Taiwan ex-President Chen Shui-bian will not form new party: Relatives

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former President Chen Shui-bian has no plans to form a new party, his wife and son said Thursday.
The former head of state is serving an 18-and-a-half-year prison sentence on charges of corruption, but he has been staying in hospital since September 21, mainly to undergo psychiatric treatment for a severe depression.
Thursday morning, he was visited at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei by his wife Wu Shu-jen, opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, legislator Lawrence Kao and Taipei City Councilor Chiang Chih-ming.
Asked by reporters about an article in the Chinese-language China Times saying her husband was planning to form a new political party, Wu gave a negative reply. If there was support at the grassroots for such a move, she would not interfere with it, but she hoped everyone would sit down and discuss the options, Wu said.
The former First Lady told reporters that the DPP showed a lot of concern for Chen, and that Su could visit the grassroots, as those people originally also formed part of the opposition party.
She said she hoped that supporters would not split the opposition and indirectly help the ruling Kuomintang just for the sake of saving her husband. She also denied her daughter, Chen Hsing-yu, would run for a seat in the Legislative Yuan, but added she had not consulted her son. Chen Chih-chung, about his intentions. Chen ran for a seat in Kaohsiung as an independent last January but lost the election.
Su did not reply to reporters’ questions, but authorized Kao to say that Chen had not recently discussed the possibility of forming a new party. All he had said was that he hoped his own ‘One Side, One Country Alliance’ could compete with the Taiwan Solidarity Union in the 2014 regional and local elections, Kao said.
The former president described himself as a faithful supporter of the DPP unable to harm the party who had raised him, Kao said.
Chiang, a close confidant of the ex-president, said Chen hoped his movement would cooperate with social movements and win as many as 100 seats in local councils in 2014. The honorary convener of Chen’s alliance, former Foreign Minister Chen Tan-sun, said he was completely unaware of any moves to set up a new political party.
The former president’s son, Chen Chih-chung, also denied his father was about to form a party. What happened was that a visiting friend told Chen that there was a grassroots feeling in favor of such a party, the son said.
In the past, Chen said that if 1 million people joined his alliance, if members and elected officials agreed, if pro-Taiwan organizations integrated and if the time was ripe, then it would be possible to establish a new party, Chen Chih-chung said.
The younger Chen said that in strongholds in Southern Taiwan, one would often hear support for the idea of a new political party.
He said it was still possible that the former president would reapply for membership of the DPP. He lost his party affiliation in 2008 in the wake of corruption scandals after he finished his second and final term in office.
Leading members of Chen’s alliance reportedly felt the DPP was too quiet in its support for the ex-President and had neglected his human rights. On the DPP side, commentators said the alliance felt Chen’s fate and the cause for Taiwan Independence had received too little attention from the party leadership. Threatening to form a party would attract more attention and might convince the DPP leadership to focus more efforts on their favorite causes, reports said.
In a related event, Chen Chih-chung lost his appeal Thursday against his expulsion from the Kaohsiung City Council. After a court had confirmed his three-month prison sentence last year for perjury in one of the corruption trials surrounding his father, he had been forced to leave the council.
Chen argued that since he did not have to enter jail and had performed three months of social service instead, he should not lose his function as a councilor. However, the High Administrative Court in Taipei ruled against him Thursday. A further appeal was still possible, reports said.