Thu, Oct 23, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Officers' Chinese relatives fail to concern general

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

A total of 527 officers on active duty have next of kin from China living with them, a senior Ministry of National Defense official told lawmakers yesterday.

General Chen Pan-chih (陳邦治), head of the ministry's political warfare bureau, made the remarks during a meeting of the legislature's National Defense Committee.

At the meeting, Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Ho Min-hao (何敏豪) said he wanted to know how many Chinese relatives of officers have come to live in this country and how many of them have joined the military or been admitted to military academies.

Ho said he feared that national security may be affected by senior military officers having their Chinese relatives living with them.

Chen said none of the Chinese relatives have joined the military or been admitted to military schools.

By law, Chinese nationals cannot join volunteer military services until they have been naturalized citizens for at least 20 years.

Chen also said that all service personnel are prohibited from using military phone lines to contact any individual persons or units in China. He noted that the ministry has strict security regulations and any member of the military involved in disclosing military secrets is subject to harsh penalties.

Chen Pan-chih was one of three generals who came under fire from opposition lawmakers on the committee yesterday after being asked to report to the committee on how the military will maintain neutrality in the lead-up to the March presidential election.

The generals vowed that the military will stay out of politics and election-related activities.

Chen, General Hsueh Shih-ming (薛石民), head of the armed forces reserve command, and Lieutenant General Yu Lien-fa (余連發), commander of the military police, were all promoted by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). There have been allegations they used their relations to get their promotions.

People First Party Legislator Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) gave a tongue-lashing to the three.

"They might be good. But it is a pity that relations come before capabilities in the promotion of generals," Sun said.

In response, General Chen said, "President Chen must be thinking that I could contribute something to the military. Now I have chosen to stay a few more years in the military. If I do not perform well, my superior, Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明), could replace me immediately."

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Lee Tung-hao (李桐豪) and Lin Nan-sheng (林南生) joined in the attack on the generals, though they were less harsh.

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