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Lawyer Chen Chun-han receives posthumous presidential citation

02/27/2024 04:32 PM
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Many officials, politicians and dignitaries attend the memorial service of Human rights lawyer Chen Chun-han in Hsinchu on Tuesday. CNA photo Feb. 27, 2024
Many officials, politicians and dignitaries attend the memorial service of Human rights lawyer Chen Chun-han in Hsinchu on Tuesday. CNA photo Feb. 27, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) Human rights lawyer Chen Chun-han (陳俊翰), who passed away on Feb. 11 at the age of 40, received a posthumous presidential citation from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Tuesday for his contributions to people with disabilities and his dedication to promoting fairness in Taiwan.

Tsai, accompanied by President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and Vice-President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), conferred the honor on a rainy morning at a public memorial service in Hsinchu City, where Chen grew up.

Tsai, after presenting the posthumous presidential citation to Chen's father, lamented the passing of the late lawyer and rights advocate as "a tremendous loss to Taiwanese society."

"Chun-han's brilliance will always stay in our hearts, and his aspirations will be entrusted to us to continue fulfilling... We will forever cherish your memory," Tsai said.

President Tsai Ing-wen presents the father of Chen Chun-han with the posthumous presidential citation for the late human rights lawyer on Tuesday. Photo captured from live stream of Democratic Progressive Party
President Tsai Ing-wen presents the father of Chen Chun-han with the posthumous presidential citation for the late human rights lawyer on Tuesday. Photo captured from live stream of Democratic Progressive Party

Chen excelled academically despite having spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) since childhood, a neurodegenerative disease that limited his physical movements, to the point were he could only move his eyes, mouth, and one pinkie finger by the time of his death.

He had the top score in Taiwan's bar exam in 2006 and obtained a Ph.D. in law from the University of Michigan in 2022.

After returning to Taiwan two years ago, the human rights lawyer worked tirelessly to champion the rights of people with disabilities before passing away due to suspected cold-related complications.

One of his main appeals was for Taiwan's national health insurance (NHI) system to fully cover expensive SMA drugs for all SMA patients rather than provide coverage to only some of them based on eligibility requirements.

Beyond proposing initiatives and participating in policy evaluations, Chen stood as a legislator-at-large candidate for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the Jan. 13 elections, but he was listed too far down the slate to get elected.

"Now, Chun-han should be free from pain, leaving behind the wheelchair and worries, soaring in the sky," said Lai, who is also the DPP chairman, recalling that Chen once said a good society allows every person to pursue their dreams without being limited by barriers.

"He might even be a shining star, radiating the brave, resilient light that guides everyone facing adversity to move forward courageously," Lai said.

(By Sunny Lai)

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