Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lin Chong-pin says he will soon leave Ministry of Defense


Deputy Minister of National Defense Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) yesterday said he would soon leave the defense ministry, a place he described as unsuited to a "passing traveler" like him.

Speaking at an awards function held at the ministry, Lin said the ceremony would be his last opportunity to speak to staff as one of their superiors.

Lin was presiding over the recognition of outstanding staffofficers from across the military on behalf of Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明), who is likely to remain on sick leave until the Cabinet steps down on May 20.

His announcement comes just as speculation mounts on Tang's replacement.

Tang asked to resign after the presidential election because of his age and difficulties with his eyes. Tang agreed to stay, however, after Premier Yu Shyi-kun urged him to allow the government enough time to find a suitable replacement.

Speculation over who would replace Tang is continuing. Lin was thought by some to be a contender, based on the assumption that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) might choose a civilian as the next minister.

But Lin's remarks yesterday suggested he was not on Chen's shortlist for the post.

A military officer at the ceremony was quoted as saying that Lin had spoken off-the-cuff and that it came as a surprise to the staff who prepared the text.

"Lin called himself a `passing traveler' within the ministry. He said the awards ceremony was the last time he would speak in the capacity of a ministry head," the officer said.

Appointed to the deputy minister's post in late 2002, Lin was expected by many observers to become the first civilian defense minister. Lin had previously earned considerable respect both in Taiwan and abroad for his research on the Chinese military. He had been vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council and a member of the National Security Council. Lin also teaches at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung.

Against expectations, Lin kept a low profile after becoming deputy defense minister for administrative affairs.

He has been criticized by opposition lawmakers for failing to keep abreast of developments in Taiwan's military.

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