Base commander takes responsibility in Air Force drug scandal

By Christine Chou, The China Post with CNA

The base commander of Taichung’s Ching Chuan Kang Air Force base said Sunday he was willing to take responsibility after illegal drugs were found on the base two weeks ago and evidence pointed to their use among service members. “The incident has drawn national attention and damaged the reputation of the military. As base commander, my responsibility is undeniable and I have already sought punishment from headquarters,” base commander Wang De-yang (王德揚) said at a press conference held at the base. On Feb. 20, 51 packets of white powder later identified as amphetamine were discovered at the air force base. Two more packets were found during the Peace Memorial Day holiday. The event sparked investigations into military drug use, with the Defense Ministry promising to conduct drug tests on the thousands of military personnel at the air base. “After finding the white power, we have reported and dealt with the issue according to official procedures. We did not withhold any information and there were no delays, ” Wang said. “We will fully cooperate with Taichung District Prosecutors Office investigators to solve this case and punish the criminals as soon as possible.” Wang said he had demanded that all units complete urine testing by the end of this week.

Since the illegal substances were found on base two weeks ago, around 2,300 military personnel have received urine tests while another 250 have not. Asked why he did not immediately order all personnel to return to base for drug tests, Wang said that refraining from issuing such orders was “part of a progressive change in the military” to respect service members’ rights. So far, eight service members on base have tested positive for codeine, which can be found in trace amounts in cold syrup, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) previously said.