Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) yesterday told lawmakers that he would do his best to improve discipline in the armed forces.
His comments at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee yesterday morning came in the wake of a series of military scandals, including a recent case in which several high-ranking officers were accused of securing promotions by offering bribes.
“It is very difficult to find sufficient evidence of bribery in such cases. But I assure you that I will continue to strive for better discipline as long as I am defense minister,” Chen said.
Chen said he would have tentative results from an investigation into the bribery allegations within three months.
He also said that he would consider resigning if he did not keep his word.
Former chief of general staff Huo Shou-yeh (霍守業) is alleged to have accepted bribes from the officers.
The last few days have seen several high-ranking officers come out in support of Huo, including Deputy Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) and Kinmen Commander Lu Hsiao-jung (陸小榮).
Lu was quoted in yesterday’s Chinese-language China Times as saying that, “if Huo is indicted in the bribery cases, I will immediately resign and leave the Army.”
Chao echoed Lu’s comments.
“Lu’s remarks only reflected his personal beliefs, not those of the MND,” Chen said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) said that Lu was challenging the minister’s authority.
“He [Lu] is not a spokesperson for the military, so he should not have spoken,” Lee said. “It is very inappropriate for him to make such comments as prosecutors have yet to finish their investigations into the allegations surrounding Huo.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that the DPP should shoulder some responsibility for the alleged bribery cases.
“I think DPP officials should be responsible for parts of it, too,” Tsai said. “But, it is not nice to ask DPP people to take full responsibility for it.”
Chen said no bribery would be tolerated in the military, no matter which party was in charge.
Meanwhile, Air Force Headquarters denied a report in yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily that said two pilots had endangered safety on a taxi way after landing two Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) aircraft in Tainan on Feb. 12.
The story said one of the pilots made a sharp turn on the taxiway almost causing a collision with the jet fighter behind him.
“It was a technical failure,” read a press release from the Air Force Headquarters.
The press release said the IDF had a flat tire on its left main landing gear and the incident was not related to pilot maneuvering, as reported in the newspaper.