Thu, Jun 20, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers urge deputy defense minister to aim for his boss' job

PEER PRESSSURE Kang Ning-hsiang said that he wouldn't consider taking the defense minister's post because he respects Tang Yao-ming's ability

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers urged newly-appointed deputy defense minister for administrative affairs Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥) yesterday to seek the minister of defense post as he attended a meeting of the defense committee of the legislature.

Kang, a long-term Control Yuan member, who took the deputy defense minister post on May 31, is expected to stay at his post for a short time because he is rumored to be President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) top choice as the next minister of defense.

If Kang becomes the defense minister, he will be the first civilian to take the position since the implementations of the new military command structure on March 1.

The new military command structure places the defense minister above the chief of the general staff as the leader of the military.

In the past, the defense minister was only a figurehead without any authority over the chief of the general staff.

Three lawmakers from opposition parties yesterday urged Kang to seek the post, given that he is already the favored one for the job. They made the suggestion at a meeting of the defense committee of the legislature.

The legislators, Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) and Chao Liang-yen (趙良燕) of the PFP and Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) of the TSU, share the belief that Kang will replace Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明).

In response, Kang said he would not consider such a move because Tang is a good minister, who deserves his full support. "I would not consider taking Tang's place. President Chen trusts Tang. I have tremendous respect for Tang, as well," Kang said.

"Over the past 18 days at the Ministry of National Defense (MND), I am strongly impressed with several things. One thing is that Tang takes relations with lawmakers as one of his primary concerns," Kang said.

"Tang also insists that any future arms purchase by the MND has to be approved by the legislature first before it can be executed," he said.

As the deputy defense minister for administrative affairs, Kang is the second most important man in the military next to the defense minister.

He is to act as a proxy for Tang should Tang be on a foreign trip or absent from office for some time.

One of the biggest powers that Kang has been given is overseeing the promotion of high-ranking military officials, including generals.

Kang is now in charge of a MND committee responsible for selecting and approving military officials to be promoted from colonel/captain to major general/rear admiral. With such power in hand, Kang is expected to build his influence in the military.

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