Apache incident may affect relations with US: Mao
No significant change in US ties amid Apache scandal: AIT
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
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.