Apache in­ci­dent may af­fect re­la­tions with US: Mao

No sig­nif­i­cant change in US ties amid Apache scan­dal: AIT

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY KATHER­INE WEI

The con­tro­ver­sial tour an Army pi­lot gave civil­ians of AH64E Apache attack he­li­copters may af­fect the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Tai­wan and the United States as well as arms pro­cure­ment be­tween the two na­tions, said Pre­mier Mao Chi- kuo ( ) yes­ter­day. The pre­mier made the re­marks dur­ing an in­ter­pel­la­tion ses­sion at the Leg­isla­tive Yuan.

The act, in­volv­ing Lt. Col. Lao Nai- cheng ( ) and some 14 civil­ians who took part in a visit to an Apache he­li­copter base led by Lao, blew up af­ter TV pre­sen­ter and so­cialite Janet Lee (

) posted pho­tos of the tour on so­cial me­dia. All were listed as de­fen­dants on Mon­day.

Lao re­vealed ear­lier that a Ja­panese na­tional and five for­eign work­ers were among the vis­it­ing group, bring­ing the cur­rent to­tal of peo­ple in­volved to 27.

The laws that Lao al­legedly vi­o­lated in­clude the Clas­si­fied Na­tional Se­cu­rity In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion Act ( ), the Vi­tal Area Reg­u­la­tions (

) , the Crim­i­nal Code of the Armed Forces ( ), dis­clo­sure of se­cret in­for­ma­tion un­der the Crim­i­nal Code (

) and in­ten­tional in­for­ma­tion con­ceal­ment ( ) . Lao was bailed for NT$ 500,000 and banned from leav­ing the coun­try.

The in­ci­dent vi­o­lated Army reg­u­la­tions and re­flected the fact that some Army of­fi­cials have not been hon­or­ing the se­cu­rity and se­crecy rules, said Mao. “Aside from pun­ish­ing in­di­vid­ual mem­bers, the en­tire R. O. C. Army should be re­flect­ing on its per­for­mance,” said Mao.

Kuom­intang Leg­is­la­tor Lee Ching- hua ( ) asked if De­fense Min­is­ter Kao Kuan- chi ( ) and Chief of the Gen­eral Staff Yen Teh- fa ( ) should step down from their po­si­tions, to which Mao replied that it would be more im­por­tant for the two to pri­or­i­tize their jobs and keep the Army or­derly. “This should be han­dled ap­pro­pri­ately, or the in­ci­dent would af­fect the Army’s morale.”

Pre­mier to Apol­o­gize for

In­ci­dent

The case is be­ing han­dled by pros­e­cu­tors cur­rently, and the gov­ern­ment de­part­ments re­spect the ju­di­ciary sys­tem, said Mao.

“But we are in­sis­tent that we do not cover up any short­com­ings and will find out who the rot­ten ap­ple is ... and pun­ish him/ her,” said Mao, who also added that he be­lieves most Army per­son­nel are law-abid­ing cit­i­zens who are dili­gent in serv­ing the na­tion.

“What has hap­pened in­di­cates that the Army’s reg­u­la­tions can­not be tested. I will apol­o­gize for this, as this is very se­ri­ous; we will do our best to im­prove,” said Mao.

The Amer­i­can In­sti­tute in Tai­wan (AIT) said Tues­day that there has been no sig­nif­i­cant change in ties be­tween Tai­wan and the United States as a re­sult of a se­cu­rity breach in which civil­ians at an army base in Tai­wan were able to board and take pic­tures of an AH-64E Apache, the most ad­vanced model in the U.S.made attack he­li­copter se­ries.

It is a mat­ter for Tai­wan to han­dle, said Mark Zim­mer, spokesman for the AIT, the de facto U.S. em­bassy in Tai­wan.

“We’re watch­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion (be­ing con­ducted by Tai­wan),” he told CNA, adding that there had been no sig­nif­i­cant change in the re­la­tions be­tween Tai­wan and the U.S.

In­ci­dent May Af­fect Tai­wan-U.S. Ties: Mao

Zim­mer’s re­marks were in re- sponse to con­cerns ex­pressed by Pre­mier Mao Chi-kuo ( ), who said ear­lier Tues­day at the Leg­is­la­ture that the in­ci­dent may af­fect ties be­tween Tai­wan and the U.S.

Also on Tues­day, Tai­wan’s Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense said at a news con­fer­ence that it was launch­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Lt. Col. Lao Naicheng ( ), the deputy head of a he­li­copter squadron in Taoyuan un­der the Army Avi­a­tion Spe­cial Forces Com­mand, who has since been re­moved.

The Army last week held an ini­tial in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions that Lao had brought a group of peo­ple, in­clud­ing TV host­ess Janet Lee (

), her rel­a­tives and friends, to see the Apaches at their base in Long­tan on March 29 with­out ap­proval from his su­pe­ri­ors.

Some of the vis­i­tors even board- ed an Apache and took pho­tos of the chop­per. The mat­ter came to light af­ter Lee posted four pho­tos of the Army base tour on her Face­book page, in­clud­ing one of her in the he­li­copter cock­pit, which drew crit­i­cisms of loose se­cu­rity in Tai­wan’s mil­i­tary.

Army ‘Ex­plained’ to the US

The Army said it has ex­plained the in­ci­dent to the U.S. side.

It was also found that Lao had not re­turned an Apache flight hel­met af­ter a train­ing mission last Oc­to­ber but rather had used it to cre­ate a dis­play at a Hal­loween cos­tume party at his home. The Apache hel­met is listed as a con­trolled item.

Lao has been re­moved from his post as deputy head of the squadron and has been re­ferred to Taoyuan pros­e­cu­tors, who are in- ves­ti­gat­ing whether it is a vi­o­la­tion of the law for civil­ians to be brought into a mil­i­tary base at which ad­vanced U.S.-made he­li­copters are sta­tioned.

At Tues­day’s news con­fer­ence, Min­is­ter for De­fense Kao Kuan-chi ( ) said his min­istry has as­sem­bled a task force to ex­am­ine in­ci­dents in­volv­ing lapses in in­ter­nal man­age­ment at the Army’s 601st Avi­a­tion Brigade in Long­tan Dis­trict in Taoyuan.

The task force, headed by Deputy De­fense Min­is­ter Liu Chen-wu (

), will spare no ef­fort to un­cover the prob­lems and hold accountable the peo­ple found cul­pa­ble, Kao said.

Tai­wan has taken de­liv­ery of all 30 Apaches it pur­chased from the U.S. The model E is the lat­est in the Apache attack he­li­copter se­ries and Tai­wan is among only a few coun­tries us­ing it so far.

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