Thu, Oct 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen's office denies punishment reports

SECURITY LAPSES Two Chinese-language dailies claimed that heads would roll in security agencies because of the protests that marred the national day ceremony

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed allegations that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was angry over the way national security agencies handled the disturbances during the official Double Ten National Day ceremony and that high-ranking officials would be punished.

Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said Chen was not angry or displeased. He also denied reports that the National Security Bureau (NSB) had held a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to review the "Ching-an Project" (慶安專案) -- the agency's codename for the plan to ensure Chen's safety at the ceremony.

There was no such a meeting, Lee said, and therefore the Presidential Office had not sent anyone to attend such a gathering.

He noted, however, that it was common practice for the security agencies to conduct a review and evaluation of their performance after an event like Double Ten National Day.

But he stressed that the president had not asked for such a review and no security officials had told Chen that they were prepared to take responsibility for their poor performance.

Lee's remarks came in response to an article in yesterday's Chinese-language United Daily News headlined: "Bian [Chen's nickname] furious, National Security Bureau officials to face punishment."

The report claimed officials facing punishment might be as high-ranking as NSB Director Hsueh Shih-min (薛石民). It said the bureau held a meeting immediately after Tuesday's ceremony to review the handling of Chen's security.

The report claimed that a representative from the Presidential Office attending the meeting was "livid" at the performance of security personnel and suspected that the bureau had deliberately allowed some anti-Chen supporters to bring banners inside the cordoned-off area for the official ceremony to cause disturbances.

The Chinese-language China Times published similar reports, saying that the bureau held a meeting on Tuesday night. It said Lieutenant General Hsu Li-mong (許立孟) of the bureau's special duty commander center and Major General Ho Peng-sheng (何澎生), deputy commander of the Military Police Command, were likely to be reprimanded.

The China Times claimed that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), in charge of organizing Tuesday's celebrations, had asked Hsueh if he was "threatening the legislative speaker" after Hsueh suggested that the Double Ten National Day celebrations should be canceled.

Wang, however, denied the report yesterday.

He said if such a remark had been made to Hsueh, "it was not said by me, but by someone else."

Hsueh had a private meeting with Wang last Thursday, after which both Wang and a NSB official confirmed that Hsueh had strongly recommended the official celebrations be called off.

The report said that Hsueh's suggestion reflected Chen's stance and was aimed at pressuring Wang to call off the official festivities.

"I didn't feel that I was threatened during the meeting, but it's true that there was someone else coming forward to file complaint for me," Wang said, without giving any more details.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) yesterday demanded that Hsueh resign to take responsibility for the disruptions that marred Tuesday's celebrations.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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