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Ex-president Chen Shui-bian attends fundraiser

2017/05/19 23:29:52

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) Former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) entered the main venue of a fundraising dinner in defiance of Taichung Prison and asked if his pre-recorded speech played at the dinner in Taipei on Friday will hurt the government.

"I want to ask if our government will fall just because it allows me to speak in public? Is it that serious?" Chen asked in the 4-minute 40-second video.

Chen, who is currently on medical parole from a 20-year jail sentence for corruption, arrived at the venue of the fundraiser in Dazhi, Taipei at 7:30 p.m. to the warm welcome of his supporters.

Among the conditions laid down by the Taichung Prison in allowing Chen to meet old friends at the event was that he could not enter the main venue of the gathering.

The ex-president ignored the condition, and took about 10 minutes to walk to the main table with the help of a cane.

After taking a seat, Chen chatted with former Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and exchanged toasts with the other eight people at the table, including former Presidential Office Secretary General Mark Chen (陳唐山), ruling Democratic Progressive Party Deputy Secretary General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

At 8 p.m., the pre-recorded video was aired.

The former president said he wanted to thank the Taiwanese people for using ballots to continue to create Taiwan's history.

He said there were no great governments or great presidents but only great people and noted that no political parties rule forever, with today's majority capable of becoming tomorrow's minority.

"The people today can let us rule, they also can strip our power. The final verdict of the people is merciless, but it is absolutely just," Chen said.

He said he also wanted to thank military personnel, teachers and civil servants, saying they are the backbone of a nation's stability, and asked that they not be "stigmatized."

Teachers and civil servants in particular have come under fire from segments of society amid a government pension reform campaign that has primarily targeted up to now cuts in their retirement benefits.

The former president said some have said he is an invalid, but even an invalid can be re-used, and he was wondering if he "should consider walking his own Taiwan path."

Chen stayed for about one hour at the main venue on the sixth floor of the building and then greeted his supporters on the fifth floor before leaving Dazhi at around 8:50 p.m.

The Taichung Prison, where Chen was incarcerated before being released on medical parole in early 2015 with various ailments, approved Chen's application to attend the fundraiser to meet friends based on five conditions.

Chen was allowed to go as long as he did not enter the main venue of the fundraiser, did not go on stage, did not give a speech, did not talk about politics and was not interviewed by the press.

Acknowledging that same of those conditions may have been violated, prison authorities said they will review the matter before taking any measures in response.

Chen, who has resided in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan since his release from Taichung Prison two years ago, took a high speed train to Taipei.

(By Lu Hsin-hui, Sophia Yeh and Lilian Wu)