Presidential Office spokesman-designate Alex Huang (黃重諺) yesterday said that an invitation to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to president-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) planned state banquet on Friday has been issued by the incumbent administration.
“It is customary practice to invite former presidents and vice presidents to attend inauguration-related events of the nation’s new head of state. For a long time, the task of sending out invitations has been handled by the Presidential Inauguration Planning Committee in accordance with customary practices and regulations,” Huang told a news conference in Taipei.
Huang said preparation for the event has been planned and conducted based on past practices of the office’s departments, adding: “We respect such practices.”
Huang said the office — which is to be headed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) until Friday — is in charge of issuing inaugural invitations to former presidents, vice presidents, heads of the five branches of the government, as well as incumbent lawmakers.
As for former legislators and local representatives, their invitations are handled by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Huang said, adding that the division of labor is applied to both Tsai’s inauguration ceremony and ensuing state banquet.
Asked why Ma did not uphold customary practices and invite Chen to his inaugural ceremonies in 2008 and 2012, Huang said that the DPP respected the outgoing president’s decisions.
Huang made the remarks after media speculation on Monday over who issued an invitation to Chen and his wife for Tsai’s inaugural state dinner at the Taipei Marriott Hotel on Friday.
The issue has given rise to heated debate among lawmakers and members of society, who are largely divided on whether Chen should attend the event, given that he is on medical parole.
Chen, 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 Chen 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 to expire on Aug. 4.
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