From the China Daily online: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-03/28/content_7626532.htm
The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, won applauses and appreciation for his English speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum Saturday in Wuxi City of east China's Jiangsu Province.
"The 11th Panchen Lama's wonderful English speech has joyfully shocked the Buddhist masters and cultural elites present at the forum," said Master Xue Cheng, vice president and secretary general of the Buddhist Association of China (BAC). "He has a good command of the Chinese, English and Tibetan languages."
"His English speech is very commendable," said Professor H. Abeygunawardena, Vice Chancellor of University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. "His learning English embodies China's policy of religious freedom."
You all know of course that this is not the real 11th Panchen Lama. The real one, who was endorsed by the 14th Dalai Lama, was "disappeared" by the Chinese, together with his whole family. This new one was chosen by the Chinese to replace him.
I left this comment on their site, but I don't know if they will publish it:
"So the guy is to be congratulated, or even applauded, for not being a complete moron. He does not have to work at a job all day or take care of a home and children, so learning a foreign language in these conditions is not exactly brain surgery in my opinion. It's a bit like the pope who once a year reads a few phrases in various languages and is hailed as a wonderful multilinguist."
I once read an admiring article about how Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, knows how to pilot a helicopter. I thought then: Big frigging deal! What else can she do all day, after all the shoe shopping, tea drinking and ribbon cutting chores are done, but to be tutored in helicopter piloting by the best trainers the British army can provide free of charge?