By William Lowther / Staff reporter in WASHINGTON
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is coming under further attack from abroad for failing to grant medical parole to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Taiwan’s foreign and justice ministries said last week that Chen, who is serving an 18-and-a-half-year prison sentence for corruption, had been provided with the best living conditions and healthcare allowed under law and that he did not qualify for medical parole.
Ma administration officials also said that repeated calls by foreign officials for Chen’s medical parole resulted from a “misunderstanding” of the case.
Former US representative Tom Tancredo, who met with Chen in Taipei earlier this month, said yesterday that he “categorically rejected” claims that Chen’s health had improved.
“I hardly recognized president Chen when I met with him in the hospital,” Tancredo said.
“President Ma should resist the partisan demands of a few people on the fringe of his party and grant president Chen medical parole,” Tancredo added.
“Taiwan’s democracy should be above this kind of political score settling. There is no misunderstanding about it,” he said.
A US medical team that examined Chen in June said that statements from the Ma administration that Chen was receiving adequate medical treatment were “ludicrous.”
The team, including Ken Yoneda and Charles Whitcomb — both professors of medicine at the University of California — said in a joint statement that Chen’s imprisonment conditions were “substandard and inhumane.”
They said the conditions were a major contributing factor, if not the cause, of Chen’s current physical and mental problems.
Joseph Lin, the leader of the team, said that the conditions under which Chen was being held constituted a “gross miscarriage of justice and human rights.”
Lin said that in the Chen case, the Ma administration had dismissed the conclusions of former US government officials, various international organizations and a member of the European Parliament.
“I visited former president Chen in Taipei and I am convinced that he deserves better treatment,” Member of the European Parliament Hans van Baalen said.
“A medical parole is warranted, not only for the physical and mental health of Chen himself, but also to help Taiwan on the path towards political reconciliation,” said Van Baalen, who met Chen this month.
The Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is coordinating the drive by “foreign observers” to win better conditions for Chen.
FAPA President Mark Kao (高龍榮) said there was now “broad consensus” both within Taiwan and overseas about the need to grant Chen medical parole.
Taipei Times Fri, Nov 23, 2012
International observers decry Ma government refusal to grant medical parole to former President Chen
(Washington, D.C. -- November 21st 2012) – A number of individuals and foreign observers who have spoken out over the past several months to express their concerns over the failing health of Taiwan’s incarcerated former president, Chen Shui-bian, today strongly rebutted recent statements from Taiwanese government officials that Chen did not qualify for medical parole.
According to press reports, representatives of Taiwan’s foreign and justice ministries stated at a joint press conference in Taipei on Friday, November 16, 2012 that as a former president, “Chen Shui-bian has been provided the best living conditions and healthcare to the extent permissible by law and by the prison’s current facilities,” and that Chen “does not meet the conditions required for medical parole.”
Ma administration officials also characterized the repeated calls for medical parole for Chen by foreign officials and international organizations as resulting from a “misunderstanding” of the case.
Former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo, who saw the former President in Taipei on November 9, 2012, categorically rejected the ministries’ claims that Chen’s health condition had improved, saying: "I hardly recognized President Chen when I met with him in the hospital. There is no 'misunderstanding' about it." Tancredo continued: "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."
An American medical team that examined the former president in Taiwan in June called the government’s latest assertion regarding the adequacy of Chen’s treatment “a ludicrous exaggeration,” adding that “the limitations imposed on Chen in prison were in clear violation of the United Nations Minimum Standards for treatment of prisoners.” The team—which included Dr. Ken Yoneda and Dr. Charles Whitcomb, both professors of medicine at the University of California, Davis—reiterated their first-hand assessment that Chen’s “substandard and inhumane” imprisonment conditions were “a major contributing factor, if not the cause of his current physical and mental problems.”
The leader of the medical team, Joseph Lin, Ph.D., further indicated that the Ma administration’s “complete disregard and rejection of conclusions and recommendations of professional medical experts regarding the physical and mental condition of the former president” was “disturbing.” Dr. Lin pointed out: “To justify this gross miscarriage of justice and human rights, they had to be dismissive of conclusions reached by many, including former U.S. government officials, various international organizations and a member of the European Parliament.”
Mr. Hans van Baalen, leader of the Dutch Liberals in the European Parliament and President of Liberal International, also refuted the government’s contention that medical parole was not appropriate, emphasizing: “I visited former President Chen in Taipei, and I am convinced that he deserves better treatment. A medical parole is warranted, not only for the physical and mental health of President Chen himself, but also to help Taiwan on the path towards political reconciliation.” Van Baalen saw Chen in person during a trip to Taiwan in early November 2012.
Mark Kao, PhD, President of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, expressed his frustration with the Ma administration’s intransigence on this issue: “It is patently clear that there is now a broad consensus, both within Taiwan and overseas, about the need for medical parole for the former President Chen. It is inexcusable for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Justice Ministry to hide behind legalisms while blaming the press for the widespread criticism of the government’s handling of Chen’s health.”
Dr. Kao concluded: “As the Ma administration continues to drag its feet on doing the right thing and granting parole, the political divide in Taiwan will only continue to deepen, which will have a disastrous effect on Taiwan’s future as a free and democratic nation.”
今年六月曾赴台北會見陳前總統的醫療團成員，對於台灣政府宣稱陳前總統獲得妥適的醫療照護表示其「荒唐又誇大」。他們表示監獄中的情況已經違反「聯合國囚犯待遇最低限度標準規則」。該團成員─加州大學戴維斯分校醫學教授米田謙（Ken Yoneda，音譯）醫師及查爾斯˙威康（Charles Whitcomb）醫師表示他們的第一手評估認為陳前總統不合標準且不人道的監禁條件間接或直接造成其身心問題。
歐洲議會中的荷蘭自由派領袖及國自由聯盟主席漢斯˙凡巴倫（Hans van Baalen）議員也駁斥馬政府宣稱陳前總統不適合保外就醫的說詞。他強調：「我曾在台北見過陳前總統，而我堅信他應該獲得更好的待遇。准予保外就醫，不只是為了陳前總統的身心健康，更是促進台灣的政治和諧。」凡巴倫議員曾於本月稍早赴台灣會見陳前總統。