On November 22, President Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement on the minesweeper procurement incident involving Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co. The following is a translation of the president's remarks:
My fellow countrymen, good evening. The Ministry of National Defense has announced a list of people who will be punished in connection with the navy's procurement of several minesweepers in a case that has attracted close public scrutiny.
As commander-in-chief, I expect the armed forces to meet the problem head-on, and rectify errors. That's the significance of military reform. Anything less is unworthy of the armed forces of the Republic of China.
Here, I want to explain to the people of Taiwan the government's three positions on this incident.
First, we will conduct a rigorous investigation to clarify the facts, and hold those responsible to strict account.
This procurement project, which was launched by the previous administration, has involved clear irregularities. Every phase of the project—from policy decisions, the invitation to tender, the arrangement of a syndicated loan, and contract performance management—must be thoroughly investigated.
Once again, I demand that all entities involved in this matter cooperate fully with the judicial investigation. Guided by the principle of neither maligning the innocent nor letting the guilty go free, we will make certain that no one involved in wrongdoing will be shown lenience, no matter how high their rank or who they might be.
Second, we must correct mistakes and solve problems.
We have always made solving problems our policy objective. If mistakes have been made, we must conduct a proper review no matter when they occurred. We must move proactively to resolve and rectify those mistakes. The Executive Yuan has already completed a report on its investigation of this incident, and today the Ministry of National Defense has announced a list of people who will be punished.
Next, I demand that the Ministry of National Defense undertake a comprehensive review of the entire tendering process for the construction of naval vessels. It must act as quickly as possible to evaluate the follow-up contract matter, and make a clear and timely decision on this matter in order to uphold the national interest.
More importantly, we must establish a better system that will exclude unqualified manufacturers from playing any role in Taiwan's plans for national defense self-sufficiency. We cannot let the same mistakes happen again. A crisis is also a turning point. So I hope the armed forces will learn from the mistakes and failures in this case, and get back on the right track.
Third, my administration will not waver in its determination to see our own vessels built in Taiwan.
The road to national defense self-sufficiency is not always going to be smooth sailing. But this setback will not affect our determination to achieve domestic production of our own vessels.
I am the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. When the armed forces encounter difficulties, I will certainly share their burden, and we will redouble our resolve to build our own vessels. This is an important policy with a direct bearing on the national interest, so the government, the armed forces, and industry must all work together to overcome difficulties and continue moving ahead.
We have had success with domestic production of the Tuo Jiang-class corvette and the Pan Shi-class fast combat support ship, so I firmly believe that as long as we are on the right path and have firm resolve, we will achieve our objective and produce our own naval vessels.
Our quest for national defense self-sufficiency will succeed. It must succeed. Thank you.
And to our armed forces: Let's get moving!