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Taiwan defense minister quits after less than week

August 7, 2013

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s defense minister resigned over a plagiarism accusation less than a week after taking the job, dealing another blow to the government of President Ma Ying-jeou and plunging the island’s military deeper into crisis.

Andrew Yang said he accepted full responsibility for an article that a ghost writer prepared under his name in a 2007 book on China’s People’s Liberation Army that contained material lifted from another source.

“This is my mistake and I extend my apologies,” Yang said at a news conference late Tuesday night.

Ma accepted the resignation.

Yang, 58, took office Thursday after his predecessor resigned amid a furor over the death in early July of a 24-year-old army conscript forced to perform grueling exercises in searing heat while being held in a military brig over a cell phone violation.

The death of Hung Chung-chiu just days before his discharge infuriated many people. An estimated 200,000 protesters took to the streets of Taipei on Saturday demanding military reforms.

Eighteen officers and non-commissioned officers, including a general, have been indicted in connection with the Hung case.

Yang was also tasked with implementing the military’s ambitious program to transition to an all-volunteer force by 2015.

Yang was the first civilian appointed by Ma to the prestigious defense post. A widely respected academic, he had been deputy defense minister since 2009.

His departure is a blow to Ma, whose public approval percentages have recently ranged from the high teens to low 20s. Ma was once praised for lowering tensions with China, from which Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, but poor economic performance, repeated administrative bungles and a perceived remote style have helped alienate supporters and opponents alike.

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