Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Liao Fu-pen, a controversial former legislator who was granted medical parole late last year, died of multiple organ failure at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) on Wednesday at the age of 75, according to his family.
Douliou City Mayor Hsieh Shu-ya, who is Liao's daughter-in-law, said he suddenly fell into a coma after a follow-up visit to NTUH just over a week ago and died around 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The body was taken back to Liao's hometown in Gukeng Township in Yunlin County the same night and the funeral is scheduled for July 4, Hsieh said.
Liao, a six-term lawmaker who helped pass several important bills during his many years as a Kuomintang (KMT) legislative whip, was sentenced in 2008 to six years in prison for his role in a stock counterfeit case involving an electronics company.
He was granted parole Nov. 24, 2011 on medical grounds after he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, diabetes and memory loss, according to Vice Justice Minister Chen Shou-huang. His prison termwould not formally end until April 11, 2015.
Before he was imprisoned, Liao had been confined to a wheelchair because of a stroke and spinal injury.
Liao was a high school teacher and head of the Tainan County Education Bureau before he became a legislator in 1983, at a time when Taiwan had not yet moved toward democratization.
Throughout his 18-year political career, Liao was known for his even temperament and his communication skills.
Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said Liao made a significant contribution to the passage of many key bills, including the National Health Insurance Act and the budget bill for the construction of the country's fourth nuclear power plant.
"In the early years of Taiwan's democratic reforms, the Legislature did not have democratic operational rules, and opposition by a single lawmaker could paralyze the entire legislative process," Wang recalled. "Liao spared no effort to communicate with opposition lawmakers to ensure smooth legislative sessions and the passage of several critical bills."
KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung said Liao was very kind and easy to get along with.
"I was a newcomer to the Legislature when Liao was the party whip. He was very kind and always ready to help junior members," Ting said. "He would be remembered for his even-handed way of dealing with thorny issues and inter-party negotiations," Ting said.
Ker Chien-ming, chief convener of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's legislative caucus, said Liao never tried to use the KMT's majority in the Legislature to steamroll controversial bills and always did his best to negotiate and coordinate with the opposition party.
Liao was nicknamed "red-envelope ben" (the last word of his given name) because he allegedly tended to ask grassroots people in his constituency for financial reward for his service. But those allegations were never proved. Instead, his supporters said, he was very generous to his aides and friends.
(By Yeh Tzu-kang, Huang Yi-han, Sherry Tang and Sofia Wu)