Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday criticized the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC), accusing it of being unwilling to get in touch with Tibetan exiles and the Tibetan government-in-exile or show concern for Tibetans’ struggle for freedom.
The Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee yesterday reviewed next year’s budget for the Mongolian and Tibetan Foundation, an organization resorting under the commission. As the foundation has asked for funding mostly to enhance ties with Mongolian and Tibetan regions under Chinese administration, DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said it was overlooking the relationship between Taiwan and the exiled Tibetan government.
“Are you in touch with the Tibetan government-in-exile?” Chen asked MTAC chief secretary Chen Hui-ying (陳會英) during the meeting’s question-and-answer session.
“We have contacted some exiled Tibetans,” Chen Hui-ying said, but was interrupted by Chen Ming-wen, who insisted that Chen Hui-ying answer whether the MTAC or the foundation had been in touch with the exiled government. Chen Hui-ying did not answer directly.
“Okay, since you are the government agency in charge of Mongolian and Tibetan affairs, let me ask you this,” Chen Ming-wen said. “A new head of the exiled government has just recently been sworn in. His name is Lobsang Sangay. Do you know how old he is and which school he graduated from?”
Chen Hui-ying pondered the questions and finally answered that Lobsang Sangay was 43 years old and graduated from Harvard University, after an aide reminded her.
“You’re in charge of Tibetan affairs and you don’t know the answers? That shows you don’t care about exiled Tibetans,” Chen Ming-wen said.
He then asked: “Now, please tell me, what is the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile called?”
Chen Hui-ying answered: “Lobsang Sangay,” but when Chen Ming-wen said he was asking for his title, Chen Hui-ying uttered, after a hint from her aide: “Kalon… first Kalon?”
“No, it’s called Kalon Tripa. How can you not know this and serve as the chief secretary of MTAC?” Chen Ming-wen said.
“You are unable to answer any of my questions about the background of the new leader [of the exiled government], this shows that you have not been willing to get in touch with them at all,” he said.
He went on and asked for her comment on Lobsang Sangay’s remarks that China’s occupation of Tibet was an act of colonialism.
Chen Hui-ying said the MTAC “respects his personal comments,” leading Chen Ming-wen to slam the MTAC of surrendering to the “one China” policy.
Chen Hui-ying disagreed and said the government has always followed the “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” principle, without elaborating how the principle was different from the “one China” policy.
DPP Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財), on the other hand, slammed the MTAC for not showing any concern for the 10 Tibetans who protested Chinese rule of Tibet through self-immolation while many governments around the world had done so.
Commenting on what happened at the legislature yesterday, Taiwan Friends of Tibet president Chow Mei-li (周美里) said she was shocked by the MTAC’s ignorance of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and its reluctance to learn about the background of its new leader.
On the other hand, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Taiwan president Tenzin Chompel said he was not surprised that the MTAC knows nothing about exiled Tibetans.
“Actually, since the MTAC considers Tibet to be part of the People’s Republic of China, we don’t want to have anything to do with them anyway,” he said.
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