Taiwan’s ‘Apache-gate’ and a Call for RestraintSecurity violations are a serious matter. But Taiwanese media and the opposition should not blow things out of proportion
(Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the China Policy Institute Blog, University of Nottingham, on April 7, 2015.)
The optics could hardly have been worse: Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng, a pilot manning the Taiwanese Army’s AH-64E “Guardian” helicopter—one of the most advanced helicopters of its kind in the world — is caught after surreptitiously taking a group of civilians, including a few foreign nationals, on a tour of the base, during which an entertainer had her photo taken while sitting in the cockpit.
As the details of the March 29 visit to the Army base in Longtan, Taoyuan, became public, it was soon evident that the Taiwanese military had yet another controversy on its hands. Besides failing to register the visit with security officials at the base, it emerged that Lao, a pilot with Army’s 601st Aviation Brigade, had also taken the Apache helmet — a controlled item — off base for a Halloween costume party at his home in 2014.
Then Janet Lee, a former MTV anchor and middling TV personality who had her picture taken in front of and on board one of the Apache helicopters, contemptuously dismissed the incident, sparking widespread public anger and undoubtedly exacerbating the crisis.
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