Taipei, Former President Chen Shui-bian on Thursday attended a book-signing session for his memoir at a fundraising banquet hosted by the Ketagalan Foundation in Taipei, but he declined to shake hands or pose for photographs with his supporters throughout the entire course of the event.
Accompanied by his son Chen Chih-chung Chen arrived using a cane at Denwell Hotel, the venue in the city's Dazhi District, and headed straight to a guest room reserved for VIPs before the start of the day's event.
The former president, who suffers from neurological problems, has been on medical parole since Jan. 5, 2015. According to parole regulations, Chen has to apply to the Taichung Prison if he wants to leave his residence to attend outside activities.
Chen submitted an application recently to attend the Ketagalan Foundation banquet, and approval was granted by the prison. However, Chen must abide by the parole agreements signed on Jan. 5, 2015 and the "Rules of Control for Inmates for Receiving Out-of-Prison Medical Treatment on Bail."
Under those terms, Chen is not allowed to take to the stage, to make speeches, discuss politics, or give interviews.
At the hotel venue, Chen's son told reporters that the activity was held under the consensus that his father would not shake hands nor pose for photographs with his supporters.
He added that the event was about exchanging greetings with his father's old friends, and that the day's activity had nothing to do with politics.
Chen Shun-sheng the lead physician on Chen's personal medical team, said the signing activity would benefit the former president's health, such as his hand-tremor.
Just by observing his hands, book signing kept him relaxed, the physician said, noting that altogether the former president managed to sign 350 books in the 40-minute event.
His memoir "Persistence: An Oral Memoir by Chen Shui-bian" was launched on May 5. It contains several stories of his time as mayor of Taipei City from 1994-1998, an experience Chen said made him realize that the mayor is a public servant who works for the residents of the city.
Chen's presence, however, was also marred by protest from members of several pro-unification groups outside the hotel, who chanted for the former president to be "locked up" behind bars, and that he had no shame and was a "disgrace" to Taiwan.
His staunch supporters, meanwhile, also stood guard outside the venue, shouting back at protesters with slogans that said "Chen is innocent."
Some 80 police officers arrived to maintain order and to prevent a clash between the two sides. The crowds later dispersed at around 6 p.m.
After the book-signing event, Chen and his son later joined the fundraising banquet hosted by the foundation. In his spirited mood, the former president sang three songs alongside other attendees. Chen, who served two terms as Taiwan's president from 2000 to 2008, was embroiled in corruption scandals that led to several indictments and a 20-year prison sentence.
He was in prison until January 2015, when he was released on medical parole due to declining health.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel