Chen Shui-bian tells why he attempted suicide in Taichung Prison ◎ MICHAEL RICHARDSON 06-09-2013



Dr. Chen Shun-sheng made his third visit to Chen Shui-bian at Taichung Prison since the former Republic of China in-exile’s president was abruptly moved two months ago. Dr. Chen released his interview report with Chen Shui-bian on June 5 where the former leader describes what moved him to attempt suicide last weekend.

The suicide attempt was Chen Shui-bian’ssecond try in as many months. On the day Chen learned he was going to be moved to Taichung Prison from his locked psychiatric room at Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Chen attempted to hang himself on a doorknob inflicting a 6 cm wound on his neck. On Sunday, Chen tried to hang himself with a towel from a shower fixture at the prison according to the ROC Ministry of Justice.

Dr. Chen’s translated account of his interview with Chen Shui-bian follows:


“President Chen, while stuttering badly, told me and other visitors his thoughts. I could tell from his words his devotion to Taiwan, his expectation to his fellow DPP members, and his unmistakable disappointments.”

“Chen points out that it is a very tough mission to achieve Taiwan Independence. Chiang Kai-shek and his son imposed “Republic of China” over Taiwan. President Lee called it “Republic of China on Taiwan”. Meanwhile, President Chen took three steps, starting with “Taiwan is Republic of China”, then “Taiwan is not China”, and then the final step, “Taiwan and China are two different countries across the Strait.” His last step angered both China and the United States.”

“The actual actions Chen took to abolish “National Unification Policy” and to seek “UN and WTO Memberships in names of Taiwan”, made the US, China, and deep blue people enraged, leading to his current imprisonment.”

“Chen knew that he could not achieve Taiwan Independence during his terms but he would like to build a foundation and a momentum, so that his successors could continue to push and to complete it. However, he is disappointed and saddened that DPP and its presidential candidates all abandoned it and chose to steer clear of it. He worries about the future of Taiwan and understands the hopeless situation of his, both driving him into deep depression.”

“As a psychiatric doctor, I was able to listen to Chen…to know first-hand why he attempted suicide. This is why I wrote this report so that Taiwanese will understand him.”

“All other visitors heard the same statement as I reported here. The prison authority also recorded the whole conversation.”

“When Chen was discussing Taiwan’s future and politics, he kept on talking even though he was stuttering badly and his right hand was trembling uncontrollably. When the topic turned to his illness and his appetite, he told us that he ate everything sent to him by his supporters. When we asked him what he ate for lunch, he replied that he did not bother to remember these daily trivia because he had better use for his badly reduced memory capacity.”

Chen Shui-bian is serving a lengthy prison sentence for alleged corruption following acontroversial no-jury trial. Chen has been imprisoned since shortly after leaving office in 2008 and was confined to a tiny punishment cell at Taipei Prison where Chen’s health and spirit were broken. All of Chen’s doctors, the government doctors and his volunteer medical team, support medical parole for Chen because of his deteriorating condition.

Ma Ying-jeou, Chen’s successor, refuses to consider medial parole for Chen, so the former president continues to suffer and waste away in his isolated cellblock while planning ways to take his own life.

Translation assistance by Jay Tu

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