The Nov. 15 press release issued by Jack Healey, director of the Human Rights Action Center in Washington, which sponsored a visit by two academics well-versed in human rights and prison standards to investigate Chen’s plight, is even more blunt. It said the lack of access to independent medical care was jeopardizing Chen’s health and some of his conditions could be fatal.
“Chen Shui-bian should not be allowed to be killed in custody due to medical neglect … Mr Chen should be sent home to recover or die in peace,” it said.
Taiwanese-American groups are trying to help Chen. The Formosan Association for Public Affairs has launched a campaign to seek Chen’s medical parole. Inside Taiwan, 16 city and county legislatures have adopted resolutions pleading for Chen’s release. Many other groups have protested against his mistreatment, all to no avail.
Recently the prestigious journal The Economist ridiculed you as “an ineffectual bumbler” for your inept management of Taiwan’s economy. On Nov. 17, you announced your decision to deny medical parole to Chen through a mouthpiece who claimed that international concern about Chen’s health is based on “misunderstanding.” Such mendacity only serves to solidify your reputation as an sinister schemer.
Taiwan’s lower and middle classes are suffering from stagnant wages, high prices and lack of decent jobs. Even Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators have begun to criticize your incompetence. Your approval rating stands at 13 percent. Have you considered the consequences of your persistent pursuit of an ugly death for Chen?
Chen will certainly die in prison unless he is granted medical parole. His death combined with the pent-up resentment over your misrule could trigger massive protests. After the Reverend Martin Luther King was assassinated, there were widespread riots in the US. The beating of a Taiwanese woman by Chinese police in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947, resulted in an island-wide uprising. The necessary conditions for another upheaval are in place. The antagonism between the majority native Taiwanese and the Chinese refugees who came to Taiwan in 1949 and their descendants will be aggravated by your conduct and the social unrest could become unmanageable. After all, the lower and middle ranks of the police and the military are composed mainly of native Taiwanese. By abusing Chen’s human rights, you are symbolically stomping on the dignity of Taiwanese.
China has maintained that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will invade if there is a major social disturbance in Taiwan. Yet the Chinese Communist Party leadership is in transition and it needs time to consolidate its power and to deliberate on China’s future direction. This may not be an opportune time for China to take military action. China may also prefer peaceful annexation of Taiwan. Beijing will lose face, however, if it appears powerless to act when the survival of your administration is threatened.
The US will be unhappy with you because instability within Taiwan and tension across the Taiwan Strait are most unwelcome developments. Despite its “pivot” to Asia policy, the US would be reluctant to test its armed forces against the PLA’s anti-access, area denial capabilities.