U.S. Representative Robert Andrews (D-NJ) sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to all 435 members of the House of Representatives on Sept. 20 urging them to co-sponsor resolution HCR46 that concludes: "Congress urges the Government of Taiwan to grant former President Chen Shui-bian medical parole to ensure that he receives the highest level of medical attention, effective immediately."
The resolution was introduced by Andrews at the end of July but failed to draw widespread support.
The "Dear Colleague" letter reads: "Mr. Chen has languished in jail since December 2008 on corruption charges that Taiwan observers claim are politically motivated. Because of Mr. Chen's present poor physical and mental health, it is time that the former President is granted medical parole on humanitarian grounds so he can receive the treatment he needs."
Representative Andrews quotes from the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act: ""The preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people of Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States. The fact that a former head of state is treated in such a deplorable manner is clearly in violation of the values of democracy and human rights that we as a nation hold high. Congress cannot be silent when we believe these standards are not being met."
Andrews called for an end to the restrictions on Chen’s receipt of medical care: "Mr. Chen should be allowed to pick a care provider of his own choice and the process of granting medical parole needs to start right away. In Taiwan, the judicial system allows for medical parole and it is time for the government to allow Mr. Chen this right."
Mark Kao, president of the Formosa Association for Public Affairs, supports the Congressional appeal to help Chen Shui-bian: "The treatment of former President Chen is a clear violation of human rights. Any prisoner in a democracy should be allowed full access to adequate medical resources in order to treat physical conditions; let alone a former head of state."
“It is a disgrace that a former president is deprived of his basic human rights. We therefore urge the Ma government to also recognize the damage Chen's treatment continues to cause towards Taiwan's international image and grant President Chen full medical parole immediately."
The resolution for medical parole and access to appropriate medical care is highlighted by the latest appeal from Chen Shui-bian’s volunteer medical team.
On August 13, after Chen Shui-bian applied for medical care at his own expenses (based on the self-financed medical care law for inmates) with endorsement from his assigned doctor at Taichung Prison, a member of Chen’s volunteer medical team,Dr. Chen Chiao-chicy, a renowned psychiatrist, was finally allowed to examine Chen at the prison.
However, after Dr. Chen's examination, the team was told that each treatment visit must be approved as a new case. Dr. Chen Chiao-chicy's second application, as well as the application by Dr. Chen Shuen-shen, a world famous neurologist, have been put aside. The staff at Taichung Prison say they had no authority to approve the applications and they must wait for instructions from the Ministry of Justice. Currently, there is no Minister of Justice and the deputy minister does not respond to the doctors. As a result team members are not able to visit President Chen again, and the planned 2nd surgery to treat his severe sleep apnea is also unresolved.
Meanwhile, the former president of the Republic of China in-exile remains at Taichung Prison, where he has attempted suicide since his transfer from a locked psychiatric room at Taipei Veterans Hospital. Visitors report Chen suffers from continued problems of slurred speech, stuttering, and uncontrollable hand tremors.
Chen Shui-bian ruled the Republic of China in-exile from 2000 to 2008 and has been in jail since shortly after his term ended. Chen was convicted of alleged corruption following a controversial, no-jury trial. Chen supporters say he is the victim of a political vendetta by his successor, Ma Ying-jeou.