NTU Hospital physician says he is being persecuted by the government

OUTSPOKEN::Ko Wen-je is known for his criticism of the treatment of former president Chen Shui-bian and alleges he is being harassed by authorities

By Tang Chia-ling and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, May 10, 2013 - Page 3

After being summoned for questioning in a judiciary investigation this week, National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) decried what he said was political persecution.

“Why is the government harassing me?” Ko said.

Ko, director of the Department of Traumatology at National Taiwan University Hospital, has been known for his outspoken criticism of the treatment of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) by the government.

Ko said he had been under judicial investigation about eight or nine times concerning several different cases by various agencies, including the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, the Control Yuan, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Taiwan Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation.

The latest is a case involving the judiciary’s investigation of academics allegedly misusing receipts for research material or equipment to falsely obtain the National Science Council’s (NSC) reimbursements. Ko was summoned for questioning today as a suspect in the case.

“I will comply and go, but I feel like a lamb being led to the slaughter,” Ko said.

Ko said he has called the prosecution officials in a bid to find out more about what he is being accused of, but received the reply: “Please don’t make it difficult for us. We are just following orders from our superiors.”

Ko said he is exasperated over what he perceived as being “targeted for investigation.”

“Why does the Ma [President Ma Ying-jeou, 馬英九] administration keep using the political apparatus to harass me? Is it trying to test my willpower?” he said.

“The corruption charges for this NSC ‘falsifying receipts’ case carry a jail term of 10 years or more,” he added. “This is clearly blackmailing.”

Ko’s assistant had already been summoned for questioning.

Ko said that several attending doctors at the hospital share one assistant, and that he got involved in the case because his research grants might be involved with a receipt for a recording device.

He quoted his assistant as saying that the two-hour questioning session revolved around two questions: “Is Ko aware of the purchase of the recording device?” and “Who bought the recording device?’

“We have a system in place that has resulted in a judicial investigation of more than 100 professors. The system is the problem,” he said, referring to cases earlier this year involving dozens of professors, associate professors and research staff from universities across the country indicted on corruption charges for allegedly using false receipts to claim research funds, as hundreds of similar cases are being investigated.

“This system granted the authorities the latitude to selectively charge and prosecute people, thus causing mutual distrust and social disharmony,” he said.

“We may have high-speed railway and mass transit systems, but these do not represent a civilized society. For that, we must have basic core values and democracy,” he added.

Saying he had not gained any funds illegally, Ko said he believed the government is pointedly targeting him for investigation, “just to make me run around and tire me out trying to deal with the whole thing.”

In a display of his own brand of humor, Ko said: “I should change my title to head of ‘mental traumotology’ department.”