CASTRIES, St Lucia — Speaking ahead of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou’s state visit to Saint Lucia on Thursday, the leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, said that, while President Ma’s visit there represents an important milestone in the growing relationship between Saint Lucia and Taiwan, Saint Lucians should not be side tracked by his government’s current and historical abuse of human rights in Taiwan.
Prudent joins a growing list of politicians and human rights activists around the world advocating for the medical parole of ailing former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-Bian. He said that Ma’s visit would be an opportune moment for the people of Saint Lucia to educate the Taiwanese president on our system of democracy and our Judeo-Christian values, which do not condone brutality and include the principle of forgiveness.
Prudent said, “While the Taiwanese government continues to pump millions of dollars into our country, Saint Lucians should not sell their values for big-dollar diplomacy, which, if there is a settlement of the China/Taiwan conflict, may come to an abrupt end. As a sovereign nation, our reliance on foreign aid should not prevent us from voicing our deep concerns about practices that we would not tolerate in our homeland.”
The LPM leader also noted, “My organization remains supportive of the relationship between Saint Lucia and Taiwan and has gone further than most political organizations in the country to openly support the aspirations of millions of Taiwanese who hope to enjoy the same rights and international recognition that was eventually afforded the people of Saint Lucia in 1979; however, it cannot in good conscious continue to support a nation that does not value the human rights of its citizens.”
Prudent added that Saint Lucia’s diplomatic relationship with the government and people of Taiwan should be upgraded to one of a partnership from one of subservience.
“We should be able to speak to our partner openly about its human rights abuse and to impress upon it the need for reform in the country,” he said.
Pointing also to Ma’s planned address of Saint Lucia’s parliament (as reported by news organizations in Taiwan), Prudent said, “Nelson Mandela was given the honour of addressing our parliament, and the decision to allow President Ma’s address is not only a betrayal of the ideals of forgiveness, which Mandela stood for, but a lowering of our values as a nation.”
He said, “I call upon Saint Lucians from all works of life who profess to be Christians and who value the principle of forgiveness and the upholding of human rights and democracy to turn out in large numbers to impress upon President Ma that the time has come to offer medical parole to the ailing former Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-Bian.”