TAIWAN - The Ministry of National Defence (MND) yesterday urged a runaway military intelligence officer who has been arrested and detained in the United Kingdom to return to Taiwan soon and face legal consequences for her behaviour.
A former lieutenant of the MND's Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB), Emily Yeh (葉玟) was put on the Taiwanese government's wanted list after she failed to report for duty following a vacation last July.
Yeh was recently arrested in the UK and is being held at a centre awaiting deportation. But she has already sought asylum with the British government.
During a phone interview with Taiwan's Central News Agency Thursday, Yeh told reporter that she is willing to be deported back to Taiwan on condition that she will not face a prison term for leaving the MIB.
Asked to comment, military spokesman Luo Shao-ho yesterday said instead of making a deal with the government authorities, Yeh should come home to face trial.
Luo stressed that the MND has no way to influence the decision on Yeh's possible jail sentence for her offence.
Yeh should just apologise for her illicit act and show remorse and maybe the judge will hand down a more lenient sentence, the military spokesman said.
Luo said that Yeh went "absent without official leave" for personal reasons, adding that some local media calling her leaving Taiwan as a "defection" are "incorrect."
Article 39 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces stipulates a sentence of "imprisonment for not more than five years" for "a person who tries to get rid of military service over a long period of time."
Story Behind Yeh's Escape
During the interview with CNA, Yeh told reporter that she decided to leave Taiwan because she could not stand to continue serving in the MIB.
The 33-year-old said she was relatively older than her colleagues in the bureau and was constantly mocked by her peers during her service. She had many times filed complaints to the MND but to no avail. She has no choice but to leave Taiwan.
Yeh said she asked for a leave of the bureau to Thailand in June 17 and took the opportunity to enter the UK under a visa-exempt programme. She said she filed for asylum as soon as she arrived the UK.
She said she is willing to be sent back to Taiwan as long as she doesn't have to serve a jail term. She is willing to do community service instead for her offence, the CNA report said.
No Mistreatment in Bureau
In Taipei, a senior official of the MIB yesterday refuted the accusation that Yeh was mistreated at the bureau.
The MIB's Chen Rong-ming (陳榮明) told an MND briefing that Yeh did have some problems with her colleagues, but bureau authorities have managed to encourage her to try harder to have better relations with her coworkers in the MIB.
Chen also confirmed a media report that said Yeh had left her post during working hours on June, 2011 just to see a visiting South Korean actor at Taoyuan International Airport. Yeh was later given a verbal warning for her dereliction of duty, Chen said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said Taiwan is seeking a speedy repatriation for Yeh and will arrange for her to meet with Taiwanese officials in London if she applies.