The office of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said it deplored a decision by the Taipei Prison that allows Chen to pay his respects to his mother-in-law, yet bars him from attending the funeral, saying there was a hidden political agenda and that it went against Taiwanese traditions.
Taipei Prison spokesperson Su Kun-ming (蘇坤銘) said the prison would not allow Chen to pay tribute to Wu Wang Hsia (吳王霞) at her funeral service, but that he could apply to pay his respects for any time before the funeral.
Wu Wang was the mother of the former president’s wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍).
Su said the decision was made based on security concerns and the expected large crowd attending the ceremony.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) said at a separate setting that according to regulations, visits by detainees to pay their last respects to their immediate family should be done discretely, which meant the ministry or the prison would not announce when the former president would do so.
He added that the prison would also ask Chen Shui-bian not to discuss politics with the media during his visit.
The former president’s office said that according to traditional Taiwanese customs, he should be allowed to attend the family ceremony as Wu Wang’s son-in-law on Tuesday, adding that the Taipei Prison’s decision was “inhumane” and deprived the former president of his judicial human rights.
As a former president, Chen Shui-bian should not be humiliated by being forced to wear handcuffs and leg shackles when he pays his final respects to Wu Wang, the office said, adding that the decision was “an obvious political decision” that could outrage Taiwanese and harm Taiwan’s international image.
The office urged the Taipei Prison to reconsider its decision.
The former president’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), said yesterday he would try his best to make sure his father could be present at Wu Wang’s funeral.
Separately, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), the running mate of DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), paid tribute to the Wu family in Sinying District (新營), Greater Tainan, on behalf of Tsai.
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) urged the Ministry of Justice to handle Chen Shui-bian’s release appropriately and with humanity.
Additional reporting by staff writer