A military sergeant responsible for the security of the president and vice-president of Taiwan has been dismissed for “fraud and illegal gambling,” Taiwanese newspapers reported over the weekend.
But observers are keen to see if the embittered President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party just suffered a thumping rout in last month’s regional elections, feels insecure as rumors about Chinese agents infiltrating her security detail continue to fly.
The dismissed sergeant served in the Military Police Security Battalion tasked with protecting the president and vice-president as well as guarding their official offices and residences, including the iconic Presidential Palace in Taipei.
He is accused of betting on sports matches via unregulated gambling groups as well as fraud linked to illegal gambling, according to his indictment.
A local court has already convicted him on fraud charges and ordered him to pay a fine, but his commander was kept in the dark until the court sent an injunction this month demanding that the sergeant’s salary be withheld.
But it is said that the sergeant, an avid soccer fan and repeat gambler, could have been approached by betting groups from China who goaded him into spying for the Chinese military, especially details regarding Tsai’s security protocol and her communications and emergency arrangements.
It is believed that more dismissals can be expected when Tsai is forced to review security protocols and turf out untrustworthy aides and guards or those who may have been compromised by China.
Meanwhile, another extramarital-affair scandal has hit Tsai’s security battalion, after two officers were accused of adultery.
A married colonel who is the first female military officer to have served at the Presidential Palace is said to be involved with one of Tsai’s closest bodyguards, a man who is reportedly 12 years younger than the colonel.
The exposé by Taiwanese papers includes their check-in records into motel rooms in a suburb of Taipei.
The two have been suspended from their duties pending investigation and disciplinary action.
The colonel was also the subject of a sexual-harassment complaint filed by another male bodyguard of the president.