The Executive Yuan announced yesterday that Chief of the General Staff General Yen Ming (嚴明) had been appointed minister of national defense, replacing Andrew Yang (楊念祖), who resigned on Tuesday night.
Yen was the first military officer to be promoted to general after President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, the Executive Yuan said in a statement.
It said it believed Yen would be able to “gain the trust of the public” as the military’s judicial system is transferred to the civilian judiciary in the coming months.
In addition, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) announced that Deputy Defense Minister Kao Kuang-chi (高廣圻) would replace Yen as chief of the general staff.
Presiding over a meeting of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee in his role as party chairman, Ma said he met with Yen and Kao yesterday morning at the Presidential Office to inform them of the nominations, and instructed them to make maintaining morale their top priority.
Yen and Kao are to take over today, he said.
“Yen will join other Cabinet members in tomorrow’s [Thursday’s] Cabinet meeting, so that national defense affairs will be running smoothly and not be affected by Yang’s resignation,” Ma said.
Meanwhile, ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) denied a report that claimed Yang’s resignation was a result of a power struggle within the ministry and military.
Lo said a story in the Chinese-language China Times that claimed Yang’s resignation was a result of such a power struggle was a fabrication. He also said the newspaper story had seriously affected the military’s reputation.
The military had complained about the story, Lo said.
However, KMT lawmakers were divided on the idea of a power struggle forcing Yang’s hand.
KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said he did not think the plagiarism disclosure that led to Yang’s resignation was a result of infighting within the ministry.
“It had nothing to do with military infighting. There have been rumors [about the plagiarism] spreading online. Opposition lawmakers took advantage of the chance to go after the ministry for political gain,” Lin said.
The opposition wants to kick the “ministry’s ass” as much as it can, Lin said.
The lawmaker said it was a pity that Yang decided to resign over the plagiarism because he could have become a good civilian defense minister, given his strong academic background, years of experience, fluency in English and close relationships with top US officials.
However, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said whoever provided Next Magazine with information about the plagiarism “had dubious motives.”
“There has been growing dissatisfaction with Yang among military officers since he was appointed as a civilian to the position they have long desired,” Lo Shu-lei said.
She said military officers who were passed over when former defense minister Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) resigned had launched a “counterattack” against Yang.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih and Rich Chang