Wife's first public outing in a year

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 January, 2008, 12:00am

Taiwanese first lady Wu Shu-chen made her first public appearance in more than a year yesterday when she went to the polls.

She had not been seen in public for 392 days, dating to when she attended her corruption trial on charges of embezzling NT$14 million (HK$3.37 million) in special state funds.

President Chen Shui-bian accompanied his wife to the polling station near their residence in Taipei.

Dressed in blue, the wheelchair-bound Wu was pushed to the ballot boxes by her nurse. Without makeup, she looked pale but stayed in relatively high spirits. Mr Chen said his wife had insisted on going to the polls despite her low blood pressure. The first lady did not comment.

The Kuomintang opposition camp criticised her for being able to show up at the polling centre, but being unable to appear in court.

Wu, paralysed from the waist down, has kept taking leaves of absence since her first court appearance, during which she passed out after 90 minutes.

She was indicted in late 2006 for allegedly using receipts provided by others to make spending claims from secret state funds. Prosecutors said they had enough evidence to charge Mr Chen, but delayed the action due to his presidential immunity. Both have denied any wrongdoing.