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June 23, 2017

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Mechanism already allows personnel an out: MND

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has an existing mechanism to allow military personnel who consider themselves unsuited for a military life to file for early discharge, military sources told local media yesterday.

The comments were made in the wake of accusations raised by a lawyer for former MND Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) officer Emily Yeh (葉玫), who alleged that there was no mechanism within the military to allow an officer like Yeh to resign from her post.

The 33-year-old Yeh was repatriated back to Taiwan on Sunday after deserting her post and going into hiding in the UK in July, 2012.

She is currently under detention in Taichung on charges of being "absent without leave," an offense that carries a maximum sentence of five years under the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法).

In a statement released Sunday upon Yeh's homecoming, Yeh's lawyer Kuo Te-tien (郭德田) describes Yeh's case as a "tragedy."He claimed that Yeh applied many times for an early discharge from the bureau due to the fact that she believed she was not suited for military life.

However, there was no mechanism in the military to allow an officer like Yeh to successfully resign, as her resignation requests were rejected repeatedly by the military, Kuo said.  

Asked to comment, military sources told local media yesterday that as a reserve officer, Yeh is required to serve in the military no less than five years before she can file for a discharge from the service, in accordance with the Act of Military Service for Officers and Noncommissioned Officers of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍軍官士官服役條例).

Yeh only served two years in the MIB before she fled the country.

Early Discharge Under Conditions

Military sources, however, noted that Article 15 of the same act stipulates that military personnel are allowed to retire before they complete the minimum service period in the following cases: "Due to illness, injury or weak physical condition and ... proven not suitable for service; or (if servicemembers) have been given an annual evaluation grade lower than a "C" or have been recorded for two demerits due to personal cause, and were determined by the Personnel Reviewing Board not suitable for service."

Military sources, however, admitted that Yeh was still unable to be granted an early retirement despite the existing mechanism.

  The sources said the MND will review the existing system and make possible adjustments when necessary to avoid such incidents from happening again.

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