Tue, Oct 11, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Mixed reactions to Chen Shui-bian’s ceremony absence

By Yang Chun-hui and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should pardon former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as soon as possible and invite him to future state events, former presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) said yesterday.

On Sunday, Taichung Prison rejected Chen’s application to appear at yesterday’s National Day ceremony on the grounds that too many unanticipated contingencies might occur at the event and that it might not be able to provide the necessary medical care the former president needs.

Chen was released from prison on medical parole last year.

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) praised the decision in a prepared statement.

In response to reporters’ queries, Koo yesterday said that he believes the government should invite Chen to attend future official state events.

“The first priority is to issue a presidential pardon for Chen; the government has been sworn in for several of months and the matter has procrastinated long enough,” Koo said.

When asked whether he had made Tsai aware of his recommendations prior to the ceremony, Koo said: “She is much smarter than I am and the matter falls under Tsai’s prerogative. Why should I bring it up?”

CRITICISM

Separately yesterday, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), in response to reporters’ queries about Chen, criticized the government.

“The government has got to have a consistent way to do things; you do not have to give [Chen] an invitation [to the ceremony], but since you did invite him, why reject his application to attend? I do not know what they were thinking,” Ko said.

When asked whether he disapproved of the government issuing the invitation to Chen, Ko replied in the negative, emphasizing that his objection was the lack of consistency.

People First Party Secretary-General Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said Taichung Prison’s rejection of Chen’s application to attend the event was “the best decision” for the Tsai administration.

“I hope my compatriots will not put their entire focus on Chen Shui-bian. Our focus should be on the development of the nation, not past vendettas,” Liu said.

HEALTH ISSUES

Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said Taichung Prison’s rejection of Chen Shui-bian’s application was based on the former president’s medical needs and concerns over the unpredictability of events at the National Day ceremony.

An unanticipated contingency, such as a hostile demonstration, could have had a negative effect on the former president’s state of mind, Chen Ming-tang said, citing previous medical evaluations of Chen Shui-bian which said the former president needed a friendly environment.

Additional reporting by Hsiao Ting-fang and Chang Kai-hsiang

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