National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), a member of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) private medical team, on Saturday called on the government to “let Chen go home,” saying that the incarcerated Chen’s condition is deteriorating.
Ko, who plans to run as an independent in the upcoming Taipei mayoral election, issued the call at an event organized by the Ketagalan Foundation, which was founded by Chen.
Ko said that the former president, who is serving a 20-year sentence for corruption at a prison in Greater Taichung, has to wear adult diapers due to urinary incontinence.
The physician had previously warned the government about health complications that Chen was suffering after sustaining brain damage and has urged President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to commute Chen’s sentence to house arrest because his condition is unlikely to improve if he remains in prison.
Chen’s case is one of medical human rights, Ko said at the event, adding that removing the former president from jail would also benefit social harmony and reduce divisions over the issue.
Ko reiterated that all Chen was asking for was a fair trial, not amnesty or medical parole, and that he should not have been treated differently by the judiciary because he was once president.
Ko’s remarks came as he is waiting to see if his bid to become the “pan-green camp’s candidate” in the Taipei election will succeed.
Ko has been leading all pan-green camp aspirants in public opinion polls as an independent, but is awaiting a final “integration” with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) contenders, after he and the party reached a consensus that divisions in the pan-green camp would guarantee an easy victory for the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate, former Taipei EasyCard Corp chairman Sean Lien (連勝文).
The DPP has decided on a two-stage mechanism to pick a candidate to represent the pan-green camp that involves four DPP members competing in the first phase of the process in a public opinion poll that could be conducted this week, with the winner then pitted against Ko in stage two.
The four DPP aspirants are former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and DPP lawmakers Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) and Pasuya Yao (姚文智).
Both Koo and Yao have claimed that they lead the four DPP contenders in support rates.
According to Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬), director of the DPP’s Department of Organization, the first stage is to be completed before May 14 and the second phase within a month, which means that the pan-green camp’s candidate will likely be announced in the middle of next month.