President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday reiterated that the question of whether former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should be released on medical parole is not a political issue, but a legal and medical one.
Granting Chen medical parole is not a political decision, but a special pardon is, he said, adding that anyone released on medical parole is actually free and can stay in a hospital or at home.
“It actually means being released from prison,” he said in an exclusive interview with CNA.
He said that medical parole is only granted on medical grounds. Only those who cannot receive appropriate treatment in prison can be released on bail for medical treatment, he said.
“There must be a doctor’s -diagnosis that a patient cannot be treated properly in prison,” Ma said.
The issue has been in the public eye for several days, with diehard supporters of Chen — who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year jail sentence for corruption — calling for a special pardon for the former president, who led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in defeating the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the 2000 presidential election to end more than 50 years of KMT rule in Taiwan.
Recently, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), a KMT member, called on authorities to consider Chen’s medical parole case from a more lenient point of view.
He expressed hope that granting Chen medical parole would mend cracks in society caused by inter-party conflicts.
Hau said yesterday he respected Ma’s explanation of what medical parole means, but added that the Ministry of Justice should organize a medical group and commission to evaluate Chen’s health.
This, he said, is the only way to win public trust.
Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) yesterday described Hau’s public endorsement of the pan-green proposal as “jumping into a fire pit, while getting burned in the process.”
“To me, the move was a make-or-break situation for Hau, who thought he could bring reconciliation between the two camps simply by jumping into the fire pit and shouting a few words. In the end, he got himself burned,” Hu said.
Dismissing Hu’s remarks, Hau said he was not of the opinion that seeking political rapprochement was a fire pit, but added that he was willing to accept any consequences if it turned out to be one.
The DPP yesterday urged Ma to deliberate on the issue of Chen’s medical parole “from a broader and a higher perspective.”
“Medical parole is not only an issue of medical care and law, but also a political and social issue,” DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.
Public opinion polls showed that more than half of Taiwanese agree that the government should carefully handle the case of Chen’s release for medical treatment, Lin said.
“We urge Ma to approach the issue from a broader and a higher perspective,” he said.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang and Stacy Su