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Former president likely to rejoin opposition party

Former president likely to rejoin opposition party

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) Imprisoned former President Chen Shui-bian looked set Thursday to rejoin the opposition Progressive Democratic Party (DPP) as his allies said the move would help improve his health, while others warned of its possible impact on the party. Ker Chien-ming, a party elder and a heavyweight in the Legislative Yuan, said that he had submitted Chen's application for party membership earlier in the day. Ker's proposal for Chen to be readmitted to the DPP was approved by the party's central standing committee at a regular meeting Wednesday. Facing possible expulsion from the party, Chen withdrew his membership on August 22, 2008, three months after his second term as president ended. He was facing charges of corruption during his time in office between 2000 and 2008. Gao Jyh-peng, another DPP legislator, said it is within Chen's right to reapply for party membership and being accepted should help to improve his medical condition. Chiu Yi-ying, another strong supporter of Chen within the party, said that rejoining the DPP "would probably give Chen a glimmer of hope in his painful life in prison." Chen, who is serving an 18-year sentence, was transferred to a prison hospital in Taichung in mid-April after receiving treatment for depression and other health problems at a hospital in Taipei. While Chen's bid to rejoin the DPP appears to be a shoo-in, some members warned of potential damage to the DPP's prospects in local elections next year and in the 2016 presidential election. The people of Taiwan will not tolerate a party that condones Chen's corruption, said Lin Cho-shui, a former DPP legislator. Hsu Hsin-liang, a former DPP chairman and a critic of Chen, said there should be a discussion at the party's national congress this weekend on the former president's achievements and failures. A final verdict should be reached on Chen's performance, or the DPP will find it difficult to ever win power again, Hsu said. Chen, 62, has yet to admit to any wrongdoing and the DPP has never officially condemned the former president as corrupt. (By Tseng Ying-yu and Jay Chen)