Taiwan's defence ministry confirms civilian intrusion at headquarters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Ministry of National Defence (MND) yesterday confirmed that a woman was found trespassing at the MND's headquarters in downtown Taipei on Tuesday afternoon, an incident exposing a serious security breach.

Deputy Defence Minister Andrew Hsia said yesterday that the woman, surnamed Liang, took an MND shuttle bus to enter the MND headquarters' Chung Ai compound located near the Presidential Office building at around 5pm on Tuesday.

The woman claimed she was an employee working for the MND and thus boarded the shuttle bus. The driver of the bus did not check her ID.

At around 5.13pm the woman was found wandering around the third floor of a building in the compound by a solider standing guard at the office of Defence Minister Yen Ming.

The soldier saw that the woman was not wearing any ID and questioned her presence in the building.

During questioning, the woman displayed signs of mental instability. She was later asked to leave the building.

Hsia said the ministry is now launching a probe concerning the intrusion and conducting reviews to beef up security at the MND's headquarters.

He admitted that the incident has exposed a serious security breach and lapse in security control in the MND compound. The driver of the shuttle bus is also at fault for the intrusion.

Hsia's comments came after an opposition lawmaker released a statement yesterday morning to expose the incident.

In a released statement, People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh said she received a tip that Yen's office was intruded upon by a civilian who claimed to be Yen's wife.

There are several rounds of security checks before one can enter the MND compound, but the woman managed to pass through all these checks to come near Yen's office, Chen said.

The incident highlights the need for the MND to strengthen its security controls for visitors.

Sensitive Timing

The incident occurred at a sensitive time, when the Presidential Office announced a major personnel reshuffle of the nation's top intelligence agency, the National Security Bureau (NSB), on Tuesday.

NSB Director-General Tsai De-sheng resigned over health issues, while the position is to be filled by Deputy Minister of National Defence Lee Shying-jow.

Meanwhile, military spokesman Luo Shao-ho yesterday said the MND has held a review committee meeting over the incident and will hand out punishment to the shuttle bus driver to prevent similar incidents from happening again.