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September 24, 2017

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Admiral behaves 'inappropriately,' demoted

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The R.O.C. Navy Command yesterday confirmed that a Naval rear admiral has been demoted from his post as commander of the Fleet of Friendship for his "inappropriate behaviors" during a port call at one of Taiwan's Pacific allies this April.

Real Admiral Lee Tung-fang (李東昉) has been given two demerits and transferred back to the Navy Command as punishment for his behavior during a dinner party at Taiwan's Pacific ally the Solomon Islands this April, the Navy said.

According to the Navy, Lee was leading the R.O.C. Navy's Fleet of Friendship on a 45-day good will visit that began on April 7 to three of Taiwan's Pacific allies, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

However, Lee was accused of behaving "inappropriately," including verbally insulting his subordinates and allegedly sexually harassing female guests at a dinner party in the Solomon Islands hosted by Taiwan's Embassy because he was apparently drunk during the dinner.

The embassy and the Navy later reported the case to the Ministry of National Defense (MND). The MND promptly meted out punishment to Lee after he and the fleet returned to Taiwan in May.

Lee could enter early retirement if the Navy does not assign him to a new post in a year, according to local media reports.

The Navy said that as a senior military officer in uniform, Lee should strictly follow diplomatic etiquette and protocol when attending public events.

Lee was severely punished because he had failed to do so and was unable to hold his liquor, which are serious violations that are unbecoming a military officer, the Navy said.

Originally a promising Naval officer, Lee had previously led a Naval fleet in a joint exercise with the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) in overlapping waters with the Philippines in the South China Sea last May.

The joint exercise was held as part of government efforts to showcase its determination to protect fishermen operating in disputed areas in the South China Sea following the shooting death of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) by the Philippines coastguard on May 9, an incident that triggered a temporary diplomatic standoff between Taipei and Manila.

Meanwhile, a diplomatic source yesterday said the foreign ministry has absolutely no knowledge of the incident and therefore would not comment on the case.

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