President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is willing to engage in dialogue with opposition leaders, the Presidential Office said yesterday, but it declined to comment on former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) medical parole request after New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) urged Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to address the issue.
Amid recent discussions on Chen’s medical state and the grounds for his parole, Yok yesterday expressed opposition to the proposal and slammed Ma and the KMT for failing to address the issue.
“We agree with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) who urged the government to face the issue. Ma and that the KMT should take a stance and make it clear and should explain to the public that the issue is a legal one,” Yok said.
Yok said his party, part of the pan-blue alliance, was opposed to the idea of granting Chen medical parole and expressed concerns that such a move could help Chen evade prison time. He addeed that granting Chen hospital visits under escort would be sufficient.
“The issue has drawn too much attention and there are more important issues we as a nation should focus on. Ma should carry out his campaign promise and hold a meeting with all party leaders to discuss national issues,” he said.
Presidential Office spokesperson Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) yesterday said Ma has always wished to meet with leaders to discuss important state matters and push for rational dialogue on public policy and will continue such efforts.
“The Presidential Office has extended invitations to opposition leaders for a meeting, but has not yet received any positive responses. We will continue these efforts and hopefully a national meeting with party leaders will be held soon,” he said.
In response to the proposed medical parole for Chen, Fan Chiang reiterated that it is under the authority of the Ministry of Justice and that the ministry will make a decision based on professional assessments.
The issue of Chen’s medical parole took a new turn after Hau of the KMT last week called on the Ma administration to address the issue. The ministry on Friday posted on its official Web site information on the circumstances of Chen’s imprisonment.
Hau yesterday said it was more important that the ministry handle Chen’s incarceration in a way that was acceptable to the public and reiterated that the ministry should form a medical team to assess Chen’s physical and mental condition.