Taipei, The Presidential Office on Saturday released a list of highranking officials to be disciplined over a recent case of attempted cigarette smuggling, including the former chief aidedecamp to President Tsai Ingwen
Chang Chieh former chief aidedecamp to the president, who was removed in the wake of the scandal earlier this week, has been given a major demerit and two minor demerits, while Chang's deputy, Liu Hui has been given a major demerit and a minor demerit, Presidential Office spokesman Ting Yunkung said.
In addition, Major General Lin Kuoching head of the presidential residency guardroom, and Major General Chen Yifu have been given a major demerit each, and three colonels Hsiung Yangkuo Yang Wenching and Chen Minhua who serve as section chiefs in the guardroom have also been given major demerits, Ting said.
The list followed a case of attempted cigarette smuggling allegedly involving National Security Bureau (NSB) officials, including at least one member of Tsai's security detail who returned with her Monday from a state visit to Taiwan's four diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.
According to Ting, President Tsai said the smuggling scandal not only violated the law but also showed shortcomings in secret service personnel management so those who received the demerits should take responsibility.
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the scandal, which allegedly involved an attempt to smuggle 9,800 cartons of cigarettes, worth NT$6 million (US$191,418), into Taiwan under the cover of Tsai's return from her trip.
On the sidelines of an award ceremony for Hackathon Taiwan, Tsai told the press on Saturday that she will not interfere in the prosecutors' investigation of the scandal, but she did take the opportunity to apologize to the public.
Tsai, who described the 9,800 cartons of cigarettes involved as excessive purchases rather than smuggling on Friday, said her wording was not intended to preempt the prosecutors' investigation but to show her respect for the judicial system by not referring to a specific crime.
Unfortunately, Tsai said, her wording had caused the public to question the government's determination to get to the bottom of the case.
She stressed the government is determined to launch a thorough probe into the scandal.
On Monday, National Security Bureau (NSB) DirectorGeneral Peng Shengchu tendered his resignation, which Tsai approved.
On Wednesday, the head of Taiwan's Veterans Affairs Council Chiu Kuocheng was named to succeed Peng.
Tsai flew a China Airlines flight on a 12day trip that took her to the United States and Taiwan's four Caribbean allies.
NSB security agents allegedly ordered the cigarettes from CAL's online dutyfree store July 8, three days before Tsai embarked on the trip, and they were put into storage at an airport warehouse owned by China Pacific Catering Services Ltd.
Shortly before Tsai's flight landed at Taoyuan International Airport on July 22, the cigarettes were removed and loaded onto five government vehicles, which later attempted to leave the airport as part of Tsai's motorcade.
Acting on a tipoff, customs officers intercepted the vehicles in the airport's rapid clearance lane.
China Airlines has come under harsh criticism for allowing the preorder of over NT$6 million in duty free cigarettes when only one carton per passenger is allowed in.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) has ordered CAL to launch an administrative investigation into the case.
Transportation Minister Lin Chialung said on Saturday that the ministry has asked CAL to release the results of its probe into the scandal in one week and detail the case to the public.
On Friday, CAL removed two executives involved in the scandal from their current positions and placed other employees under administrative investigation.
Senior Vice President Lo Yamei was transferred to executive assistant to the chairman, while Chiu Changhsin vice president of the department responsible for dutyfree product sales, was reassigned as a senior specialist to the president.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel