Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Alliance defends Chen’s right to engage in politics

By Yang chun-huei  /  Staff reporter

Former president Chen Shui-bian, second right, speaks during a fundraising event on Sunday in Taipei for the pro-independence group 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign.

Photo: Chang Ching-ya, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Action Party Alliance yesterday defended former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) right to engage in political activities and give speeches while on medical parole, after Chen on Sunday attended a fundraising event for pro-independence group 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign.

During the event, Chen gave a speech criticizing the rules of Taichung Prison, from which he has been released on medical parole, and described the instiutituion as “hell.”

Chen said the prison has banned him from making public appearances at political events, and giving speeches and interviews, but he was determined to give his first public speech to the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign.

Taichung Prison Deputy Warden Tai Ming-wei (戴明瑋) on Sunday said the prison had yet to confirm whether Chen breached medical parole rules.

The prison will ask Chen to explain his actions as part of its investigation before making a decision on the matter, Tai said.

According to Article 3, Paragraph 6 of the Enforcement Rules of the Prison Serving Act (監獄行刑法施行細則), prisoners on medical parole are banned from engaging in any activities unrelated to their medical treatments unless approved by the prison, with the exception of activities necessary to sustain their daily life and profession, the alliance said in a statement yesterday.

As every Taiwanese knows, Chen is a politician and giving speeches is part of the profession, it said.

Chen was the nation’s president from 2000 to 2008, and prior to that he had been a legislator and the mayor of Taipei, it said, adding that politics is Chen’s expertise and engaging in political activities is necessary to his profession and to sustain his daily life.

Activities related to Chen’s profession could also help him recover from his illness, for which he was granted medical parole, it added.

The Ministry of Justice had asked Chen to sign an agreement accepting the prison’s ban on making public appearances and political comments, giving speeches and interviews before releasing him on medical parole, because it could not find any legal basis to ban those activities, it said.

Prisons should not ask prisoners under their care to sign a contract with them because of the power imbalance between the two parties, it said, adding that it is impossible to prove if Chen signed the agreement of his own free will.

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.

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