Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office defends decision to give routine awards

SECURITY DETAIL The battle over the election-eve assassination attempt continued with criticism over rewards given to two former security chiefs

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Reacting to the opposition alliance's attacks, the Presidential Office yesterday defended its decision to award former chief aide-de-camp Lieutenant-General Chen Tsa-fu (陳再福) and deputy chief General Shen Tsai-tien (沈再添), who were removed from their posts last month for their response to the election-eve assassination attempt.

"The implementation of rewards and punishment must abide by concrete standards. Chen and Shen had been punished for their handling of the assassination attempt, and now the government should not forget to honor their contributions during their career as hard-working civil servants," deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said yesterday.

Sources from the military revealed yesterday that although Chen and Shen had been removed from their posts and had been given demerits in April, the Presidential Office decided to decorate Chen Tsa-fu and to give a commendation to Shen Tsai-tien on May 19, the eve of the President's inauguration ceremony.

The opposition alliance immediately criticized the measure, saying it would only fan wild rumors that the assassination attempt was actually staged by President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) security detail.

"The government first punished them and then rewarded them, which means that Chen and Shen's careers in the military will not be affected in the future," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus deputy whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) said.

"The punishment was just a trick to cheat the public and the rewards were actually to thank Chen and Shen for their cooperation in executing the staged shooting," Huang said.

People First Party legislative whip Hsieh Chang-chieh (謝章捷) said that the awards to Chen and Shen had been revealed by military sources, indicating that military officials were dissatisfied.

"The medal awarded to Chen is usually given to those who have made extraordinary contributions. What concrete achievements has Chen contributed to the country?" said Hsieh.

The Presidential Office held a press conference to counter the allegations, saying that the decision to award Chen and Shen was passed by the Presidential Office's merit committee on April 23 and endorsed by the Ministry of National Defense on May 6.

"Due to his failure in inappropriately handling the assassination attempt, Chen Tsa-fu was awarded only the army decoration instead of the MND decoration, which chief aides-de-camp have previously been awarded after leaving their post," Cho said the press conference.

"And the commendation given to Chen was to honor his performance last year," said Cho.

Cho said that Chen and Shen were the hardest-working aide-de-camp in the country's history and the government should honor their efforts to set an example for encouraging other public servants.

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) also told opposition lawmakers that the punishment and the awards are two seperate issues.

Asked by reporters to comment on the critcism made by opposition lawmakers, Chen Tsa-fu, who now is working at Army Headquarters, told reporters that he felt pity for those politicians, who spent all day fighting.

"What I have to do right now is simply cooperate with the Military Court and the Control Yuan's investigation regarding the assassination attempt. As to the war of words among those lawmakers, I have nothing to say," Chen said.

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