US representatives, French economist condemn treatment Taiwan ex-president

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – United States Representatives Steve Chabot and Eni Faleomavaega and senior French economist Guy Sorman spoke out Friday against the treatment former President Chen Shui-bian has been receiving amid grave health problems.
Chen is serving a 20-year prison sentence on charges of corruption, but his deteriorating health has led to him being shuffled between hospitals, despite a prominent campaign to have him receive medical parole.
Since Taiwan’s laws included provisions for medical parole, the authorities should take humane considerations into account and give Chen fitting care and treatment, said Chabot, the Ohio Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Chabot and Faleomavaega, a Democrat from American Samoa, visited Chen at the Taichung Prison’s Pei Teh Hospital Thursday before meeting with Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang Friday morning.
The opposition leader said he spoke a long time with his two US guests about bilateral relations and about the former president’s fate. Su said that when he served as premier, he had once hosted a dinner for Chabot at his official residence.
Chabot emphasized his long-standing interest in Taiwan and the numerous visits he had paid the country. He said he had met Chen several times, both in Taiwan and in the US.
The Congressman said that when he met President Ma Ying-jeou and other government leaders later Friday, he would mention Chen’s problems with them. The ex-president’s hands trembled and he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease while also facing other mental problems, Chabot said. No matter what Chen was in prison for, the US politician said he believed he should receive humane medical treatment.
Faleomavaega said that the former president was in really poor health and that he should be receiving the best possible care.
According to DPP officials, Chabot told Su that Chen had made valuable contributions to Taiwan’s democracy which could not be obscured. No matter whether Chen was still president or not, Chabot said he would continue to show concern for him because he was an old friend.
The Ohio Congressman said he was not qualified to interfere with the local judiciary and that he was not speaking on behalf of the US government or the House of Representatives, but he was showing concern for Chen on a personal basis. As a friend, he wanted the former president to receive good medical care and to have his human rights respected.
Speaking at a discussion with former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, senior French economist and political scientist Guy Sorman said that having a former president locked up in prison was a dark spot on Taiwan’s image as a democracy.
Forty years ago, Taiwan was still a dictatorship, but the way it had been able to develop into a democracy today was a good model to be followed, he told his audience. Even though Taiwan’s democracy was not perfect, it provided a positive model, he said.
One thing which caused him sorrow, Sorman continued, was that even though Taiwan was a democratic country, a former president was locked up in jail like a criminal. He said that as a European looking at Taiwan’s present situation, the case concerned him.
Emphasizing he was not planning to interfere with Taiwan’s politics, Sorman said he hoped the country could develop into a model for future developments in China.
The economist, 69, wrote a book titled ‘The Empire of Lies’ about social development and oppression in China, while he also warned against the unpredictability of that country as long as the Communist Party remained in charge.
Chen was suddenly transferred from the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei to the Taichung Prison’s medical facility in the early hours of April 19. Relatives, activists and human rights campaigners said the former president should benefit from medical parole, considering the sharp deterioration of his health during his stay at the Taipei Prison until last September.
The Taipei hospital’s report had advised Chen should receive treatment in a positive environment where he could benefit both from his family’s presence and from top medical advice, critics said.