Jakarta envoy tapped for deputy defense minister

By Joseph Yeh,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Executive Yuan yesterday made a surprising announcement by naming Taiwan’s top envoy to Indonesia Andrew Hsia (夏立言) as the nation’s new deputy defense minister. The 63-year-old Hsia is a former deputy foreign minister and had served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in important posts in the United States, including as head of Taiwan’s representative office in New York, the Executive Yuan said in a released statement. He was named the new deputy defense chief because of his close connection with several U.S. government officials responsible for arms sales to Taiwan, the Executive Yuan said. As a career diplomat, Hsia is also well-experienced and highly skilled in negotiations and could largely boost the military’s capability in terms of international communications and arms sales issues, it noted. In response to the appointment, Hsia told local media yesterday that as a public servant, he has to accept the new appointment given by his superior and he will do his best in the new position. Hsia admitted that he has a limited understanding of the new position so far, but he will do his utmost to be prepared and get ready for the new challenge. Hsia was named as the nation’s top envoy to Indonesia in 2009 after he resigned from his previous post as deputy foreign minister in the wake of criticism regarding the government’s refusal to extend foreign aid to victims of Typhoon Morakot.

Typhoon Morakot, which devastated Southern Taiwan in August 2009, was also the deadliest typhoon to affect Taiwan in recorded history. It wrought catastrophic damage in Taiwan, leaving 461 people dead and 192 missing.

Vacancy Left by Yang Hsia will take over the vacancy left by Andrew Yang (楊念祖), who was promoted to defense minister on Aug. 1 following the resignation of his predecessor Kao Hua-chu (高華柱), who stepped aside following the controversy surrounding the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘). Yang, however, only served in the top defense post for six days.

He resigned on Aug. 6 due to a plagiarized article in a 2007 book he wrote and edited. Yang is the shortest-serving defense minister in Taiwan’s history.