Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) yesterday voiced his support for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to be granted medical parole, becoming the first KMT legislator to support pan-green lawmakers’ call to amend the Act Governing Preferential Treatment to Retired Presidents and Vice Presidents (卸任總統副總統禮遇條例) that would grant retired presidents and vice presidents preferential treatment based on their medical needs.
The former president, who is serving a 20-year sentence for corruption, has been staying at Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) for treatment following a series of ailments, including sleep apnea, severe depression, minor brain damage and suspected Parkinson’s disease.
A TVGH medical report on Chen’s condition on Monday suggested the Ministry of Justice allow Chen to return home for medical care and rest, or to be relocated to a professional psychiatric clinic near his home.
Chen’s attending physician, Chou Yuan-hua (周元華), said that if Chen returned to Taipei Prison the risk of him committing suicide was very high.
The report and Chou’s comment prompted pan-green lawmakers to renew their call for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to respect diagnoses made by medical professionals as he and other government agencies had previously said they would.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of the KMT on Tuesday also said that as Chen’s health is ailing and a professional diagnosis has been made, he hoped the ministry would listen to the doctors’ advice and consider the possibility of preferential treatment for retired presidents.
Liao, who is also the convener of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee — a committee with a majority of KMT members — made clear his support for medical parole for Chen yesterday.
Liao said if the KMT caucus does not have restrictions in place, he would support the opposition lawmakers’ proposed amendment of the act.
Party factions or factors should not influence the decision on Chen’s health issues, and Chen should be accorded a modicum of respect as a previous head of state, Liao said.
KMT caucus secretary-general Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) tried to douse the fire that Liao’s comments caused, saying that amendments tailor-made for specific individuals are “the worst amendments.”
KMT Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) added that the focus is not on whether the Act should be amended, but rather on whether Chen meets the required prerequisites for medical parole.