Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said he has no plans to visit former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in prison, amid calls from the pan-green camp urging him to meet with Chen after he suggested that the government grant Chen medical parole.
Hau, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), also dismissed calls for him to sign a petition launched by the opposition camp to support medical parole, while reiterating that his public endorsement of the idea was aimed at bridging the social divide, and eliminating political confrontation between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.
“We should take actions to heal the wounds caused by social and political division, and I think the government should not ignore the issue of medical parole for former president Chen,” he said at Taipei City Hall.
Hau has become the center of attention this week after he publicly endorsed on Tuesday the pan-green camp’s proposal for Chen to be released for medical treatment out of humanitarian concern.
As one of the KMT’s potential presidential candidates in 2016, Hau’s comments sparked heated discussions on the issue as his stance strayed from the traditional party line.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Wednesday said it was the Ministry of Justice that has the authority to decide whether to release Chen and he could not order the ministry to do so because it would be illegal.
Asked to comment on Ma’s response, Hau said he only suggested the government should form a medical team to assess Chen’s physical and mental condition.
“[Making a medical assessment] should be legal,” he said.
In response to opposition from some pan-blue members, Hau said he respected all opinions and that he had also received positive support from party members, friends and leaders of various civic groups.
“I believe the central government is making a great effort to continue reforms and improve the economy, but these efforts have been affected by political confrontation. It is time for us to join forces and fight for the economy,” he said.