Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) daughter yesterday said former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) covered up a minor stroke during his presidential campaign that forced him to suspend all activities for several days.
Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), who wrote a letter to the Chinese-language Liberty Times (Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) that was published on yesterday’s opinion page, said Hsieh called her father one day to say he had had a minor stroke.
Worried that it might affect the campaign, Hsieh did not visit a doctor, she said, adding that he canceled all public appearances for a while and claimed he had sprained his ankle.
The former first daughter said Hsieh was lucky in that the stroke only weakened one of his legs, allowing him to cover it up.
But his bad health prevented him from engaging in arduous campaign activities, she said.
“If it were not for his selfishness and refusal to let his running mate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) take his place, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would not have suffered such a resounding defeat,” she wrote.
“But when I later saw him on TV vow solemnly that there was nothing wrong with his health, it affected me deeply,” she wrote in her letter.
Chen Hsing-yu’s open letter came after her father’s new book, titled The Cross of Taiwan, hit shelves on Monday.
In the book, Chen Shui-bian questions Hsieh’s presidential campaign strategy and insinuates that Hsieh was responsible for the DPP’s defeat in last year’s presidential election.
In a chapter entitled “Striving upstream,” the former president said Hsieh’s health had been a problem and contributed to the election loss.
Hsieh’s office, however, said the former president was partly responsible for the defeat and dismissed Chen Shui-bian’s description of tension with Hsieh as “false.”
Chen Hsing-yu yesterday said that what her father had written about his tense relations with Hsieh was true.
The truth had emerged too late, she said, because not many people would pay attention to what a former president embroiled in a legal case had to say.
Chen Hsing-yu said her father had asked her to stay silent about Hsieh’s health, but that she had defied her father’s wishes because even her father “could not die in peace” because of the legal charges brought against him.
Why should she not speak the truth, she asked.
In addition to Hsieh’s health, Chen Hsing-yu said that her father asked her to keep quiet about donations he made to DPP members.
She said those who had accepted money from her father did not state it on their income tax returns and she was curious about where the leftover money had gone. They all swore an oath that they had never accepted money from her father.
She said that during the authoritarian era, all DPP members had dreams and ideals, but now they “lie, fabricate stories, abandon their dreams and sell their souls” to escape the crimes they have committed or hide their mistakes.
She said she hoped her father would never forget his dreams because they had kept his family going over the years and she was proud of him and always would be.
In response, Hsieh yesterday dismissed the allegation that he had had a stroke as a “groundless rumor,” saying that Chen Hsing-yu should know first-hand what damage rumors can do.
“She has been a victim, but now she has become a perpetrator,” he said.