Tue, Apr 03, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Vice admiral forced to step down over `sexual misconduct'

IT'S JUST A KISS Chao Lien-ti said he asked female officers to kiss him out of courtesy and did not think this constituted sexual harrassment

By Rich Chang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Vice Minister of National Defense Chu Kai-sheng (朱凱生) confirmed yesterday that Vice Admiral Chao Lien-ti (趙連弟) has stepped down.

He said the ministry has been investigating allegations of sexual harassment and an abuse of public vehicles. The probe is ongoing, he added.

He said the ministry had removed Chao from his position because high-ranking military officers were expected to abide by the highest ethical standards.

Chao reportedly said that he asked female military officers to kiss him on the cheek out of courtesy and did not believe this constituted sexual harassment.

Chao said his wife had also attended the dinner party where the incident allegedly took place, which would have made it impossible for him to harass a female officer, as it would have had to occur in front of his wife.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsueh Ling (薛凌) yesterday requested that Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) take measures to protect female officers from sexual harassment by higher-ranking officers.

Hsueh said during a press conference that several female officers at the ministry's Telecommunications Development Office had written her a petition, alleging they had been sexually harassed by Chao.

Hsueh said that on three occasions Chao, who was the office's director, allegedly forced several female officers in his division to kiss him on the cheek. This allegedly occurred in December last year and in February.

These, however, were not isolated cases, Hsueh said, adding that information she had received showed that female officers are often subjected to verbal abuse and physical harassment from male counterparts and superiors.

"Lee should try harder to ensure gender equality in the military," she said. "Female officers only want to defend their professional rights."

She said that if the minister failed to deal with the harassment problem, she would make public a list of male military personnel who have repeatedly sexually harassed female officers.

Hsueh also lashed out at Chu for suggesting that whether or not Chao's case constituted sexual harassment depended on how the media interpreted it.

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