Chen’s son-in-law bows out of Olympic team

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

President Chen Shui-bian’s son-in-law Chao Chien-ming has decided to bow out of the Olympic medical team amid heated criticism that he was awarded the trip to Athens because of his background. Chao, currently an orthopedic surgeon at Taipei Hospital under the Department of Health, came under criticism last year when he and his dentist wife went on holidays in the middle of the SARS outbreak while opting out of charity work. He declined to comment on the matter yesterday morning, saying that he was in the middle of an operation. The Presidential Office said in a statement that Chao decided to bow out of the trip because the incident was being played up and had caused trouble and misunderstanding. And Chao’s decision was made after consulting with President Chen and first lady Wu Shu-chen. “The first family hopes the controversy will stop here and no more trouble will be caused by Chao’s participation in the medical team or not, to shift the focus of Taiwan’s participation in the games,” the statement said. Chao’s mentor Dr. Han Yi-hsiung of National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), who recommended Chao to the Olympic medical team, complained that the “simple matter” was blown up by the media.

Speculation was circulating that another doctor who’s already on the Olympic medical team would be forced out if Chao did get to go to Athens because of his special background.

Taiwan’s Olympic commission had submitted the medical team’s member list to the organizer and Chao reportedly was not included.

Chao’s possible participation in the Olympics medical team also fueled speculation that his mother-in-law was planning a trip to Athens to promote Taiwan’s standing in the international community. But the Presidential Office denied that the wheel chair-bound Wu was planning to attend the Olympics opening ceremony. Han, who was commissioned by the local Olympic commission to recruit doctors for the medical team, stressed that he invited Chao to go along because of the later’s qualifications. But Han said that at this point it would be better for Chao not to go.

“I don’t know if Chao will force the other out but he is capable for the job. But after all these criticism, he’s better off not going,” Han said.

Opposition lawmakers charged that Chao was accorded special privileges because he’s married to the president’s daughter. He was also blamed for vying for the exciting Athens trip while opting out of relief work in disaster-stricken areas. Chao has defended himself by saying that he is willing to go to areas in central and southern Taiwan devastated by massive flooding but added that a doctor specializing in bone ailments was probably not needed.