Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself with a towel at a prison hospital in Greater Taichung on Sunday night, but was stopped by a caretaker, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said that Chen, who is serving a 20-year jail sentence for corruption, was distraught that public funds could now be spent legally in hostess bars, while the courts had found his use of them for diplomatic projects to have been a criminal offense.
Chen Shui-bian was apparently referring to former independent legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for the misuse of public funds in hostess bars during his term as Taichung County Council speaker, but who may be released from jail once an amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法) is promulgated.
The deputy minister said that at 9pm on Sunday, Chen Shui-bian tied a towel to a 90cm high shower fitting in his bathroom and attempted to hang himself.
A caretaker stopped him and medical staff then checked his blood pressure, heartbeat and other vital signs.
Chen Ming-tang said that Chen Shui-bian’s condition was stable.
The deputy minister added that Chen Shui-bian’s medical team asked him why he had tried to commit suicide.
According to Chen Ming-tang, Chen Shui-bian said he was upset that his bid to rejoin the Democratic Progressive Party had not gone well, and also because the involvement of elected officials and professors in irregularities related to the use of public funds could be decriminalized following the passage of the public funds amendment, while his use of public funds on diplomatic projects would not be decriminalized.
The deputy minister added that the prison hospital sent a psychiatrist from Taichung Veterans General Hospital to visit Chen Shui-bian.
The ministry on April 19 transferred Chen Shui-bian from Taipei Veterans General Hospital to Taichung Prison’s Pei Teh Hospital, where a special medical zone was set up for him.
The former president has been diagnosed with severe depression, sleep apnea, non-typical Parkinson’s disease, a speech disorder and mild cerebral atrophy.
His office confirmed his suicide attempt in a press release yesterday afternoon.
Citing a prison staffer’s conversation with Chen Shui-bian, the office confirmed that the former president had tried to kill himself because of his anger over the decriminalization of hundreds of university professors’ and local councilors’ irregular use of public funds.
Chen Shui-bian’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), wrote on his Facebook page that his father was calling for “a uniform standard” to be set for all legal proceedings, rather than different standards for specific individuals.
“I cannot accept [the double standard], nor could anyone; let alone someone with serious illnesses,” Chen Chih-chung wrote.
“Chen Shui-bian’s health suffers a blow every time he sees that someone else has received preferential treatment,” said Janice Chen (陳昭姿), spokesperson for Chen Shui-bian’s private medical team.
In response, Chen Ming-tang said that Yen would be released from jail once the amendment to the Accounting Act is promulgated.
He said the ministry looked into Yen’s case yesterday and decided that Yen’s case would be applicable under the new law.
Additional reporting by Jake Chung and CNA
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut