The COVID-19 cluster infection on the Navy's Friendship Flotilla has greatly damaged the military's image. Commander of the Navy Liu Chih-pin publicly apologized for the first time.
It is my responsibility as commander of the Navy to express my sincerest apologies. I will of course shoulder the heaviest responsibility.
Commander of the Navy Liu Chih-pin publicly apologized for the first time since the COVID-19 cluster infection involving the Navy's Friendship Flotilla came to light via a military television program. He said he would shoulder the responsibility as commander of the Navy. He also had some words for China, which has widely reported this scandal.
The Chinese Communist Party is right now in the midst of wantonly reporting that the military has suffered a devastating setback, and is awaiting for cracks to emerge in our military capabilities. However, it's wrong.
The military has been accused of covering up the outbreak, and the Ministry of National Defense has taken to conducting a daily press conference to provide updates on the investigation. It has been reported that flotilla captain Chen Tao-hui did not report that sailors had fevers. The ministry said that between March 6 and April 1, the number of reports on fevers that it received was zero and it contacted Chen to ask him for clarification.
What he remembers is probably something related to March 11. He recorded tonsillitis and reported that back. In the table that we just provided, he wrote zero in the fever column. He also said there might have been a disparity in his recollection yesterday.
There were also cases of sailors aboard the frigate Yuehfei seeking treatment for fevers. The ministry said it did not receive any related reports while the flotilla was away. It also denied there were any reports extracted under pressure. The ministry also confirmed that sailors disembarked ahead of schedule on April 14, but added that they passed inspection by the joint inspection party. However, it has been reported that the joint inspection party requested Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital's Zuoying Branch to falsify reports. The ministry said it would turn the focus of its investigation to the joint inspection party.
The joint operations stage is the most important stage in the investigation. We will of course include it and it will be an important part of our future investigation.
It's true that there have been many shortcomings in this issue involving the Friendship Flotilla and the Panshih. Every detail and every point will be checked.
Premier Su Tseng-chang acknowledged that the cluster infection has caused people pain, and the government's disease prevention efforts have fallen short. He therefore ordered Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng to set up an investigatory task force to help the Ministry of National Defense identify shortcomings and make reparations.