Taipei, July 11 (CNA) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang said Wednesday he has joined a signature drive to request medical parole for former President Chen Shui-bian.
He has also written letters asking the public and DPP lawmakers, city and county councilors to support the drive, Su said after a party meeting earlier in the day.
It is the first time that Su has taken an open stance on the signature drive that was launched by National Taiwan University doctor Ko Wen-che, medical professionals and pro-DPP groups earlier this year.
He had said that it would have been "inconvenient" for him as party chairman to support the drive earlier but he did not elaborate.
Chen, who is serving a 17.5-year sentence for corruption, underwent cardiac catheterization and was diagnosed with prostate tumors earlier this year.
The party has been concerned about Chen's health and his right to medical treatment, Su said.
He noted that the DPP called on the government twice -- when Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu was acting party chairwoman -- to grant the former president medical parole on humanitarian grounds.
Su said he also considered making a similar request after he took over as party chairman in June, but later decided to allow public opinion leaders and civic groups to take the lead.
(By Justin Su and Scully Hsiao)