Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Tibetan affairs head says it’s a bad time for Dalai Lama visit

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission Minister Kao Su-po (高思博) yesterday voiced support for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) stance that Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama should not visit now.

Kao made the remarks when answering questions from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) about the Association of Taiwan Journalists’ invitation to the Dalai Lama and his recent statements that he would like to visit Taiwan again.

“The Dalai Lama’s visit is a highly sensitive issue, and we [the government] think the timing is not appropriate at the moment after our assessments,” Kao said. “We have to consider how other countries would react to [the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan] and make the best judgment for Taiwan’s national interests.”

“As an old friend, I think the Dalai Lama would understand the difficulties we’re facing now,” he said.

Kao added that the Dalai Lama once rejected Taiwan’s invitation to visit in 2002, when the Tibetan government-in-exile was holding talks with Beijing.

Kao’s comments echoed Ma’s words at a press conference in December, despite the fact that earlier last year, Ma said that he would welcome the spiritual leader’s visit following his inauguration in May.

The exiled government’s representative, Dawa Tsering, said that the commission had nothing to do with the Dalai Lama’s visit.

“Whether the Dalai Lama would visit Taiwan has nothing to do with the commission, and the Dalai Lama will not be in touch with them through any means at all,” he told the Taipei Times. “Besides, although the Dalai Lama expressed his wish to visit Taiwan, he has no concrete plan at the moment.”

It’s a policy of the exiled Tibetan government to stay out of contact with the commission as it considers both Tibetans and Mongolians to be part of the Republic of China.

Taiwan Friends of Tibet chairwoman Chow Mei-li (周美里), meanwhile, panned the government for the remark.

“Many individuals and organizations around the country have expressed their wish to invite the Dalai Lama to Taiwan. A democratically elected government should not only listen to what other countries — notably China — have to say about what we do, it should listen to what the majority of its own people have to say,” Chow said.

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