Thu, Apr 09, 2009 - Page 3 News List

MND rebuts ‘Next’ report, affirms airborne contact

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday denied allegations that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was unable to remain in contact with the government whenever he boards an airplane.

The ministry’s rebuttal came after the Chinese-language Next Magazine reported in its latest edition that Ma lost communication whenever he flies in the Air Force’s Fokker-50 plane.

The story also said that Ma preferred to take the Fokker over his presidential Boeing 737 as it was cheaper.

“I am afraid that what the magazine said may not be accurate,” MND spokesman Major General Yu Sy-tue (虞思祖) said.

Yu said that as portable ­satellite phones are always available on the aircraft when Ma is onboard, losing contact would never occur. The phones were purchased by the Air Force many years ago, and were not purchased recently to fit in with Ma’s flight schedules and plans, as the magazine said.

The story also caught the attention of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus.

Showing figures to reporters, DPP Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said he did not understand Ma’s logic.

He said it costs approximately NT$46,000 for the presidential Boeing 737 to fly from Taipei to ­Kaohsiung while it costs NT$44,000 for two Fokker-50s to fly the same route. Ma and his staff need two Fokkers because of the Fokker’s size limitations, he said.

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