Mon, May 06, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Chen Shui-bian attends memoir launch in Taipei

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

From second left, Academia Sinica associate research fellow Chen Yi-shen, former president Chen Shui-bian and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je attend the launch of Chen Shui-bian’s new book at the Taipei Mayor’s Residence yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday defended his right to make public appearances and express his views while on medical parole at the launch of his memoir at Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) official residence.

Chen thanked Ko for overseeing the completion of his book, Persistence — A Memoir of Chen Shui-bian Through Dictation (堅持─陳水扁口述歷史回憶錄), published by Taipei City Archives.

The publisher is administered by the Taipei City Government, and comprises a team of academics and researchers of Taiwanese history.

Ko said that he visited Chen to persuade him into giving interviews and documentation to the team, as government agencies and publishing houses had previously worked on memoirs of former Taipei mayors, but there was no such project for Chen.

“Chen is an important part of our history. After all, he was the Taipei mayor and served two terms as president. It is important to record Chen’s words, to document and preserve history for all of us,” Ko said.

“This memoir tells that period of history from Chen’s personal perspective,” Ko added.

“Everyone has their own interpretation of history. Our job was to record this history, so there can be better understanding in the future and [we did it] to reduce political discord in society,” he said.

Chen said his mood soured during his high-speed train journey from Kaohsiung, as some reporters followed him and filmed him constantly.

He condemned the reporters and photographers at the event, accusing them of attending the book launch only to focus on his hand tremors.

“I have medical problems and needed to rest on the train. Why did the media have to film me all the way from Kaohsiung to Taipei?” he asked.

“I was the president before, but now I have to prove my condition. This shows Taiwanese society has come to a sorry state,” he added.

Chen then asked Ko to speak on his behalf about his condition.

“The condition is real. They are the after-effects of a neurological illness,” Ko said.

Chen was in 2009 sentenced to a 20-year jail term for corruption, but was granted medical parole in January 2015 after being diagnosed with illnesses including sleep apnea, suspected Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis.

He obtained permission from the Taichung Prison to attend the book launch.

As one of the doctors on Chen’s medical advisory team, Ko said he had visited Chen when he was incarcerated at Taipei Prison.

“I saw that Chen was not treated very well there, that was why after becoming mayor, I did not have much to do with [former president] Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)],” Ko said.

Chen’s imprisonment “was not just an insult to Chen, but an insult to all Taiwanese. Despite this, I think all of us should let it go and not hold on to hate,” he said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and former minister of foreign affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山), as well as members of the team that worked on the book and city officials, attended the event.

Chen was a lawyer for the democracy advocates who were prosecuted following the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident. He served as Taipei city councilor from 1981 to 1985 and as a DPP legislator from 1990 to 1994. He served as Taipei mayor from 1994 to 1998, before serving as president from 2000 to 2008.

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