Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) says in his new book, which hit the shelves yesterday, that he regrets helping Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) advance her political career to eventually become chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The 335-page Voices that Can’t Be Locked Up, Chen’s second book penned while in jail on graft charges, is a collection of 50 letters by Chen to himself, his family and other politicians, including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Chen writes that if he had not nominated Tsai as a legislator-at-large in 2004, Tsai would not be the DPP chairperson today and newspapers would not be attacking the party as lacking strong leadership.
“I understand that the chairperson has always wanted to sever relations with me ... But the cases involving me — whether the state affairs fund or the campaign fund — were the products of history,” he writes in a letter to Tsai. “Why are you so lacking in self-confidence? Why are you letting people create divisions so easily?”
DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said Tsai was puzzled by Chen’s criticism and “could not accept” it.
Her participation in the 2004 legislative election “boosted the party’s morale,” Cheng said. “What we need right now is party unity, not infighting.”
Secretary of Chen’s office Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) yesterday said it was understandable that Chen felt this way because he had repeatedly told aides that Tsai had not visited him at the Taipei Detention Center, where he has been held since December.
In another letter, addressed to himself, Chen berates himself for not achieving independence.
“You didn’t declare Taiwan independent and hold a referendum on independence. You could have done it, but you didn’t and you let the Taiwanese people down,” he writes.
Chen blames himself for not doing enough to achieve transitional justice and retrieve the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) stolen assets.
In a letter to Hu, Chen says Beijing shunned his government because he stood by Taiwan’s sovereignty and accuses his successor, Ma, of going soft on China.
Chen’s other recent book, a prison diary titled Taiwan’s Cross, was published on Jan. 19 and has sold 39,000 copies, his office said.
The former president is set to appear in court again today in his trial on embezzlement and money-laundering charges — the first of several cases implicating the former first family.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU