Sat, Dec 13, 2008 - Page 3 News List

KMT blocks Dalai Lama motion

HELD UP By referring the DPP's proposal that welcomes a visit by the Dalai Lama to cross-party negotiation, the motion could sit in the legislature for at least a month

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday boycotted a motion proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) welcoming a visit by the Dalai Lama, following President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) recent remarks that a visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader would be inappropriate.

The motion failed to pass yesterday's legislative session after the KMT asked that it be referred to cross-party negotiation, meaning the proposal could be held up for at least one month.

In accordance with legislative proceedings, lawmakers are entitled to refer a bill that they are at odds with in the committee review stage to cross-party negotiations that can last for up to one month before putting it to a vote during the legislative session.

DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) expressed regret over the KMT's opposition to the motion, saying that having the legislature invite the Dalai Lama would have minimized the damage Ma's rejection of the Dalai Lama's proposed visit had caused the country.

Last Wednesday, Ma said “the timing is not appropriate” when asked during a meeting with foreign correspondents how he would respond to the Dalai Lama's wish to visit Taiwan.

The Tibetan spiritual leader on Nov. 28 told Elta TV in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala that he would like to visit Taiwan next year.

“It's hard to believe that a president elected by popular vote in the 21st century has drawn up a blacklist, and it's even harder to believe that Dalai Lama is on such a list,” Lai said.

The DPP attached great significance to the failed motion.

Lai said that if the motion was endorsed by the legislature — the government body that represents public opinion in the country — it would send a message to the world that the Dalai Lama is welcome in Taiwan and what Ma had said was his personal opinion.

“The timing is not a problem. It's nothing but an excuse,” Lai said. “The reason why Ma does not welcome the Dalai Lama is he dares not defy China. It's really a shame.”

“The Dalai Lama has in recent months met US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy ... The timing was never a problem for other world leaders,” Lai said.

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) defended the party's action, saying that referring the motion to cross-party negotiation did not mean the KMT opposed the Dalai Lama's visit.

“We just wanted to have more time for caucus members to deliberate the matter,” Lin said.

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