Former Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming passes away at 82

11/03/2021 08:14 PM
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Former Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming. CNA file photo.
Former Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming. CNA file photo.

Taipei, Nov. 3 (CNA) Taiwan's former Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) died in a Taipei hospital Wednesday at the age of 82, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced in a statement.

Tang, who was born in 1938, passed away at the Tri-Service General Hospital. He was Minister of National Defense from 2002-2004 and the driving force behind the nationalization of the armed forces in Taiwan, according to the ministry.

He was also the first and so far only person born in Taiwan to have served as the commander-in-chief of the Army, the chief-of-the-general-staff and the minister of national defense.

In 1999, Tang was promoted to the rank of senior general of the Army and chief of the general staff.

While he was in that position, Taiwan experienced one of its worst natural disasters of the past century -- a powerful earthquake that devastated the central part of the island and killed more than 2,400 people on Sept. 21, 1999, according to the statement.

In the wake of the earthquake, Tang charged the military with recovering the dead from damaged buildings and providing reconstruction support for those affected, the ministry said.

In line with the policy of government organization re-engineering, Tang played a major role in streamlining and reorganizing the armed forces in late 2001, according to the ministry.

After Taiwan's government began to allow citizens to visit relatives in mainland China in 1987, many retired military officers visited the mainland. However, Tang had never been there and opposed visits by retired military personnel to China.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed her condolences over the passing of the former minister and showed her appreciation for Tang's lifetime dedication to the military and service to the country, according to Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵).

Tsai also lauded Tang for leading the military's 921 earthquake post-disaster recovery efforts by helping victims rebuild their homes and re-start their lives, Chang said.

(By Chung Yu-chen and Evelyn Kao)

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