Taipei, Sept. 5 (CNA)－Taichung Prison, which is responsible for disgraced former President Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) incarceration, said Wednesday that it has determined that Chen did not violate the conditions of his medical parole by expressing his political views during an unofficial forum that were published by a Japanese newspaper that day.
The prison said that this was because Chen did not “actively give the interview” and did not leave his residence in Kaohsiung. No punishment will be meted out to him.
Chen told Sankei Shimbun that in the face of China’s suppression, Taiwan should hold a national referendum to state explicitly that Taiwan “does not want to be part of China.”
It was billed by the Japanese newspaper as Chen’s first media interview in about 10 years after his term ended in 2008. Chen is on medical parole since January 2015 and has been living in Kaohsiung after serving six years of a 20-year sentence for corruption convictions related to his presidency.
The interview was conducted Aug. 2 in Kaohsiung in the format of an unofficial forum attended by reporters and leaders of Japan-based Chen-supporter groups.
Turning to Beijing’s poaching of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, Chen said that China’s purpose is to wipe out Taiwan’s existence in the international community in preparation for its annexation of Taiwan, according to the report.
It would not be strange if China moves to take Taiwan by force, Chen added.
He said it is not enough that Taiwan’s current Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration is sticking to a defensive stance on handling relations with China by maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, according to the report.
In the face of China’s military and diplomatic suppression, Chen said, Taiwan can only counter it with democracy. Therefore, he suggested that a referendum be held to show the world that Taiwan does not want to be part of China, according to the report.
The report also said that as Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party supporters are disappointed at the government’s efforts to counter China’s mounting pressure, there is a rising call among his supporters for Chen to make a return to the political arena.
It said that if Chen, a prominent leader of Taiwan’s pro-democracy movement in the 1980s, were ever allowed to again engage in political activities, this could cause significant changes to cross-strait relations and the situation in Northeast Asia, given his hardline
stance toward China.
Touching on Taiwan-Japan relations, Chen said in the interview that with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continuing to extend his goodwill toward Taiwan, the Tsai government should do more to respond to Japan’s goodwill.
Opposition Kuomintang legislative caucus whip Chiang Chi-chen (江啓臣) said Chen did not say anything new and that his referendum and diplomatic competition concepts had been broached during his presidency from 2000-2008, which not only accelerated cross-strait tension but also caused Taiwan to lose support from the United States.
Chiang said Chen’s recent comments were aimed at separating his policy platform from Tsai’s to boost support for candidates backed by him in the Nov. 24 local elections.