President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that there were several civilian candidates qualified to fill the post of minister of national defense.
Chen's remarks came in the wake of comments made by Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) on Tuesday.
When asked to comment on Chen's idea that civilian control of the defense ministry could be realized during the final year of his term as president, Lee said he hoped the goal could be achieved as soon as possible and that he "could leave any time" if the president had found a suitable replacement.
Chen yesterday claimed that although he was reluctant to talk about his contribution to the country, he had nurtured a lot of talent over the past several years.
For example, there are "more than half a dozen" Democratic Progressive Party members who are interested in running for the presidency in 2008, while there are "a truckload of" civilian candidates who are qualified to be defense minister, Chen said.
The president made the remarks while presiding over a changeover ceremony during which Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) was sworn in as the new Presidential Office secretary-general, replacing Mark Chen (陳唐山), who took over Chiou's previous post of National Security Council secretary-general.
Chen recently appointed Shi Hwei-yow (許惠祐), deputy director of the National Security Bureau, as the agency's first civilian head.