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Lawmakers call for investigation into indigenous submarine controversy

09/29/2023 10:27 PM
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Taiwan's first Indigenous Defense Submarine "Narwhal" is on display at a ceremony in Kaohsiung Thursday on Sept. 28, 2023. CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators on Friday urged prosecutors to look into a controversy involving the construction of Taiwan's first Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS), which was unveiled Thursday amid the country's goal to strengthen its deterrence against the Chinese navy.

Prosecutors should open an investigation following allegations that an opposition legislator and arms dealers tried to hinder the IDS project and even leaked information to China, according to DPP lawmakers Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) and Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬).

The controversy not only concerns national security but also people's trust in legislators and so requires further investigation, Cheng said in a Facebook post, adding that failure to do so would be negligent on the part of the Ministry of Justice.

According to local media reports, IDS program convener Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) recently accused a lawmaker of "continually sabotaging" construction of "Narwhal," a submarine prototype with a price tag of NT$49.3 billion (US$1.53 billion).

While Huang did not name the legislator, he reportedly said that person had tried to obstruct the government's acquisition of key parts from foreign suppliers during the building of Narwhal, adding that local arms dealers also leaked information about the submarine to a Chinese embassy after failing to win the bid.

However, when asked by reporters to identify the lawmaker during the launch ceremony on Thursday, Huang only replied "guess yourselves."

In a more explicit accusation later that day, former arms dealer and advisor to the navy Kuo Hsi (郭璽) identified the individual allegedly behind the sabotage and leaking information to China as Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Ma Wen-chun (馬文君), a member of the Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Calling Ma a "traitor to the country," Kuo said he welcomes any lawsuit from Ma if what he said is not true.

In response, Ma accused Huang of using Kuo as henchman to attack her and others who questioned the future development of the project before a prototype submarine has proved successful.

Several lawmakers across party lines have in recent years called for parts of IDS funding to be withheld, with Ma considered a major critic against the program.

"(Huang) started the fire to grab media attention and then hid behind the scenes," Ma said, accusing him of pushing through a budget for seven more submarines to be earmarked, "before the prototype itself even touched the water."

Huang said on Sept. 25 that Narwhal will undergo a harbor acceptance test on Oct. 1, followed by a sea acceptance test, and hopefully be delivered to the Navy before the end of 2024.

(By Hsiao Po-yang, Su Lung-chi and Lee Hsin-Yin)


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