The Presidential Office yesterday said it would consult with the Ministry of Justice on whether former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should be stripped of the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon he had conferred on himself in office.
Under the Medals Act (勳章條例), the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon, the nation’s highest decoration for heads of state, is exclusively presented to incumbent presidents, but can also be bestowed upon heads of diplomatic allies on special occasions.
The Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday reported that the office was considering stripping the honor from Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year jail term for corruption.
The Presidential Office said yesterday that it had not made a decision and that it would consult with the ministry.
The Presidential Office said it had received complaints from the public asking it to retrieve the medal because Chen was now imprisoned, so the government should strip the medal from him according to the law.
The Medals Act stipulates that “those deprived of their civil rights due to criminal acts should return the medal of honor and certificate they receive.”
However, the Presidential Office said it was still unclear whether the law applies to the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon and it has asked the ministry to clarify the regulations.
Commenting on the matter, Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘), the secretary of Chen’s Office, accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of trying to divert the public’s attention at a time when President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval ratings are low.
“This only shows that the government is incapable and it would only draw more criticism from the public,” Chiang said.
He said that it was meaningless to retrieve the medal from Chen because his achievements or shortcomings are for history to decide.
Saying the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics had recently cut its forecast for economic growth this year to 1.66 percent, Chiang said the Ma administration should spend its time trying to boost the economy, rather than diverting attention to Chen.