Prison bars

In the latest move to increase services for mental health patients in Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this week promised to improve psychiatric care in the country in a personal letter to the widow of a murdered Taichung man.

Mental health support services are notoriously bad in Taiwan, as our columnist Yu Shen Cheng covered in The Taiwan Times here last week.

It is reported that President Tsai made the assurance in a handwritten letter to Mrs. Tsou Feng-chu on the back of an appeal directly to the presidential office building in Taipei last Thursday.

Mrs. Tsou is the widow of a dentist murdered in Taichung in May, 2017 by Lai Ya-sheng as part of a family dispute.

Her husband was killed in the dental clinic where he worked, but on April 29th, this year, the Taichung High Court returned a second verdict of life in prison, backing up a previous lower court judgement.

Under Article 19 of Taiwan’s Criminal Code, Lai’s history of schizophrenia was seen as grounds to take the death penalty off the table.

In her protest a week ago in Taipei, Mrs. Tsou handed in a card and flowers for the president.

This Tuesday she received a handwritten note from President Tsai assuring her that the current DPP government is looking at ways to improve mental health care in Taiwan.

Mrs. Tsou has asked prosecutors to appeal the case to the Supreme Court in a bid to have Lai executed.

A report by Taiwan’s Central News Agency quoted the president as writing in the letter “The areas we are looking at are largely in line with your suggestions. I hope you are able to overcome the pain of losing Dr. Wang, and to work with us to strengthen psychiatric services, improve our judiciary procedures and laws in this area, and better protect the general public.”


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