By Tenzin Monlam
CTA President Dr. Lobsang Sangay with South African MP Narend Singh (left) and MP Sandy Kalyan (right)
DHARAMSHALA, February 12: South African politicians have come forward in protesting China over President (Sikyong) Dr. Lobsang Sangay’s maiden visit to the nation.
After senior parliamentarian Sandy Kalyan condemned such opposition calling on China to stop ‘overstepping’ on South Africa’s sovereign rights, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, founder and president of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) condemned such interference.
IFP Chief Whip in the Parliament and MP Narend Singh said that the action carried out by the South African Chinese Embassy against CTA President’s visit would bring nothing but ‘shame and disgrace’ to China.
Singh in his statement said, “Dr. Sangay is not only an invited guest of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, but also a guest of the people of South Africa. The Chinese Embassy’s actions only serve to reinforce the negative perceptions that people around the world hold as regards China’s oppression of the people of Tibet.”
MP Narend Singh who attended the Five-Fifty Forum: Shaping Tibet’s Political Future held in Dharamshala in October last year said that it is a shame that the South African government continues to ‘kowtow to the Chinese government’ while sacrificing its own constitutional value on the altar of Chinese foreign policy appeasement.
The 63-year-old parliamentarian in his statement also reminded that ‘a democratic and free country’ like South Africa is denying entry to a Nobel peace laureate. Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been denied visa to South Africa on three occasions since 2009.
The Chinese Embassy in Pretoria issued a stern statement stating that President Sangay’s visit undermines the political trust between the nations. It read, “It has sent a wrong political signal to the world community, and has undermined the political mutual trust between China and South Africa. It runs against the common interest of SA-China relations, and will undoubtedly discourage Chinese investors’ confidence in South Africa.”
MP Sandy Kalyan of the Democratic Alliance (DA), country’s largest opposition party, said, “Such veiled threats to the Government of SA cannot be ever entertained. If China wants to go, it should go. The time for non South Africans to hold the South African Government to ransom is long gone.”
She also condemned the Chinese embassy ploy to disrupt the Sikyong’s address at Stellenbosch University on February 8 with a rented crowd of about 30 persons carrying placards.