[ LETTERS ]

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 - Page 8

Chen’s suffering unjust

Taiwan is a newly developed country, but former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is currently serving a 30-year sentence on corruption charges.

After examining Chen in May and June last year, I pointed out that he was suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but the Ministry of Justice and Executive Yuan denied this in an official statement.

In September last year, through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) at a public hospital, unusual bright spots were found in his subcortical regions. He was transferred to Taipei Veterans General Hospital, where an interview by 10 renowned psychiatrists and the MRI images confirmed that Chen was suffering from MDD.

Chen was found to have typical MDD symptoms such as dysphoric moods, lack of interest in daily activities, feelings of hopelessness, waking early in the morning and even suicidal thoughts.

Delayed treatment might cause his brain functions to deteriorate rapidly.

Many possible factors could have caused his condition, including the complexity of the litigation against him, for example the numerous flip-flops between guilty and innocence verdicts in the Presidential Discretionary Fund case. The reversal of the not guilty verdict in July especially shocked Chen.

Because of the incompleteness of the laws and the randomness of different verdicts by different courts after three years of protesting his innocence, Chen, one of the best attorneys in the country, is at a loss on how to proceed and has had a mental breakdown.

For the last two years, he has been incarcerated in a tiny cell, without a bed, chair or table. He was forced to sit on the floor to write. He was isolated for 23-and-a-half hours a day with a light left on for 24 hours. This is like torture.

At present, he is easily distracted, finding it difficult to think clearly. He is psychomotor retarded, a condition associated with delusions of persecution. He suffers mood swings.

Any rumor of returning to Taipei Prison makes him extremely suspicious, angry and nervous. Chen is no longer capable of pursuing politics, forming a new party, or escaping the country.

He is over 60 years old. He did not commit treason and he is not anti-social. Continuing his incarceration has no significance. He is a former democratically elected president. I strongly suggest releasing him and letting him go home to recover from his illnesses.

Chiao-Chicy Chen, MD, PhD

Taipei

DPP not so progressive

On Sunday, about 150,000 people joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rally to protest the government’s policies on a range of issues.

Out of power in the legislature, the DPP has still been working hard to hold the Ma government to account and scrutinize its performance.

Unlike the claim by some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials, peaceful rallies and protests are part of a healthy functional democracy.

On the other hand, the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) that the government often wields to restrict public protest is a birdcage, put in place by the KMT after the Martial Law era ended to prevent Taiwanese using democracy and determining their sovereignty.

Yet, the DPP, by its own hand, also cages itself –– by letting the KMT frame the terms of debate, while timidly aligning itself with an imagined “centrist” position in the hope that it will lead to electoral success.

Three specific examples come to mind: the death penalty, economic policy and the issue of sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).

In 2006, the DPP instituted a moratorium against the use of the death penalty and now complains when Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) sneeringly ignores the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, it won’t come out and state that abolishing the death penalty is a core policy goal.

The DPP’s own economic policy platform does not differ that much from the KMT’s. It is just a tweaking of cargo cult crony neoliberalism underpinning the chaebol-type policies of the KMT.

The KMT is stuck in an ideological fantasy that imagines that Taiwan is still an “Asian Tiger” economy of the 1970s that will be saved by merging with the People’s Republic of China economically. But the DPP will not directly challenge this. They seek only to modify it.

In terms of the Diaoyutai Islands, the DPP can not bring itself to acknowledge the elephant in the room. It has caged itself out of fear of the media and the fishermen’s associations, and once again only seeks to modify KMT policies.

This plays into the hands of the CCP and KMT as they seek to weaken Taipei-Tokyo and Taipei-Washington ties, facilitating the Chinese strategic policy of raising tensions.

How, then, can the DPP claim these policies are in any way “progressive”?

Ben Goren

Taipei