The Control Yuan has blasted the cost of a plan by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to relocate the operating base for its fleet of 12 Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. The proposed change would bring about estimated expenses totaling NT$9.8 billion (US$326 million).
The US government in 2007 approved the sale of the 12 P-3Cs, with T-56 turboprop engines and related equipment and services, for US$1.96 billion.
Taiwan received the first P-3C aircraft in September last year. Three more arrived later last year. The air force said that five more P-3Cs are to be delivered to Taiwan this year, followed by another three next year, when the fleet would be commissioned.
The ministry said earlier this month that it was transferring the base of operations for the P-3Cs from Taoyuan County to Pingtung County, on account of the development of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project.
Intended to create an industrial, commercial and residential development alongside a free economic pilot zone near Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, as well as expand the airport itself, the Aerotropolis project is estimated to require the seizure of more than 3,000 hectares of private land, affecting more than 12,000 households.
In a report issued last week, the Control Yuan quoted experts as saying that China poses the greatest national security threat to Taiwan and that basing the P-3C Orions in Taoyuan is the best choice, both to counter China’s East Sea Fleet and to better protect Taiwan’s exclusive economic zone.
The location was chosen more than a decade ago, but is being abandoned for political reasons — due to election concerns and “the lack of general nation development by the politicians,” the report quoted experts as saying.
The relocation of the base would be better internationally — as it would help the US observe the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines — but was next to worthless in terms of domestic national security to the north of the nation, the report quoted the experts as saying.
The relocation would also necessitate multiple revisions to building plans and create conflicts due to operational requirements, the report said.
In the plan, national resources are poorly allocated and also caused the US, the nation’s staunchest military ally, to question the domestic levels of determination in terms of national defense, the report said.
In response, the ministry said the decision was made based on the ministry’s principle of sharing resources across all armed forces, due to limited manpower and resources, adding that it also coincided with national economic construction policies.
Meanwhile, the report said that rumors that the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project was sparking real-estate speculation were rampant, damaging civilian confidence in the government.
The local government should ensure the integrity of construction policies, efficient promotion and communication between the government and civilians and the transparency of the project, the report said.
In response, the Taoyuan County Government said it would work on making land seizures more transparent and would step up efforts to relocate displaced residents.
The county added that it would work with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to minimize land speculation, as well as follow national industrial development policies as much as possible.
The report was presented by Control Yuan members Chou Yang-shan (周揚山), Ko Yung-kuang (葛永光) and Ma Hsiu-ju (馬秀如).
During their investigation, the three met with all parties involved in the relocation decision, they said. Among the stakeholders, meetings with academics and experts began on April 15.
Additional talks were held with Republic of China (ROC) Air Force General Chen Tien-sheng (陳添勝) and ROC Navy Vice Admiral Pu Tze-chun (蒲澤春) on May 6, Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Hsia (夏立言) on June 5 and Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Chien-yu (陳建宇), Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Shen Chi (沈啟) and former Taoyuan Aerotropolis general manager Lee Wei-feng (李維峰) on June 23.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang