Independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) “saved National Security Council Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) last week,” apparently inadvertently confirming a rumor that King recently underwent a coronary artery stent operation.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and KMT mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) condemned Ko for what they described as a violation of medical ethics.
Ko, when replying to ongoing controversy over the hospital’s MG149 account, said that the KMT should stop damaging the nation’s medical research for an advantage in upcoming elections, especially when NTUH had saved Lien before and King last week.
“Barbaric as they may be, Western nations would not attack churches and hospitals [during war],” he said, adding that NTUH is the nation’s most important hospital and the center of medical research.
“[The account] has existed since 1994 and should not be seen as something corrupt,” he said.
He later described his revelation as “a slip of the tongue,” adding that he would no longer answer questions that concern patient privacy.
The rumor about King’s heart surgery was reported by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) earlier this week, but had not been confirmed nor commented on by the council.
Lien’s spokesperson Chien Chen-yu (錢震宇) railed against Ko, saying that the revelation was not a simple gaffe, but a serious violation of physicians’ medical ethics.
“The job of physicians is to save people, and keeping patients’ personal information to themselves is a basic principle. Ko, who is not even King’s attending physician, leaked King’s information and should be condemned according to a higher moral standard, as he is now a mayoral candidate.”
“Taipei City’s residents would not want a mayor who would leak their private information,” Chien said, adding that this was not the first time that Ko had done so, since Ko once “joked about Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu’s (胡志強) wife’s injury.”
Responding to Ko’s remark about not attacking churches and hospitals, Chien said Lien agrees with it, “but Ko is a candidate, not a church priest or a NTUH superintendent.”
“Ko should be responsible for his actions and remarks, which would be closely examined by citizens,” Chien said.
The revelation showed that Ko is “morally problematic,” Lien said.
KMT spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信) called Ko’s revelation a violation of basic physician professional ethics.
“Ko has been touting his ‘saving other people’s lives,’ which exposes his arrogance. There are many doctors saving lives every day in Taiwan, but nobody brags about it like Ko,” Chen added.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) disagreed with contentions that Ko’s revelation of King’s health status was a slip of the tongue.
“King is the nation’s National Security Council secretary-general and his health problem, if serious, would be a national security issue and concerns all nationals,” Tsai said.
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) agreed that people have rights to know about the health of high-ranking officials, within limits.
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