The Ministry of National Defense's Political Warfare Department Director-General, Marine General Chen Pan-chih (陳邦治), is expected to take over as navy commander-in-chief on Feb. 1. Chen refused to comment yesterday, saying only that "I have not received any official orders about this."
Chen was questioned while he was having lunch with local media officials at noon yesterday. He would neither confirm nor deny speculation that President Chen Shui-bian (
Prior to the starting a trip to Palau and the Solomon Islands yesterday, the president met with Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑), Chen Pan-chih and a number of high-ranking military officers.
The president reportedly asked Chen Pan-chih to stay behind for further discussions.
Before the meeting, Deputy Chief of the General Staff Admiral Fei Hung-po (費鴻波) and navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Admiral Chang Wen-ping (張文平) were also popular candidates to become the navy commander-in-chief.
Chinese-language papers reported that Chen Shui-bian had planned to promote Chen Pan-chih to take over as the National Security Bureau's director-general.
However, Chen Pan-chih was not interested in the new post, so the president then began to consider assigning him to the navy's top office, the reports said. Chen Pan-chih was the president's top choice for promotion because he had been instrumental in supporting Lee regarding the NT$610.8 billion (US$19.15 billion) special weapons procurement.
If Chen Pan-chih becomes the new navy commander-in-chief, he will be the first Marine to take the post, and he will also be the only non-Mainlander service chief.
After Chen Pan-chih leaves his current post, Vice Minister of National Defense Lieutenant General Hu Chen-pu (
Chan Pan-chih is a Taichung native who was born on Nov. 4, 1942. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in Engineering, and joined the Marines after he graduated. On Aug. 6, 2002, he was promoted to the rank of three-star general.