Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) has apologized to Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and other members of the Cabinet for his ministry dragging other agencies into a snowballing drug abuse scandal.
The Ministry of National Defense made a formal report to the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Thursday about the discovery of suspected amphetamines and drug paraphernalia at the Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taichung on Feb. 20 and drug screening that found eight base personnel testing positive for Category 1 drugs.
The report did not say much about the investigation into the case, but stressed the military’s drug abuse prevention efforts, highlighting the relatively low percentage of military personnel with addiction problems (0.08 percent) compared with groups of citizens regulated by other Cabinet agencies such as the Ministry of Education, which has said there is a 4.66 percent suspected drug abuse rate among students.
Photo: Lee Chung-hui, Taipei Times
The defense ministry’s disclosure of inter-ministerial records on drug test results triggered public criticism of the Cabinet for failing to enforce drug policies.
Feng apologized to Lin and his fellow ministers for the disclosure in a text message, including Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) and Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三).
“The indiscreet citation of the National Audit Office’s [sic; it was the Ministry of Justice’s] drug test records during the legislative report today caused criticism from legislators and the media. The defense ministry apologizes [for the indiscretion],” Feng wrote in the text message.
Photo: Lee Chung-hui, Taipei Times
The citation was an “unintentional mistake” and the ministry was sorry for causing a negative perception of the Cabinet, ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said.
In related news, base director Major General Wang Te-yang (王德揚) yesterday said that he has asked his superiors to take disciplinary measures against him for the effect the case has had on the armed forces’ reputation.
“The incident has caused public concern and damaged the reputation of the armed forces. As the base commander, I have examined my [mistakes] thoroughly and feel responsible for the incident. I promise that I will ask the Air Force Command Headquarters to take disciplinary action against me,” Wang yesterday told a news conference at the base.
There are 2,330 enlisted personnel and officers assigned to the base, and all but 225 have undergone drug screening, Wang said, adding that those who have not are either on leave or undergoing off-base training, but their testing would be completed by Wednesday, except for one officer who is in South America.
Asked why the 225 were not immediately recalled to the base to have a drug test, as any possible drugs in their bodies might have already metabolized over the past two weeks, Wang said he did not order them back because “troops have human rights too.”
The base has not withheld any information from the public, he said.
The ministry has said that the case has been transferred to prosecutors, so it could not reveal details of the ongoing investigation.
Sergeant Major Huang Yen-yuan (黃彥淵), who was rumored to have placed packages of drugs on the base to frame Huang because of a dispute with him, has denied the allegations.
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