President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) distorted the facts when he said granting former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) medical parole would “actually mean him being released from prison,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.
Ma’s comments, published in an interview with the Central News Agency on Monday, were interpreted as his rejection of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) recommendation that the government consider medical parole for Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption.
In the interview, Ma said the question of whether Chen should be released on medical parole was not a political issue, but a legal and medical one.
“If Ma said [granting medical parole] was a legal issue, then he should understand the law correctly and should not distort the law,” Su told reporters yesterday morning.
The law clearly stipulates that a prisoner has to return to prison after receiving appropriate medical care and that the time spent out of the prison counts against his prison term, Su added.
Chen has been plagued with illnesses and complications in prison, Su said, adding that the request for a professional medical team to make an assessment of the former president’s health was a humble one, as well as a human right.
Su went on to criticize Ma for his comments about the DPP’s recent engagements with China.
Describing the DPP sending delegations to China as “too cautious,” Ma said the party had done too little on the issue and the personnel that they had sent to China were not very high up in the party’s structural organization.
Su said he was surprised at Ma’s comments because “engagement with Beijing is a serious issue, not an issue about who’s bold and who’s timid.”
The chairman reiterated that the DPP would insist on engaging China at its own tempo, while standing firm on its policies.
Su also denied a Presidential Office statement which said that the office had contacted the DPP eight times to set up a meeting between Ma and Su, but that it had failed to get a response from the party.
Su said that Presidential Office Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) had only made one telephone call to DPP Secretary-General Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀) about a meeting since he assumed the party chairmanship in May.