Time for A-bian to go back to prison

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

It’s time for for­mer pres­i­dent Chen Shuib­ian to go back to prison. There’s no rea­son why he is al­lowed to stay at home on com­pas­sion­ate re­lease from jail where he is re­quired to serve a 20-year sen­tence for cor­rup­tion and graft as well as money laun­der­ing while he was in of­fice from 2000 to 2008.

When Chen was re­leased on med­i­cal pa­role from the Beide Hos­pi­tal of the Taichung Prison on Jan. 5, he was told to re­turn to jail to serve the rest of his term, if his patho­log­i­cal con­di­tions turn bet­ter. He claimed to suf­fer from se­vere de­pres­sion, sleep ap­nea, para­noia of food poi­son­ing and a cou­ple of other dis­eases. He tried to com­mit sui­cide by hang­ing him­self with tow­els tied to­gether in his hos­pi­tal room on June 21, 2013. As a con­se­quence, the Agency of Cor­rec­tions un­der the Min­istry of Jus­tice con­cluded that he had a “risk of sud­den death,” if he were not sent back home to stay with fam­ily to con­tinue re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

One of the con­di­tions laid down for his home re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion was that the re­lease was just for one month, but can be ex­tended for another one to three months, if the con­di­tion of dis­ease does not im­prove. If there’s im­prove­ment, the parolee has to re­turn to prison. For that rea­son, the Beide Hos­pi­tal has to send a patho­log­i­cal con­di­tion as­sess­ment mis­sion once ev­ery one to three months to Kaoh­si­ung where Chen lives with fam­ily to find out if he does or doesn’t get bet­ter.

Ap­par­ently, Chen’s con­di­tion has been found to be just as bad as at the time he was freed from life be­hind bars. There is no lim­i­ta­tion to how many times the med­i­cal pa­role can be ex­tended; and so the parolee can stay with fam­ily as long as he wishes so long as the Beide doc­tors keep on find­ing no im­prove­ment. Is there re­ally no im­prove­ment? That’s the ques­tion China Times re­porters asked. They cov­ered a 50-minute walk Chen took in the Kaoh­si­ung Art Mu­seum park near the lux­u­ri­ous man­sion es­tate where he lives and re­ported it in de­tail with pic­tures for the latest is­sue of the pa­per’s Want Weekly ( ).

In the cover story of the weekly that claims to have a cir­cu­la­tion of 500,000 copies, Chen is de­scribed as a very healthy-look­ing man who walked so fast as to make his two guards trot be­hind him to catch up. He never used a walk­ing cane but used his cell­phone most of the time he was tak­ing the walk, rais­ing a hand over and over to salute passersby.

China Times re­porters also con­tra­dicted the claim about Chen’s patho­log­i­cal con­di­tion by his only son Chih-chung, who failed to get elected to the Leg­isla­tive Yuan in the last leg­isla­tive elec­tions.

Chih-chung, just as po­lit­i­cally am­bi­tious as his fa­ther used to be, claims: “Fa­ther’s cere­bral nerve le­sion hasn’t im­proved a bit. His brain at­ro­phy is 20 per­cent. His hands trem­ble and he stam­mers (be­cause of Parkin­son’s dis­ease). He can’t walk steadily. He has to wear a urine-col­lect­ing bag al­most all the time.” Well, pic­tures taken by China Times cam­era­men showed no signs of such a bag hitched to the parolee’s trousers dur­ing the walk. Isn’t it be­cause his con­di­tion has im­proved enough to take the 50- minute walk with­out the bag?

A Con­sum­mate Good Ac­tor

But there cer­tainly is some­thing a new Beide as­sess­ment team can do to as­cer­tain that the for­mer pres­i­dent is well enough to re­sume serv­ing the rest of his two- decade sen­tence. As a mat­ter of fact, I be­lieve, along with at least half of the peo­ple of Tai­wan, he is a con­sum­mate good ac­tor, who failed only once to fool them by play­ing sui­cide a lit­tle more than two years ago. I can­not say for sure he staged an as­sas­si­na­tion play on the eve of the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to beat Lien Chan by a ra­zor-thin edge, but I am con­vinced that he was ca­pa­ble of do­ing it.

Why? He was re-elected, thanks to the sym­pa­thy votes of swing vot­ers. Prac­ti­cally all the cor­rup­tion and graft of which he has been con­victed took place dur­ing his sec­ond and last term. While he was un­der trial af­ter he had stepped down, he pleaded with the U.S. Mil­i­tary Court of Ap­peals to or­der the nonex­is­tent U. S. mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment of Tai­wan to in­struct Pres­i­dent Ma Ying­jeou to im­me­di­ately re­lease him and coun­ter­mand his sen­tence of life im­pris­on­ment. In an at­tempt to es­cape im­pris­on­ment, the ex­pres­i­dent de­clared that dur­ing his two terms he car­ried out the or­ders of that Amer­i­can mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment as its agent and colo­nial gover­nor of Tai­wan. In other words, he cheated all those peo­ple who voted for him in the two pres­i­den­tial elec­tions of 2000 and 2004.

Cu­ri­ously enough, no cheated vot­ers call Chen a traitor. No con­dem­na­tion. No le­gal ac­tion was taken against him ei­ther for trea­son or even breach of trust or fraud. And there were more than enough doc­tors like pro­fes­sor Ko Wen-je, mayor of Taipei now, who love to vouch­safe to help the dis­graced for­mer pres­i­dent win med­i­cal pa­role. Of course, it’s much eas­ier to pre­tend to suf­fer de­pres­sion and in­con­ti­nence than to do away with one­self, though.

Yok Mum­ing, chair­man of the New Party, has sued for­mer Pres­i­dent Lee Teng-hui for trea­son just be­cause the ag­ing Iwasato Masao — the Ja­panese name he car­ried be­fore Tai­wan was re­stored to China at the end of World War II — told re­porters for Tokyo-based Voice mag­a­zine that he fought for his mother­land of Ja­pan while the Re­pub­lic of China un­der Chi­ang Kai-shek was at war with the Land of the Ris­ing Sun from 1937 to 1945. Has it ever oc­curred to Yok that he might do the same against Chen Shui- bian who breached the trust of the vot­ers by styling him­self as Un­cle Sam’s colo­nial gover­nor of Tai­wan?

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