Dalai Lama

YOU'RE NOT WELCOME When President Ma met a delegation from Italy, they lauded Taiwan’s freedom of religion while mentioning the controversial refusal

By Mo Yan-chih and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen attends a meeting at party headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told a press conference yesterday that as Taiwan and Tibet faced similar situations in the international community, the government should sympathize with Tibet.

“I always found it hard to understand why countries would join China in oppressing Taiwan, but now Taiwan is cooperating with China to oppress Tibet,” she said. “A president should represent the values of his people.”

Her comments came after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said on Wednesday that the Dalai Lama was not welcome to visit Taiwan.

Ma’s comments, which contradicted remarks made in March that he would welcome the Tibetan spiritual leader, attracted strong criticism from pan-green and pan-blue politicians, who urged him to reconsider.

Meanwhile, DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said the DPP would work with religious groups to invite the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan.

Cheng said Ma spoke up for Tibet and supported the Dalai Lama during his presidential campaign, but reversed his position after being elected.

He added that Ma had yielded to Beijing, and the “people Beijing does not welcome, Ma Ying-jeou also does not welcome.”

At a separate setting, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-Ling (管碧玲) said the DPP caucus would launch a “one person, one letter” campaign, urging every Taiwanese to send a letter to the Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in Taiwan inviting the Dalai Lama to visit.

Also yesterday, Ma repeated his rejection of the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit, but added that he would welcome a visit “when the time is right.”

“Taiwan has been very friendly to the Dalai Lama, and he has visited Taiwan twice before. But now is not the best time for him to visit,” Ma said when meeting a delegation from the Italian parliament at the Presidential Office.

Ma made the remarks when his guests, led by Italian Senator Salvo Fleres, mentioned the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit while lauding the freedom of religion in Taiwan.

Ma said that although Taiwan welcomed religious people from all over the world, now was not the right time for the spiritual leader to visit.

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