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Sat, Jan 26, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Candidates say they will take vice-minister posts

UNOFFICIAL RINGERS Both a Control Yuan member and the commander-in-chief of the air force informed journalists that they have accepted defense positions

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Control Yuan member Kang Ning-hsiang looks at his notes in this 2000 file photo. He confirmed that he will take the post of vice minister at the Ministry of National Defense, taking charge of all military matters except arms purchases.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Amid media speculation that they were to be appointed vice ministers of defense, a Control Yuan member and the commander-in-chief of the air force yesterday told journalists that they had indeed been named to take the posts.

The appointments will not be officially announced until Feb 1.

Control Yuan member Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥) confirmed that he will take the post of vice minister at the Ministry of National Defense (MND), taking charge of all military matters except arms purchases.

The second vice minister post, which will not formally exist until March when the Defense Organization Law (國防部組織法) comes into effect, is to be taken by current air force chief Chen Chao-ming (陳肇敏), whose primary responsibility will be the purchase of arms.

The new law separates responsibility for arms purchases from other military affairs to avoid possible abuses.

Asked by journalists whether he was to take the first of the two posts, Kang said: "The president has been generous enough to promise to allow me to finish the cases I am investigating in the Control Yuan before I take up my new job."

A number of important cases in the Control Yuan are under investigation by teams led by Kang, including the Lafayette frigate scandal.

The fact that Kang does not have a military background has prompted media speculation that his appointment heralds the ultimate realization of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) promise to place a civilian at the head of the military as soon as possible.

It is speculated that, once Kang has completed a stint as a vice minister of defense, he will be a strong candidate for promotion as minister of defense.

Kang, who graduated from National Chung Hsing University with a bachelor's degree in public administration in 1961, is an experienced public servant.

He has been a Taipei City Council member for three years, a lawmaker for 19 years, a National Assembly member for three years and a Control Yuan member for nine years.

Kang's positions in the Legislative Yuan and Control Yuan gave him plenty of experience on military matters and brought him into close contact with military personnel.

Media speculation has suggested that he may also owe his appointment to the fact that he enjoys good relations with the US. He has made several trips to the US and developed relations with influential figures, including congressmen.

General Chen, whose term as commander-in-chief of the air force will end at the end of February, is a long-standing, experienced and highly qualified air force officer.

Chen is also widely known to have good relations with the US, a factor which some in the media have speculated made him a more likely choice for minister of defense than the eventual appointee, General Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明), because the US was thought to object to the latter's personal style and his leadership of the armed forces.

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