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Defense ministry revokes Navy's decision to demerit officials

ROC Central News Agency

Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense on Thursday revoked the Navy's decision to punish certain officials responsible for warships going off course during a military drill in July.

"We have returned the report on the incident to the Navy," said ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he at a press conference.

The Navy will relaunch investigative proceedings based on the "principle of proportionality," Luo said, following media reports that Rear Adm. Chang Feng-chiang, who was relieved of his command of the Yilan-based 168th Fleet after the incident, received too harsh a punishment.

"We believe that the Navy needs to review its management process," Luo said, suggesting the Navy should make a more appropriate penalty.

On July 25-26, Chang's fleet sailed out of the planned area of the military exercise and moved toward the Japanese island of Yonaguni, about 100 kilometers east of Taiwan, raising an alert in Japan.

Chang received a major demerit and was removed from his post based on the findings of an investigative report done by an ad-hoc Navy task force. Other officials were also given demerits for failing to discover the blunder in time.

The former fleet commander, however, argued that he sent a cable to his superiors about his plan to sail off the designated course but received no reply, which he took as an approval of his intention.

"The core of the problem lies in drill discipline," Luo said, explaining that more than one person or unit is responsible for the mishap.

(By Nancy Liu)

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