Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) is facing calls to explain allegations that she passed classified material about Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine program to a foreign state, any link to the arrest of six South Korean engineers who worked on the project and her reasons to attempt to block the program’s budget.
Ma allegedly compiled more than 3,000 files relating to design and construction plans, which she passed on to the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau and the South Korean Mission in Taipei.
Political commentator and former KMT member Lee Zheng-hao (李正皓) yesterday said that the accusations were based on information from former naval commander Huang Cheng-hui (黃征輝).
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
The files contained classified information that ended up in the hands of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Lee said.
The materials also included voice recordings between retired navy captain Kuo Hsi (郭璽), a consultant for the submarine program, and two foreign contractors, shown in the files as “SI” and “GL,” which Lee said refer to SI Innotec, a South Korean marine engineering firm, and Gavron Ltd, a firm registered in Gibraltar reportedly headed by retired British naval officers.
Beijing has for many years warned other countries against taking part in Taiwanese naval upgrades, so foreign contractors had to conceal their involvement, and register new companies outside their home countries to provide technical support and transfer new technology to help state-backed shipbuilder CSBC Corp Taiwan to complete the first domestic-built submarine, Lee said.
The six engineers were arrested because South Korean intelligence obtained the information, Lee said.
Authorities detained them when they returned home last year amid an investigation into leaking of trade secrets while working for SI Innotec, he said.
The engineers, who were helping Taiwan’s cause, are barred from leaving South Korea, he said, adding that the evidence is clear that Ma has contravened national security regulations by passing high-level classified files to a foreign state.
She must face charges of contravening Article 109 of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, he said.
“I urge Ma to halt her re-election campaign so that she can concentrate on facing a judicial investigation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Justin Wu (吳崢), a former New Power Party member who is running for a legislative seat in New Taipei City for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), accused Ma of abusing her position as a member of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee by taking every opportunity to interfere with the submarine program.
Wu presented documents from when he worked as a legislative aide, showing that when the committee deliberated on the submarine’s design, Ma sought to cut NT$1.42 billion (US$44.02 million) from the program’s budget, proposing a NT$610 million cut in 2019 and NT$810 million in 2020.
“Ma sought to interfere with the submarine program from start to finish, and wanted to cut most of its budget,” Wu said. “She does not want Taiwan to have its own indigenous submarines.”
Ma was one of a number of KMT and pan-blue camp legislators who fought vigorously against the program, he said.
Kuo has in media interviews accused Ma of “betraying our nation” and that she had labeled the submarines “undersea coffins.”
He has said that he accompanied Ma on visits to China, where she was treated as a special guest and had meetings with officials from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.
Ma yesterday said that Kuo and others were trying to shift blame.
“Most people do not understand the program details,” she said. “Most of the revealed information came from Kuo and DPP politicians, as many of them also participated in closed-door legislative deliberations about the program.”
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