Image credit: Wikipedia.
By Beth Main.
Foreign observers have spoken out against the incumbent Taiwanese government’s refusal to provide necessary medical aid to former President Chen Shui-bian who is currently serving a prison sentence for corruption during his term of office.
Chen was President of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008 as head of the Democratic Progressive Party, the liberal, pro-Taiwanese Independence party. In 2011 he was sentenced to consecutive jail terms of 18-and-a-half years and his wife to 19 years and two months, for accepting bribes and money laundering amongst other crimes. He is suffering from a combination of physical and mental problems in prison, although authorities claim his condition has vastly improved in recent months and he no longer suffers from severe depression.
Chen has continually received a string of visitors including family members and foreign individuals such as Hans van Baalen, a member of the European Parliament, former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. His condition has also been assessed by an American medical team.
After visiting Chen in November Tancredo said:
“I hardly recognized President Chen when I met with him in the hospital. There is no ‘misunderstanding’ about it. President Ma should resist the partisan demands of a few people on the fringe of his party, and grant President Chen medical parole. Taiwan’s democracy should be above this kind of political score settling.”
On November 16th the Ministry of Justice stated that Chen has received every possible attention and will continue to do so. They even suggest that he has been given preferential treatment due to his former political position.
In mid-November the American government seized two houses that belong to Chen’s family and were allegedly bought with bribery money. The properties (a condominium in Manhattan and a residence in Keswick, Virginia) have a combined value of approximately US$2.1 million. This move is part of Taiwan and America’s cooperation over the investigation of Chen’s extensive corruption, and an attempt to clean up his family’s assets in America.