Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday dismissed speculation that he had political motives for endorsing a call for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to be granted medical parole, saying that he only aimed to heal social and political divides through his proposal.
In an interview with Broadcasting Corp of China radio show host Jaw Shao-kang (趙少康), Hau said he had expected opposition from pan-blue supporters, but he hoped the pan-blue and pan-green camps could put their differences aside and focus on economic issues.
“I did not make the comments to pave the way for a presidential bid ... I just believe that if we cannot heal the wounds and move forward as a society, I would be responsible for the divide as the mayor of Taipei,” said Hau, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Hau said medical parole and a pardon were two different issues, when asked whether he would grant Chen a pardon if he were president.
“There are legal procedures for a pardon, including a final verdict, confession, apology and returning the money [from Chen], and without [meeting] those conditions, there won’t be discussion of a pardon,” he said.
Hau on Tuesday publicly endorsed the pan-green camp’s proposal for Chen to be granted medical parole out of humanitarian concerns and called on the government to adopt a more conciliatory approach to handling the case.
As one of the KMT’s potential future presidential candidates and son of former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), Hau’s comments sparked disputes between the pan-blue and pan-green camps, and raised speculation about his potential presidential bid.
Hau said that he did not discuss the issue with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) before making the remarks, adding that the president did not call him afterwards. He also dismissed concerns that his comments would undermine the Ma administration.
“I just want to remind the government to address the issue immediately. A former president deserves to be treated with respect, and both camps should end this political divide at a time when Taiwan is facing economic difficulties,” he said.