The Ministry of the Interior yesterday dismissed a media report that said it supports giving “special treatment” to former presidents and vice presidents in correctional institutions out of medical consideration.
As imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) health condition continues to raise public concern and trigger calls for him to be granted medical parole, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) and Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) recently proposed amendments to the Act Governing Preferential Treatment to Retired Presidents and Vice Presidents (卸任總統副總統禮遇條例) that would grant retired presidents and vice presidents preferential treatment based on their medical needs.
Since the proposed amendments are to be reviewed by the legislature, the ministry has sent in its comments on the proposals to the Legislative Yuan.
A Central News Agency (CNA) story yesterday reported that the ministry, while it opposed revising the law, believes that the correction al institutions should give retired presidents and vice presidents special treatment if it is deemed medically necessary.
“The ministry said that taking health and medical concerns into consideration, retired presidents serving jail time should be given special treatment by correctional institutions,” a CNA report said, citing the ministry as saying that the status of retired presidents and vice presidents “is different from others” since they had been privy to “confidential information concerning national security” during their terms in office.
Hence, when it is necessary — out of health and medical concerns — special treatment “should be provided by correctional institutions,” CNA reported.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) dismissed the report and said his ministry does not support giving special treatment to retired presidents and vice presidents behind bars.
“We do not support amending regulations on preferential treatment for presidents and vice presidents over the treatment they should receive if they have been sentenced to jail time,” Chien said later yesterday. “We also do not suggest that correctional institutions should treat retired presidents and vice presidents preferentially out of medical concerns.”
Chien said the written comments the ministry delivered to the Legislative Yuan merely noted that the ministry would respect any decision the judiciary makes, but did not suggest what it should do.
“After all, everyone should be equal before the law,” he said.
Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, was admitted to Taoyuan General Hospital on Sept. 12 after complaining of having difficulty urinating.
He later also complained of headaches and speech problems.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan conducted by the hospital showed that Chen had had a minor stroke.
Based on a recommendation by the hospital, the Ministry of Justice decided to transfer Chen to a different medical center for further examination.
Chen was transferred to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Sept. 21 for further examination.
Additional reporting by CNA