Tue, May 20, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Lee says Hau made ship choice

CONTRADICTORY VIEWS The former premier has said in the past that as chief of general staff he did not have a prominent role in arms procurement decisions

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former premier Hau Pei-tsun, center, arrives at Taipei District Court yesterday to be questioned over the Lafayette frigate procurement corruption case.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday that former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) made the decision to buy Lafayette-class frigates for the navy.

Lee made the remark before he entered the Taipei District Court yesterday. Both Lee and Hau were summoned as witnesses yesterday to testify in a hearing on the French-made frigate purchase scandal.

The hearing took place behind closed-doors as it involved issues concerning national security.

Hau, who attended in the morning, did not comment after leaving court.

Lee’s testimony took place in the afternoon.

“The top official did not shoulder responsibility for the arms purchase scandal, but shed responsibility to five generals” Lee said as he left court at 4:30 pm.

He did not specify the identity of the “top official” he was refering to.

Lee has said he was not involved in the decision-making process for the Lafayette-class frigate purchase and that he did not have the power to interfere with military affairs.

He has also previously said that he was not informed of the navy’s decision to change its original plan to buy South Korean-made frigates to purchase the French-made frigates instead.

Lee said then-chief of the navy Yeh Chang-tung (葉昌桐) never reported the proposal for procuring the Lafayette frigates to Lee, but when Lee asked the navy to report on the progress of buying South Korean-made frigates in August 1991, Yeh turned in a document saying the navy had decided to purchase the Lafayette frigates instead.

However, Hau has claimed that Lee had made the final decision on the arms bill.

Hau has previously told prosecutors that as the then-chief of the general staff, he did not have a prominent role in arms procurement.

Hau served as chief of general staff from 1981 to 1989. In December 1989, Hau was appointed minister of national defense, and in May 1990 he became premier.

He was long considered the most powerful and influential figure in the military.

The government’s original plan in 1988 was to purchase South Korean-made frigates, but in 1990 it decided to purchase the French-made frigates instead.

A special prosecutors panel is attempting to determine why the government changed its mind.

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