Thu, Jul 06, 2000 - Page 8 News List

National security a paramount concern

By Yang Yung-nane 楊永年

According to news reports, not long after Pan Hsi-hsien (潘希賢) retired as personnel director at the National Security Bureau (NSB), he travelled to China to assume a job at a Taiwanese electronics company in Dong-guan, Guangdong. Whether or not there is any truth behind the numerous rumors that are circulating, the matter has seriously damaged Taiwan's image and its vital interests.

First, how can one just "retire" from the position of NSB personnel director -- a position of such importance -- and then take a job in China? Is it because there aren't any laws and regulations governing this, or are there simply no teeth to enforce these laws?

It seems that there are regulations barring persons retiring from important public positions from going into civilian jobs (at least this is the case for some public servants). In also appears that these retirees cannot work in regions where they might divulge secrets to which they had access. (If there aren't any such rules, some should be laid down immediately).

If the law already regulates those retiring from government positions and yet this kind of incident still occurs, isn't it manifestly evident that a flaw exists in the way the law is applied?

Furthermore, doesn't this incident show that the application of the law has failed at all levels, from the NSB to the Bureau of Entry and Exit? If this is indeed the reason behind the problems, these agencies must rigorously review what happened, to discover where the mistake occurred. If the problem is found to be a systemic one, then these agencies must immediately set about rectifying it.

Second, how could news so closely related to national security be broken by the media, allowing everyone (especially the Chinese government) to hear about it? It is, to say the least, reasonable to presume that Chinese officials would be all too keen to get hold of someone of Pan's standing and that the leaking of such information would make him a specific target in China. There would also -- almost inevitably -- be damage to our national interests that would be difficult to repair.

According to news reports, the leak may have been due to in-fighting in the NSB. If this is true, how could someone do something like this for personal gain? It is simply unthinkable.

What's done is done. Neither identifying nor punishing those responsible is likely to compensate for the damage done. But it should be decided where the focus in solving the problem should now be.

I believe any strategy for resolving the issue should place our national interests at its very core. Government ministries in particular (not to mention the Presidential Office, NSB and Legislative Yuan) should be careful to preserve national interests in their handling of problems arising from this incident, in order to prevent this problem -- this crisis -- from causing further harm.

Yang Yung-nane is a professor in the department of administrative management, Central Police University.

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