Images of seemingly healthy Chen spark new controversy

The debate over whether to pardon disgraced former President Chen Shui-bian (???) has resurfaced after he was filmed taking a walk near his house in Kaohsiung and chastising the man who shot the video with his smartphone.

In a video shot on Saturday and later posted online, Chen was seen trying to stop the man, identified by some media outlets as bread vendor Huang Shi-fu (???), from filming.

“What are you doing?” Chen asked angrily. “It is illegal (to do what you’re doing.) I can take you to court. I’ll do it.”

The video came less than two weeks after Huang posted a picture of Chen walking with another person near a fine arts museum in the former president’s neighborhood. Huang said he sells bread in the area and can often see Chen taking what he described as “a regular stroll.”

When posting the photo, Huang said Chen looked just like a normal, healthy individual.

The president’s son Chen Chih-chung (???) claimed the photo was a fake.

The senior Chen, who was in office from 2000 to 2008, has served more than six years of a 20-year prison sentence for several convictions on corruption charges.

He was given parole on medical grounds in January 2015 because of concerns the prison hospital could not adequately care for him as he battled several medical conditions, including depression, suspected Parkinson’s disease and brain atrophy.

For several years supporters of the first Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member to rule Taiwan have called on the government to grant him a special pardon, especially after Tsai Ing-wen (???) was elected president in January this year, becoming the second DPP member to take power.

Such a call also came from Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (??), a DPP stalwart, who has recently urged Tsai’s administration to deal with the issue of whether to pardon Chen “rapidly, legally, fairly and reasonably.”

The mayor argued that the issue is both legal and political and that the new government should be as tolerant as possible when dealing with political issues.

Pro-independence activists have claimed that the ex-president was a victim of “judicial persecution” by the Kuomintang (KMT) after the party came to power in 2008.

The KMT was defeated by the DPP in both the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 16, giving the DPP control of both the Presidential Office and the Legislature for the first time in history.

That prompted renewed calls for pardoning the former president.

As Chen Shui-bian’s health is often used as a gauge of whether he deserves a pardon, the latest video suggesting Chen is in good health only exacerbated the debate over the issue online.

Some netizens criticized him for faking his illness to avoid serving time in jail while others criticized the person who made the video for violating Chen’s human rights and for allegedly having a political motivation.

On the dispute over whether to grant a special pardon to Chen, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (???) has said that more research into the legal issues was needed.

In handling the issue, the government’s main principle is to avoid further confrontation between people of different political affiliations, Huang said.

The top priority at present, he said, is to ensure that the former president receives the best medical care and sees his health improve.

Seemingly unaffected by the video disturbance, Chen Shui-bian will attend a charity concert at the Kaohsiung Culture Center Sunday as planned, accompanied by his wife Wu Shu-chen (???), according to Chen’s family.

His family’s plan for Chen to attend the National Day celebration in front of the Presidential Office on Oct. 10 was rejected by the prison authorities.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel