Tsai lists 3 assurances to stabilize military after chopper crash

01/03/2020 06:09 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen speaks with military personnel at during a visit to the Republic of China Armed Forces Joint Operations Command Center in Dazhi District, Taipei. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office)
President Tsai Ing-wen speaks with military personnel at during a visit to the Republic of China Armed Forces Joint Operations Command Center in Dazhi District, Taipei. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office)

Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) presented "three assurances" to boost military morale at a national defense meeting held Friday, one day after a deadly helicopter crash in which eight military officers died, including Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴).

Tsai presided over the meeting, held at the Presidential Office. Her first assurance urged military personnel to continue with their duties despite the unfortunate loss of life, sources familiar with the meeting said.

According to the sources, Tsai said the best way for the country's military to honor Shen is to resolutely adhere to its task of defending the nation, noting that under the leadership of Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發), the country's military will continue to operate as normal.

Shen was among eight confirmed fatalities Thursday when a military chopper crashed in a mountainous area of New Taipei that morning. A total of 13 people were on board with five surviving the crash.

The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter crashed in New Taipei's Wulai District en route to a military base in Dong'ao, Yilan County, as part of a pre-Lunar New Year inspection.

Shen, 62, is the highest-ranking military leader in Taiwan to die while conducting his official duties.

Tsai's second assurance instructed the military to ensure the security of Taiwan by remaining focused on the military situation across the Taiwan Strait to ensure the armed forces can respond in a timely manner to any change in the situation, the sources said.

In the third assurance Tsai urged the military to conduct a comprehensive inspection of military equipment and weapons, to ensure everything is in working order.

At the military meeting, Tsai was also briefed by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) on the national security and regional situation after the accident, while expressing gratitude to the public for expressions of concern and condolences after the crash, the sources said.

The president has instructed the government to provide as much assistance as possible to the families of the deceased with funeral arrangements for their loved ones, including compensation payments for them and survivors of the crash, according to sources.

Tsai said an investigation into the helicopter crash is underway and called for the public not to speculate as to the cause or spread information that has not been officially confirmed by investigators.

On Friday morning, a rescue team found the flight data recorder of the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter and the military will examine the data to determine the exact cause of the crash.

At the meeting, Tsai announced Shen has been posthumously promoted from a three-star general to a four-star general, the first such promotion since 2009.

Meanwhile, the MND said Shen has been awarded the National Emblem Medal for his contribution to the country.

According to the MND, Deputy Chief of General Staff Admiral Liu Chih-pin (劉志斌) was named acting chief of the general staff on Thursday to ensure continuity in the operations of the country's military.

The seven other confirmed fatalities in the crash were Political Warfare Bureau Deputy Director Major General Yu Chin-wen (于親文), Major General Hung Hung-chun (洪鴻鈞) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff for Intelligence, Major Huang Sheng-hang (黃聖航) of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, Chief Master Sergent Han Cheng-hung (韓正宏), chopper pilot Lieutenant Colonel Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀), co-pilot Captain Liu Chen-fu (劉鎮富), and Crew Chief Master Sergeant Hsu Hung-pin (許鴻彬).

Except for Han, the other six victims of the crash were also posthumously promoted by one class. As Han was at the top of the sergeant rankings he has been awarded the Cloud and Banner Medal, the MND said.

After the meeting, Tsai visited the Republic of China Armed Forces Joint Operations Command Center in Dazhi District, Taipei, the highest command center in the country, and spoke with military personnel to boost morale.

Commenting on Tsai's three assurance, both the ruling Democratic Progress Party (DPP) and opposition lawmakers voiced their support for the president.

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) told CNA that as the leader of the country, Tsai's response to the accident was timely and appropriate, saying it was right for her to remind the military of the need to ensure the proper maintenance of military equipment so it can respond to any unexpected developments.

Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), said he supported the three assurances for the country's military to observe after such an accident, but he also added that they need to be comprehensively carried out.

Tseng added that KMT lawmakers agreed with Tsai's posthumous promotion of the eight victims of the crash for their contribution to the country.

(By Elaine Hou, Yu Kai-hsiang, Yeh Su-ping, Yu Hsiang, Chen Chun-hua, Liu Kuan-ting and Frances Huang)

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