US Representative Steven Chabot, the chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, on Tuesday told a Taiwanese delegation in Washington that he felt that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should be granted medical parole.
Chabot, a long-time Taiwan supporter, made the comments when the delegation, led by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), visited him and Representative Grace Meng (孟昭文) on Capitol Hill a day after US President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
Accompanying Wang was Taiwan’s Representative to the US King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) and KMT legislators Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) and Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆). Former Presidential Office secretary-general Mark Chen (陳唐山) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) represented the DPP in the group.
Wang said he relayed Chabot’s comments to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in a meeting after returning to Taiwan, adding that he also told Ma about former vice president Annette Lu’s (呂秀蓮) concerns following her visit to see Chen Shui-bian on Monday.
Ma would make an appropriate and humane decision on the matter within the bounds of the law, Wang said, stressing that Taiwan is governed by the rule of law.
Chiang said that the president would make sure to observe all relevant legal procedures when addressing the issue.
Chabot was told that despite not having been paroled, Chen Shui-bian is receiving medical attention and Ma shared others’ concerns about the jailed president’s deteriorating health.
Lee said that Chabot held Chen Shui-bian in high regard, citing as evidence a photo of Chabot and the former president shaking hands that sits beside the door of Chabot’s office. The representative believes that Chen Shui-bian had suffered enough, Lee added.
Lee said that he during a visit last week, he had seen Chen Shui-bian’s hands shaking with palsy and signs of muscular dystrophy in his right leg.
Mark Chen also said that Chen Shui-bian was exhibiting signs of Parkinson’s disease, adding that it would be damaging for Taiwan if one of its democratically elected presidents were to die in jail.
“We hope the Ma administration will follow the people’s wishes and release Chen Shui-bian immediately,” he added. “Enough is enough.”
The Ministry of Justice says that Chen Shui-bian is receiving adequate care, adding that he is not exhibiting symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Meanwhile, Mark Chen said Taiwan could learn from the attendance of former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton at Obama’s inauguaration.
Three Taiwanese presidents, including Ma, are still alive, and he could learn a lot about how to resolve the challenges facing him and even help ameliorate bipartisan divisions if he talked with former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian, Mark Chen said.
However, Mark Chen added that this opportunity could not be taken because Lee Teng-hui has been indicted by the Ma administration on corruption charges and Chen Shui-bian is serving an 18-and-a-half-year sentence on similar charges.