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Visit by the Dalai Lama a test of democracy

September 13, 2009

By Lu I-ming

Taipei Times - Sep 13, 2009

The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama recently visited Taiwan to pray
for the victims of Typhoon Morakot. In the face of constant pressure from
Beijing and international media coverage of the visit, the Dalai Lama, in
his profound wisdom and benevolence, turned the visit into a display of
passive resistance and peace in the spirit of Indian independence leader
Mohandas Gandhi.

The Buddhist leader's visit to Taiwan was not a big matter. As a US
Department of State official said, Washington did not believe it would
"result in increased tension in the region." But Beijing did all it could to
add fuel to the flames and even enlisted the help of Taiwanese gangsters in
China to organize protests against the spiritual leader in Taiwan, while
Taiwan's pro-China media outlets became mouthpieces of the Chinese
government. In doing so, they sacrificed their credibility and lost more
than they gained.

During his visit, the Dalai Lama remained composed while being interviewed
by media outlets and said he was not disappointed about not meeting
President Ma Ying-jeou.

In response to speculation that the spiritual leader's visit would have an
adverse impact on cross-strait relations, Ma said it was premature to jump
to that conclusion.

Some critics said the visit was a result of political scheming, but the
Dalai Lama said he was here purely on a religious mission, although some
"specialists" in Taiwan tried to second-guess his motives. He also suggested
that the protesters could visit China to promote democracy. There is no
doubt that all these were directed at Ma and his Chinese counterpart, Hu

Every place the Dalai Lama visited, people could feel the warmth he brought.
When typhoon survivors from Siaolin Village (??) in Kaohsiung County, which
was washed away by floods, told him their family members were buried under
mud and rubble, he immediately spread a waterproof mat on the ground and
began a ritual of blessing. Such behavior moved the hearts of numerous
disaster victims.

When he heard someone crying out loud: "Someone has cancer. She needs your
help" as he walked out of the venue for a ritual, he performed a
forehead-to-forehead blessing service and gave the patient medication. This
scene is in stark contrast to the hypocrisy of politicians and their empty

In 1959, dictator Chiang Kai-shek recognized the temporary government of the
Dalai Lama as the legitimate Tibetan government in accordance with Article
120 of the Constitution and said the Republic of China would continue to
work to achieve the goal of self-determination together with the Tibetan

Whether Tibet should be separated from China is mentioned in both Taiwan's
and China's constitutions. As such, if Taiwan were to cooperate with Beijing
and take a harsher approach toward the matter, it would not reflect well on

The Dalai Lama's nephew, Khedroob Thondup, once said: "This is not communist
Taiwan; it's democratic Taiwan." The question is, can Taiwan hold up to its
democratic ideals.

Lu I-ming is the former publisher and president of Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily

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