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May 26, 2017

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Army chief offered to quit twice on Hung death: MND

TAIPEI -- Ministry of National Defense spokesman Luo Shou-he confirmed that Defense Minister Yen Ming asked R.O.C. Army Commander Lee Shying-jow to remain in his post to continue helping with the military's build-up programs and combat preparedness.

Luo confirmed that Lee has twice sought to leave his post since an Army conscript died in military confinement under suspicious circumstances early last month.

Lee first tendered his resignation to then-Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu on July 16 to take the blame for Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu's death, which Kao rejected, Luo said at a news conference.

On Friday, Lee filed for retirement from the military with the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Luo said.

Luo's remarks came after the United Evening News (UEN) said in a front-page report Friday that Lee had informed President Ma Ying-jeou of his intention to resign from his post as the Army commanding general.

At first, the MND denied the UEN report via a text message, saying of Lee's reported offer to the president to resign, "this is absolutely not the case."

But it later called a news conference to brief the media on Lee's intentions and Yen's decision to ask Lee to stay on the job.

Speculation of Military Infighting

Speculation has been rife that Lee was a victim of infighting within the military, and that the administrative reprimand he was given in the wake of Hung's death was designed to hold back his further advancement.

According to military precedent, Lee stood a good opportunity to assume the post of chief of the general staff, but that prospect dimmed in the wake of Hung's death.

Adm. Kao Kuang-chi, previously a deputy defense minister, assumed the post Thursday when Yen, the previous holder of the post, took over the MND's helm.

In an apparent effort to stabilize Army morale and stem speculation about infighting in the military, the MND said Army veteran Gen. Yen Teh-fa, an executive deputy chief of the General Staff, was tapped to fill the position vacated by Kao.

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