Dr. Chen Chien-jen, 68, is a distinguished Taiwanese epidemiologist and former health minister, who in 2003 managed the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis that hit the island with almost no help from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Since May 2016, Dr. Chen has been acting as Taiwan’s Vice President, but opted against serving a second term under President Tsai Ying-wen, who herself will be sworn in for another four years on May 20th.
Dr. Chen on May 13th made public that he has instead accepted an invitation by Academia Sinica, the country’s most preeminent academic institution, to rejoin their Genomics Research Center as distinguished research fellow. He will be the first former Vice President to hold this kind of position after leaving office.
A few days ago, Dr. Chen had communicated President Tsai his strong wish to dedicate himself again to research and teaching, especially in the field of public health and epidemics. She took the chance to thank him for his strong commitment.
In the near future, besides still being invited to all big national events, Dr. Chen won’t be entitled anymore to a monthly allowance of 180,000 New Taiwan dollars (about 6,000 US dollars), personal assistants, drivers, office space, general expenses, paid medical care, security, etc.
Although according to the Constitution Dr. Chen will no longer receive preferential treatment, considering that he has had access to strictly confidential information, by presidential order the soon to be Vice President will remain under special protection.
In any case, for one year after his resignation, Dr. Chen continues to enjoy the option to avail himself of the abovementioned privileges.
Dr. Chen is a devout Catholic, who in September 2016 attended the canonization of Mother Teresa by Pope Francis in Rome.