The daughter of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) apologized yesterday for accusing former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of lying about his health during last year’s presidential campaign.
Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), whose letter to the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) was published on yesterday’s opinion page, apologized for causing a disturbance in a letter that appeared in the Liberty Times last Wednesday saying Hsieh had covered up a minor stroke that had forced him to suspend all activities for several days during the campaign.
In her first letter, Chen Hsing-yu said Hsieh had called her father to say he had had a minor stroke. Hsieh did not visit a doctor out of concern it might affect the campaign, she wrote, adding that he canceled all public appearances for a while and claimed he had sprained his ankle.
She accused Hsieh of being “selfish,” saying if it were not for his refusal to let his running mate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) take his place, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would not have suffered such a resounding defeat.
She said Hsieh was lucky in that the stroke only weakened one of his legs, allowing him to cover it up, but his bad health prevented him from engaging in arduous campaign activities.
Chen Shui-bian also mentioned Hsieh’s health in his new book, titled The Cross of Taiwan, which hit bookstores last Monday. In the chapter titled “Striving upstream,” he said Hsieh’s health had been a problem and contributed to the DPP’s election loss.
Chen Hsing-yu said in her first letter that her father had asked her to stay silent about Hsieh’s health, but that she had defied his wishes since he “could not die in peace” because of the legal charges he faces.
Hsieh has dismissed the stroke allegation as a “groundless rumor.”
In the letter published yesterday, Chen Hsing-yu wrote that she “might have misunderstood the facts, which were likely to be different from what I was told.”
“I do not mean to harm [Hsieh],” she said. “After thinking about it for a few days, I feel it was deeply inappropriate to make such a remark. I would like to offer my sincere apologies.”
Hsieh’s office issued a statement in response, saying that Hsieh was “gratified” by the apology.
Hsieh also said that he felt sorry for Chen Hsing-yu because she must be under tremendous pressure.
“I hope the public will refrain from pressuring her any more,” Hsieh’s statement said. “I pray for her courageous endurance of difficulties.”