Profile of Taiwan's new defense minister Kao Hua-chu
Central News Agency
2009-09-10 03:46 PM
Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) The appointment of Kao Hua-chu as defense minister is considered a good move that will help President Ma Ying-jeou achieve his goal of restoring discipline to the military.

Kao, 63, was appointed by Premier-designate Wu Den-yih late Wednesday as part of a Cabinet reshuffle that followed criticisms of the old government administration's slow response to Typhoon Morakot.

Previously a minister in charge of the Veterans Affairs Commission (VAC), Kao has the reputation of being self-disciplined and imposing rigorous standards on his subordinates.

Since graduating from the Republic of China Military Academy (ROCMA) in 1968, Kao has held a variety of command and staff positions in his military career, including General of the 10th Army Corps, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the army, and Commanding General of the Combined Logistics Command.

Kao is also widely recognized for his efforts, including dispatching relief and assistance to victims, during the devastating 921 Earthquake which struck Taiwan in 1999 when he was the General of the 10th Army Corps.

After Typhoon Morakot last month brought the worst flooding and mudslides to Taiwan in 50 years, Kao was appointed as the leading deputy executive officer of the the Executive Yuan's Post-Disaster Reconstruction Commission.

Kao is one of the few military officers whose performance has been recognized by both the former and incumbent ruling parties.

He was appointed the Minister of VAC by former President Chen Shui-bian in 2004 and was then reappointed by the incumbent president in 2008. The 1974 army helicopters crash is one of his most memorable stories. Two UH-1H helicopters with 20 army officers on board crashed in Taoyuan County due to bad weather and passengers included Kao and the Commander-in-Chief Yu Hao-chang.

Despite his broken feet, Kao managed to escape from the crash site and save Yu's life. Thirteen people were killed in the accident.

Kao will become the first defense minister who has not served as the commanding general of the Army, Navy or Air force. Besides late president Chiang Ching-kuo and former defense minister Cheng Wei-yuan, Kao is only the third Minister of the VAC appointed as defense minister in Taiwan's history.

(Story by Roger Chou)

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