Sun, Apr 12, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Defense minister issues apology

‘DISTRAUGHT’Chen Chao-min said that restoring military discipline and fighting corruption were his top priorities. He’s been given three months to make it happen

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) apologized yesterday for a recent string of scandals involving military personnel, pledging to come up with a concrete plan to fight corruption in the military and restore discipline.

Chen said he felt “distraught” over an array of scandals in the military and the performance of the armed forces.

“I offer my most sincere apology to the public on behalf of the military,” he said while accompanying President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at an exhibition at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall commemorating the 100th anniversary of late president Chiang Ching-kuo’s (蔣經國) birth yesterday.

Chen said that restoring military discipline and fighting corruption have topped his agenda since he took office.

He said he was determined to attain his goals and urged the public to give him time.

Asked how much time he needed, Chen said while the president had given them three months, the ministry had already begun to work on the matter and hopefully the efforts would produce concrete results.

Chen was referring to a directive issued by Ma on Wednesday ordering a judicial and government review of “major corruption cases” and propose measures to fight corruption within three months.

Chen’s remarks yesterday were made in response to media inquiries about the killing of a Vietnamese woman by two soldiers in Kaohsiung on Friday.

Twenty-year-olds Tseng Shao-tsu (曾紹慈) and Liang Po-yu (梁伯羽), who were performing their military service in the navy, broke into the apartment of a 34-year-old woman surnamed Li (黎) early on Friday morning.

Community surveillance cameras showed Li running outside seeking help. Li tried to flee, but the men stabbed her a dozen times in the back and right leg before killing her by slashing her throat. They strangled another Vietnamese woman, aged 22, who was sleeping on the second floor. She survived by faking death. Awakened by Li’s screams, neighbors called police, who arrested Tseng and Liang at the scene.

Another crisis involving military personnel was the indictment of a retired lieutenant-general and 11 businessmen on Monday on charges of bribery and blackmail.

Prosecutors sought 22 years in jail for former lieutenant­-­general Yuan Hsiao-lung (袁肖龍) on charges of accepting bribes, blackmail and leaking secrets. Yuan is accused of trying to obtain a promotion by bribing his superiors through middleman Lin Chih-chung (林治崇), who headed the group of businessmen who were indicted on suspicion that they won military contracts after bribing military officers with cash and prostitutes.

In related news, Control Yuan member Yu Teng-fang (余騰芳) said yesterday he suspected high-profile officials other than Huo Shou-yeh (霍守業), a strategic adviser to the Presidential Office, were involved in the case concerning Lin.

Huo, the former chief of general staff, was alleged by Lin to have been his connection in the Ministry of Defense. The prosecutors’ indictment said Lin was acquainted with Huo.

Yu yesterday said he could subpoena Huo and former Democratic Progressive Party officials who served at the presidential office to answer questions after reviewing documents he requested from prosecutors and the ministry.

Denying any wrongdoing, Huo on Thursday visited the Presidential Office and asked Presidential Office Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) to relay a letter from him to Ma stating his non-involvement in Lin’s case.

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