Democratic Progressive Party interim chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) yesterday expressed appreciation for Buddhist Master Hsing Yun’s (星雲法師) call to have former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) prison term changed to house arrest.
In an article published by the Fo Guang Shan Monastery on Monday, the founder of the monastery said Chen Shui-bian was thrown behind bars because he could not resist the “human temptation of greed.” Still, Hsing Yun said he would urge President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to give the former president “special treatment.”
Chen Shui-bian is serving a combined 17-and-a-half-year jail term after being convicted of corruption. Recently, he has requested visits to a hospital because of poor health.
The Republic of China is badly in need of unity at home and peace across the Taiwan Strait, and getting Chen Shui-bian out of jail and moving him to a private house where he could spend the rest of his life with his family would go a long way toward realizing that goal, Hsing Yun said.
Expressing gratitude to -Hsing Yun for his concern for the former president, Chen Chu yesterday said she hoped Ma could demonstrate leniency and respect, and provide for the former president’s basic humanitarian needs.
Saying Chen Shui-bian’s health is of high concern to the public, Chen Chu called on the government to swiftly release him for medical treatment.
In the same article on Monday, Hsing Yun also urged Ma to grant Justin Lin (林毅夫), who defected to China years ago and is now a vice president of the World Bank, a pardon and allow him to visit his family in Taiwan.
Lin’s defection to China in 1979 was a heinous crime back then, but cross-strait ties have changed so much that it is time to relinquish hostility and shelve controversy in pursuit of peace and friendly ties, Hsing Yun said.
Commenting on the matter, the Ministry of National Defense yesterday reiterated its stance that Lin is still a wanted criminal on charges of desertion and “if he returns [to Taiwan], he will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
The government has never stopped Lin from setting foot in Taiwan, ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said, but he stressed that it was important to deal with Lin’s defection based on the law.
Article 24 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces stipulates that “a person who surrenders to an enemy will be sentenced to death, imprisoned for life or imprisoned for not less than 10 years.”
Meanwhile, the Presidential Office said the president “is not currently considering” granting an amnesty to Chen Shui-bian and if Lin ever returned to Taiwan, he would be “handled in accordance with law.”