The Ministry of National Defense (MND) is defending its decision to bestow a military decoration on a former director of the Armaments Bureau despite an explosion at a munitions depot that killed six people and severely injured two more.
On Oct. 28 last year, the bureau’s 204th Munitions Works in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山) was rocked by an explosion triggered by a flash grenade.
The media reported that then-bureau director Liu Fu-long (劉復龍), who was given two demerits for administrative negligence, was awarded the Order of Precious Tripod with Special Cravat after retiring from the military last month.
The award included more than NT$30,000, the report said, adding that the money might qualify for the 18 percent preferential interest rate benefit for retired civil servants’ pension accounts.
However, the ministry said the money would not qualify for the preferential interest rate based on the regulations for preferential deposits made from military personnel’s retirement pay.
The preferential rate has triggered widespread criticism and public discontent.
The ministry said in a press release on Monday that Liu retired from the military on March 1 after reaching the mandatory retirement age.
As for Liu’s administrative accountability for the explosion, he had been given two demerits as discipline, the ministry added.
“However, in view of his long-term dedication to the military, the ministry thereby awarded him the Order of Precious Tripod in accordance with the relevant regulations,” it said.
Meanwhile, the 204th Munitions Works has partially resumed operations and is set to apply for permission for a total resumption of operations next month.
Months after the accident, Deputy Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) carried out an inspection of the production center to examine progress in operations at the explosive and pyrotechnic device manufacturing plant.
The 204th Munitions Works has resumed manufacturing of devices categorized as non-explosive or non-pyrotechnic, while production of explosive and pyrotechnic devices will resume in stages based on its repair and preparation conditions, a military source said.
Restoration of the arsenal is scheduled to be completed next month and the ministry will examine the site to determine if total resumption of manufacturing can be approved, the source said.