Thu, Nov 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

MND downplays alleged ‘abuse’ by ethics officer in EU

TOUGH TALK?Ministry officials said reports of an officer in France physically abusing an employee were false, but admitted verbal spats had occurred

By Lo Tien-pin, Fan Cheng-hsiang and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Ministry of National Defense (MND) officials earlier this week sought to defuse a potential scandal in which a female Taiwanese military officer is alleged to have engaged in abusive behavior toward a foreign employee while stationed abroad.

According to an unnamed whistleblower, an ethics officer with the ministry’s Procurement Bureau Office in Europe was allegedly involved in a dispute with a locally hired contract employee, a female French citizen of Chinese descent, in which the officer reportedly physically abused the French woman.

The relationship deteriorated to such a degree that the contractor made complaints with both the French government and the Bureau de Representation de Taipei en France, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Paris, the whistleblower said.

The representative office conducted an investigation and was reportedly highly dissatisfied with the response obtained from the ministry and in turn filed a complaint against it over its handling of the matter.

Asked to comment on the case, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was up to the MND to provide a response to press inquiries.

MND spokesperson David Lo (羅紹和) confirmed on Tuesday that the ethics officer, surnamed Chen (陳), had had worked at the Procurement Bureau Office in Europe and that she had verbal quarrels with the employee. As a result, the MND has launched an investigation and could reassign her if necessary.

Lo also confirmed that officials from the French representative office had requested that the MND mediate the dispute, but added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not “made a serious complaint” as some media reported.

Everything is fine with the officers at the MND’s Procurement Bureau Office in Europe and their work is going smoothly, he said.

An unnamed military official was quoted as saying that the ethics officer involved was nearing the completion of her term and that in light of the dispute, the MND was considering reassigning her or recalling her to Taiwan.

However, these are routine job rotations made by the MND and should not be seen as disciplinary measures, he said.

He said the charge of “physical abuse” was false and that the alleged victim was not a housemaid, as reported by some media.

The official admitted that the ethics officer and the employee had often disagreed over work and that the officer was very demanding. As a result, they often engaged in verbal quarrels, but this was very different than “physical abuse,” the official said.

In related developments, Lo said a separate investigation had yielded no evidence that a Taiwanese military officer stationed in Europe had been in clandestine contact with Chinese officials, as reported by some media.

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