Taichung Prison yesterday warned former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is on medical parole, against accepting an invitation to attend president-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration state banquet on Friday.
“The upcoming state banquet is not being held at a medical facility, nor is it a medical event in nature. The activities Chen participates in must be related to his medical needs, or he might violate the provisions of his medical parole,” prison warden Huang Wei-hsien (黃維賢) said.
Huang said Chen would risk having his medical parole revoked should he violate the rules, but added that the decision on whether to cancel the former president’s parole lies with the Ministry of Justice.
Huang made the remarks hours after Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), posted on Facebook a picture showing an invitation addressed to his parents along with two VIP passes for Tsai’s state dinner, which is to be held at the Taipei Marriott Hotel on Friday evening.
Chen Chih-chung said whether his parents would attend the state banquet hinges on a professional evaluation of his father’s health, adding that the invitation was issued by the incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government out of respect for former presidents.
Chen Shui-bian, who was in office from 2000 to 2008, has served more than six years of a 20-year prison term for several convictions on corruption charges.
Medical parole granted to the former president has been extended six times since he was first granted compassionate release from the prison’s Pei Teh Hospital in January last year. The former president’s health is re-evaluated every three months, with his seventh parole term set to expire on Aug. 4.
Although it remains uncertain whether Chen Shui-bian will make an appearance at the banquet, the matter galvanized a heated debate yesterday.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Policy Committee director Alex Tsai (蔡正元) criticized the DPP’s issuance of an invitation to Chen Shui-bian, saying that inviting a corrupt politician to a state banquet when he is still in the midst of his prison sentence would set a ridiculous precedent.
However, DPP Legislator Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said the banquet should be regarded as an opportunity for Chen Shui-bian to “go out and relax.”
“Is walking on the streets medically related? It should be OK for the former president to go out and relax,” Koo said.
New Power Party caucus convener Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said news of the invitation was “heartwarming,” but that it would be up to Chen’s family to decide whether to attend.
Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said while the purpose of medical parole is for the inmate to receive medical treatment, she would not oppose Chen Shui-bian’s attendance at the state banquet should he obtain prior approval from the concerned government agencies.
Additional reporting by Abraham Gerber
The Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office has listed six people as suspects in a judicial investigation into a fatal train crash on Friday last week. Fifty people were killed and more than 200 were injured when the Taroko Express No. 408 train slammed into a crane truck that had slid onto the tracks near the entrance of Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The office also summoned six officials at the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Hualien Engineering Section for questioning about alleged illegal business operations and unsafe work conditions by Yi Hsiang Industry Co and Tung Hsin Construction Co, the two
SUPPORTING DEMOCRACY IN ASIA: Twitter aims to ‘play a unique role in enabling the public conversation around important social movements,’ the US company said Twitter has thrown its support behind the “Milk Tea Alliance” of democracy movements in Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia, defying China at a time when Beijing is punishing Western companies for commenting on what it considers internal matters. The social media company yesterday prominently displayed flags of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Thailand while unveiling an emoji to support democracy advocates in places that have in the past few years seen historic protests and share a love for the beverage. The emoji will automatically show up when users post the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag, which was posted been 11 million times
A pig carcass found in New Taipei City on Sunday has been confirmed to be infected with African swine fever (ASF), the Council of Agriculture said on Tuesday. It is the first case of a pig being confirmed with the disease on Taiwan proper, although nearby pig farms have been cleared of the disease, the council said. Coast guard officials found the carcass near Guihou Harbor (龜吼漁港) in Wanli District (萬里) early on Sunday, and test results the next day showed that it had been infected with African swine fever, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news
TEMPERED EXPECTATIONS: Although analysts welcomed the updated guidance from Washington, Taipei should push back on ‘unnecessary’ restrictions, they said New US guidelines expanding official contacts with Taiwan might be a positive step, but Taipei should still try to break down limits on bilateral interactions that stem from Washington’s “one China” policy, foreign affairs analysts said on Saturday. On Friday, the US Department of State announced that it had issued new guidelines to “liberalize” government contacts with Taiwan, which it said were designed to “encourage engagement ... that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship.” Although not made public, the guidelines would reportedly allow US officials to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts in US federal buildings and at Taiwanese representative offices in the US,