The family and friends of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday denied a media report saying he had instructed his followers, known as the One Side, One Country Alliance (OSOCA, 一邊一國連線), to set up a new political party.
The Chinese-language China Times yesterday reported that Chen, who is serving an 18-and-a-half year prison sentence for corruption and is currently in hospital being treated for various ailments, told visiting friends on Monday that he was not happy with the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) efforts to get him medical parole and that “the time is ripe” for establishing a party.
Chen’s office confirmed the Monday meeting between Chen and Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) and Taipei City Councilor Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) in a press release yesterday, but said Chen did not mention establishing a party during their conversation.
Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), who visited the former president at Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday, also denied the report, adding that Chen appreciated the DPP’s assistance.
Creating party division and tensions between pan-green parties to seek medical parole for her husband was the last thing on her mind, Wu said.
“That would benefit the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and if anyone tried to do that, it would be out of ill intentions,” she said.
Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), accused the newspaper of exploiting his father, who is recovering from surgery to cure sleep apnea, and requires further treatment for depression and vascular dementia.
“My father is too weak to talk about politics right now,” he said.
Chen Chih-chung said his father had in June set four pre-conditions for establishing a new party — strong public support, consensus within the faction, integration of pro-Taiwan political forces and good timing.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) shunned media inquiries after visiting the former president and directed questions about the rumor to DPP Legislator Gao Gyh-peng (高志鵬), who is an OSOCA member.
Gao said Chen Shui-bian had never mentioned establishing a party or encouraged anyone to do so, but “he did say he hoped that the OSOCA could compete with the TSU in the elections in 2014.”
“He reiterated his loyalty to the DPP and he would never do anything to hurt the party. The media report is absolutely groundless,” Gao said.
Chiang said that what Chen Shui-bian wanted was for the association to expand its outreach and collaborate with as many grassroots civic groups as possible to do well in local council elections.
DPP legislators who are also members of the OSOCA, including Mark Chen (陳唐山), Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) and Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), said they were neither aware nor knew anything about such a plan.
Unlike other major groupings within the DPP, the OSOCA is a relatively loose association that includes seven legislators and 34 city councilors in the five special municipalities.