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Singapore Promotes Chinese Nominee as Panchen Lama

September 16, 2010

By B Raman
Sri Lanka Guardian
September 16, 2010

Mr.George Yeo, Singapore's Foreign Minister, has
hurt the feelings of large sections of the
Tibetal Buddhists in China and abroad, including
India, by providing legitimacy to the action of
the Chinese Communist Party in arresting in 1995
His Holiness the Panchen Lama chosen by the
Tibetans in accordance with their tradition and
imposing on them an individual chosen by the
Chinese Communist Party as the 11th Panchen Lama.

The nominee of the Chinese Communist Party has
not been accepted by the Tibetan people and His
Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Chinese have till
now refused to release the Panchen Lama chosen by
the Tibetans and allow him to perform his
functions as a religious leader. Confronted with
a situation where the Tibetans and other
Buddhists of the world are not prepared to
recognise the legitimacy of the Panchen Lama
imposed on the Tibetan people by the Chinese
Communist Party,the Chinese Government has
mounted an exercise since the beginning of this
year to build up the image of their nominee in
the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. In this
connection reference is invited to my article of
June 17,2010, titled "Bringing up their Panchen Lama".

The Chinese have further extended this exercise
now in order to build up his image abroad. As
part of this exercise, the Chinese authorities
arranged a meeting between their nominee and
Mr.George Yeo at Beijing on September 14, 2010,
during a visit by the Singapore Foreign Minister
to China. It has been reported that the Chinese
Party-nominated Panchen Lama accepted an
invitation extended by Mr.George Yeo to visit
Singapore. Even though this has been projected as
part of an exercise to promote contacts between
Buddhists in the two countries, its political
significance in providing legitimacy to the
actions of the Chinese Communist Party in
interfering in the religious affairs of the
Tibetan Buddhists and tampering with their traditions cannot be missed.

The Chinese have made it clear on many occasions
that when His Holiness the Dalai Lama dies, his
successor will be chosen by the Communist Party
and Government as they did in the case of their
nominee as the Panchen Lama. The action of the
Singapore Foreign Minister in providing
legitimacy to Chinese actions in denying freedom
of religion to the Tibetan people could be a
prelude to his providing legitimacy to the
Chinese Party imposing on the Tibetans a Dalai
Lama in Chinese Communist Party colours.

It is understood that Mr.George Yeo, who paid a
controversial visit to Tibet in August last year,
has been taking close interest in the project of
the Government of India for the revival of the
Nalanda University. His action in providing
legitimacy to actions of the Chinese Party, which
were an affront to the Tibetans and other
Buddhists, has to be strongly deplored. In view
of this, there is a need to re-examine his
continued association with the Nalanda revival project.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd),
Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,
and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical
Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.)
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