His Holiness the Dalai Lama during opening prayers at the Tsug-la Khang at the start of the first day of his four day teaching given at the request of a group from India in Dharamshala, India on June 1, 2013. (Photo/Abhishek Madhukar)
DHARAMSHALA, June 5: Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has no immediate plans of visiting Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region under the People’s Republic of China, according to a senior official at his Private Office.
Quelling recent speculations
sparked by a report on the South China Morning Post, Ngapa Tsegyam, Secretary at the Dalai Lama’s Private Office told a Tibetan radio service that His Holiness has no scheduled plans of visiting Hong Kong in the near future.
The Post, on June 3, carried a report on a pending invitation to the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Hong Kong this September sent by Philip Li Koi-hop, chairman of the Hong Kong Tibetan and Han-Chinese Friendship Association.
“Yes, it is true that the Private Office received the letter and our concerned staff had immediately replied saying that His Holiness’ visit would not be possible for the time being,” Tsegyam told the Oslo based Voice of Tibet.
“There is a lengthy process involved in organising His Holiness’ visit and it requires detailed planning.”
He noted that the 78-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader follows a pre-planned schedule and will be visiting Europe this September.
Tsegyam added that the Dalai Lama meets with many devotees from mainland China and Hong Kong and many disciples from Hong Kong have extended invitations.
“When invited to visit Hong Kong, His Holiness has repeatedly said that if the Chinese government allows, he is most willing to visit,” the senior official said.
The Dalai Lama maintains a busy traveling schedule, trying to accommodate as many requests as possible for his participation in events throughout the world.
According to the website of the Private Office, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama made his first foreign visit outside Tibet in 1954 when he spent almost a year in China meeting with its leaders and touring various places. In 1956, His Holiness made his second visit abroad to India at the invitation of the Mahabodhi Society of India to attend the 2500th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Lord Buddha.”
After coming into exile in 1959, the Dalai Lama made his first visits abroad in 1967, visiting Japan and Thailand. In 1973, His Holiness made his first visit to the West, visiting 12 European countries. The Dalai Lama’s first visit to the Americas was to the United States and Canada in 1979.