Foreign calls for Chen’s medical parole growing

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is coming under further attack from abroad for failing to grant medical parole to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Taiwan’s foreign and justice ministries said last week that Chen, who is serving an 18-and-a-half-year prison sentence for corruption, had been provided with the best living conditions and healthcare allowed under law and that he did not qualify for medical parole.

Ma administration officials also said that repeated calls by foreign officials for Chen’s medical parole resulted from a “misunderstanding” of the case.

Former US representative Tom Tancredo, who met with Chen in Taipei earlier this month, said yesterday that he “categorically rejected” claims that Chen’s health had improved.

“I hardly recognized president Chen when I met with him in the hospital,” Tancredo said.

“President Ma should resist the partisan demands of a few people on the fringe of his party and grant president Chen medical parole,” Tancredo added.

“Taiwan’s democracy should be above this kind of political score settling. There is no misunderstanding about it,” he said.

A US medical team that examined Chen in June said that statements from the Ma administration that Chen was receiving adequate medical treatment were “ludicrous.”

The team, including Ken Yoneda and Charles Whitcomb — both professors of medicine at the University of California — said in a joint statement that Chen’s imprisonment conditions were “substandard and inhumane.”

They said the conditions were a major contributing factor, if not the cause, of Chen’s current physical and mental problems.

Joseph Lin, the leader of the team, said that the conditions under which Chen was being held constituted a “gross miscarriage of justice and human rights.”

Lin said that in the Chen case, the Ma administration had dismissed the conclusions of former US government officials, various international organizations and a member of the European Parliament.

“I visited former president Chen in Taipei and I am convinced that he deserves better treatment,” Member of the European Parliament Hans van Baalen said.

“A medical parole is warranted, not only for the physical and mental health of Chen himself, but also to help Taiwan on the path towards political reconciliation,” said Van Baalen, who met Chen this month.

The Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is coordinating the drive by “foreign observers” to win better conditions for Chen.

FAPA President Mark Kao (高龍榮) said there was now “broad consensus” both within Taiwan and overseas about the need to grant Chen medical parole.