Most Taiwanese support reinstating draft: survey
An opposition l awmaker yesterday urged the Ministry of National Defense ( MND) to reconsider its ongoing push to transform the current conscription system into a fully voluntary force after a recent survey showed that most Taiwanese support reinstating conscription for national security reasons.
Citing a recent survey conducted by an academic research institution, the Academia Sinica, Democratic Progressive Party ( DPP) lawmaker Hsiao Bi- khim ( ) called on the government to reconsider its decision.
According to the survey conducted by Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology ( IOS) earlier this year, more than 62 percent of respondents aged under 29 said they support reinstating a compulsory military service system to boost Taiwan’s military capability.
The proposal in favor of conscription garnered the support of between 51 and 70 percent of respondents in all age brackets, while only 30 to 40 percent of respondents said they were op- posed to reintroducing conscription.
Saying that a shrinking government budget could make it difficult to complete the transformation into a fully voluntary service on time, Hsiao said at an interpellation session in the Legislative Yuan yesterday that the MND should face up to the problem.
The survey was conducted between January and February this year.
Asked to comment, Deputy National Defense Minister Adm. Chen Yung- kang ( ) , who fielded questions during the session, yesterday stressed that there is “no turning back” in the ongoing transformation.
Meanwhile, during the same session, ruling Kuomintang ( KMT) legislator Lin Yu- fang (
) openly wondered what Hsiao’s intention was in bringing up the survey.
Lin opined that Hsiao’s citing of the survey implies that DPP presidential candidate and Chairwoman Tsai Ing- wen (
) would reintroduce conscription if she wins the 2016 presidential election, as Hsiao is one
her key advisors.
DPP to Review Military System Once in Power: Committee Head
Meanwhile, York Chen ( ), convener of the DPP’s defense policy advisory committee, yesterday told the Chinese-language United Evening News that the DPP did take the survey results seriously.
If the party regains power in the 2016 presidential election, Chen said it will propose a full-scale review into the transformation into an all-volunteer service and how it impacts Taiwan’s defense capabilities within 10 months after Tsai is sworn into office.
The R.O.C. military announced in late 2011 that eligible males born after Jan. 1, 1994 will no longer need to undergo compulsory military service; instead they will only need to undergo four months of military training.
It was also announced that the R.O.C. Armed Forces would be transformed into a fully voluntary force by Jan. 1, 2015.
The MND, however, in September 2013, announced that it would postpone the abolishment of the conscription system by two years to 2017 due to sluggish volunteer recruitment numbers.
To boost recruitment, the government has launched a series of incentives and salary raise programs over the past two years.
Government-initiated incentives are proving successful after the MND said that a record-high number of applicants signed up to join the R.O.C. Armed Forces in 2014.
The last batch of conscripts born before January 1994 will be enlisted into the military by the end of this year before the R.O.C. Armed Forces transforms into a fully volunteer force, the MND said last month.