Wed, Mar 30, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Military denies politics involved in Kinmen shift

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Minister of National Defense Huo Shou-yeh (霍守業) yesterday denied allegations that politics had anything to do with the recent recall of the commander of the Kinmen Defense Headquarters, Lieutenant General Cha Tai-chuan (查台傳).

Huo said Cha was replaced -- just 10 months into the job -- because high-ranking officers wanted to give him time to have his health problems checked.

"Lieutenant General Cha has passed out many times. Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) is concerned about this, so he asked Cha to come back to Taiwan, undergo a detailed health check and get his health problems resolved," Huo said yesterday morning during a legislative meeting.

His comments came in response to questioning by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) as to whether politics was involved in the transfer.

Huo said the position of Kinmen Defense Headquarters commander is one of the military's most important positions and whoever is in that post cannot be allowed to be sick.

"If the results [of Cha's check-up] confirm that he is OK, we will re-assign him to another position," Huo said.

According to the Army General Command Headquarters, it received a request from the ministry last Friday to escort Cha back to Taiwan and have Vice Commander-in-Chief Chia Fu-yi (賈輔義) take temporary responsibility for the Kinmen command, which was one of his previous postings.

Cha has a reputation for being "tough," "strict on himself" and "always trying hard to accomplish all kinds of missions." But his term as Kinmen commander has been marred by several incidents which took place when he was on leave back in Taiwan, including a soldier's suicide and fires.

Cha's promotion to the post by former minister of national defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) was labeled by some as an example of "Tang's favoritism."

In the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) era, Chiang only assigned his own favorite generals to the Kinmen job, which used to be a slot for a three-star general.

Today the position is open to two-star generals who have been commanders of the army's sixth, eighth or tenth divisions.

Only the defense minister and the chief of the general staff are authorized to promote, demote or transfer the Kinmen commander. The Army General Command Headquarters handles all other personnel matters.

The Kinmen commander also must ask for the president's approval whenever he wants to leave Kinmen.

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