Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman candidate Steve Chan (詹啟賢) yesterday published a series of slides to answer some of the questions about the “319 shooting incident” involving former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), in a bid to fend off speculation within the party about his potential role in the incident.
“Exactly 13 years ago today, a significant incident occurred in Taiwan. Even 13 years later, people still ask me questions about it,” Chan wrote on Facebook, saying that his name has been associated with the shooting although he was not the one who pulled the trigger.
The 319 shooting incident refers to an alleged assassination attempt against Chen and then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) in Tainan on March 19, 2004, one day before the presidential election.
A bullet grazed Chen’s stomach and left a 13cm wound, while another bullet hit Lu in the knee.
The incident sparked conspiracy theories, as Chen later won the election by less than 30,000 votes.
Although an investigation identified the gunman as Chen Yi-hsiung (陳義雄), a Tainan resident who apparently committed suicide shortly after the incident, some people question whether he was the shooter or if he acted alone.
Chan, the then-superintendent of Chi Mei Medical Center, whose Tainan branch treated Chen Shui-bian and Lu, is facing accuations that he might have covered up the incident’s details as the KMT’s May 20 chairperson election draws near.
Shrugging off questions about why the two Democratic Progressive Party candidates were not sent to a hospital closer to the crime scene for treatment, Chan said Chi Mei’s Tainan branch was the closest hospital by the time the doctor accompanying Chen Shui-bian examined his injuries.
“The choice was made after various traffic factors were considered to determine which hospital could be reached within the shortest time,” Chan said.
Chan also cited video recordings of Chen Shui-bian’s treatment to dismiss speculation that his injuries might have been fabricated, saying that he had no prior knowledge about the attack and that he was getting a haircut when Chen Shui-bian arrived at the hospital.
Regarding former KMT legislator Wang Chung-yu’s (王鍾渝) allegation that a nurse at the hospital was told to “stand by” a day before the attack, Chan said the claim was most likely a fabrication, as the hospital was unable to identify the nurse.
Although many questions remain unanswered, such as whether the shooting was authentic, whether Chen Shui-bian really sustained a bullet wound and whether the alleged shooter was murdered, one thing is certain: “Chi Mei Medical Center and I played no part in the attack,” Chan said.
“We provided nothing but professional medical service,” he added.