Pro-localization groups and the “One Side, One Country” political group plan to hold two meetings to explain why they have launched a signature drive asking that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) be pardoned, Taiwan Hakka Society chairman Chang Yeh-shen (張葉森) said yesterday.
The petition asks President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to exercise his presidential prerogative to pardon Chen, who is in Taipei Prison serving a 17-and-a-half year jail sentence for embezzlement.
“We are actively pushing for Chen’s pardon, not because we are going against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but because we want to pressure the Ma administration,” Chang said.
Because of claims that the judiciary had not given Chen a fair trial, “we’re throwing the ball in Ma’s court now,” Chang said.
Chang said that between 30,000 and 40,000 signatures had been gathered over the Internet asking for a pardon for Chen, and many had been gathered in person.
“We haven’t counted the total yet, but a conservative estimate would be about 50,000,” Chang said, adding that it was possible it could be as many as 100,000.
DPP party headquarters Taipei branch committee head Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said he was glad to see the pan-green public mobilizing for a signature drive for the pardon. He said it would put the Ma administration under pressure.
Pro-localization groups have also been making multiple efforts to seek a pardon for Chen, and after visiting former DPP chairperson Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), pro-localization groups are planning to visit former DPP chairperson Lin I-hsiung (林義雄).
Acting DPP Chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) said yesterday everyone shared the same concerns for Chen Shui-bian.
Because the power to pardon Chen Shui-bian lies with the president, what would be more practical would be to petition to have the former president moved to another prison, or to petition that he be put on temporary probation to allow him to undergo medical treatment, Chen Chu said.
“There are many differing opinions on the issue of pardoning Chen Shui-bian and I would not ask for party workers or civil servants to share my opinion, as I respect their right to express their opinions,” Chen Chu said.
As of press time, pan-green party workers or members that have signed the petition include former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Hsu, Greater Kaohsiung councilors Hung Ping-lang (洪平朗), Hsiao Yung-ta (蕭永達) and Cheng Hsin-chu (鄭新助), seven DPP legislators and more than 40 pan-green city and county councilors.
Meanwhile, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the DPP caucus had not made any decision to ask for a pardon for Chen Shui-bian, adding that as a pardon should come only once all related cases have been concluded, it would be tantamount to asking him to plead guilty in the second financial reform case, which still has to go to trial.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer