MND de­fends con­tin­u­a­tion of con­scripts

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOSEPH YEH

The Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense (MND) yesterday de­fended its de­ci­sion to con­tinue to en­list con­scripts to serve one year in the mil­i­tary next year, say­ing that it was made to main­tain the de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the na­tion.

The de­ci­sion to con­tinue con­script­ing males born be­fore Jan. 1, 1994 was made af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion to cope with cur­rent en­emy threats, ris­ing ten­sions in the re­gion and the need for the na­tion’s mil­i­tary forces to be at a high state of com­bat readi­ness, Chen Cheng-chi ( ), a MND of­fi­cial, yesterday told re­porters.

“Af­ter an over­all eval­u­a­tion, we found there would be a gap be­tween the soldier num­bers we will have and the sol­diers we need to de­fend the coun­try next year,” Chen said.

There­fore, the mil­i­tary needs to con­tinue to en­list a to­tal of 23,100 con­scripts from the 53,819 el­i­gi­ble Tai­wanese men who were born be­fore Jan. 1, 1994 next year, he said.

Speak­ing dur­ing the same event, Hsu Yen-pu ( ), chief of the MND’s Re­cruit­ment Cen­ter, said the latest an­nounce­ment will not af­fect those con­scripts born af­ter Jan­uary 1994.

They no longer need to un­dergo one year’s mil­i­tary ser­vice. In­stead, they will only need to con­duct four months of mil­i­tary con­firmed.

The MND of­fi­cials made the com­ments amid crit­i­cism that the Ma Ying-jeou ad­min­is­tra­tion has once again flip-flopped on its pre­vi­ously an­nounced sched­ule in its on­go­ing push to trans­form the R.O.C. Armed Forces into an all-vol­un­teer force.

The MND orig­i­nally an­nounced in March that the last batch of con­scripts born be­fore Jan­uary 1994 will be con­scripted into the mil­i­tary by the end of this year.

Those con­scripts born be­fore Jan­uary 1994 who have failed to com­plete their re­quired one-year com­pul­sory ser­vice in the mil­i­tary be­fore the end of this year will

train­ing, Hsu serve one year’s al­ter­na­tive ser­vice in­stead, it added.

How­ever, in a late-night press re­lease on Tues­day, the MND changed its orig­i­nal sched­ule by say­ing that it will con­tinue to en­list con­scripts born be­fore 1994 start­ing next year to serve in the mil­i­tary.

Yet Another Fail­ure:

Op­po­si­tion

The move was harshly crit­i­cized by op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers who ac­cused the rul­ing Ma ad­min­is­tra­tion of once again break­ing its prom­ise to trans­form the na­tion’s armed forces into an all-vol­un­teer force.

De­fend­ing the mil­i­tary’s latenight state­ment, Hsu yesterday said it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the MND to make the de­ci­sion to main­tain the na­tion’s com­bat readi­ness dur­ing the tran­si­tional pe­riod be­fore the Tai­wan mil­i­tary trans­forms into a fully vol­un­tary one.

He also de­nied that the de­ci­sion was made due to slug­gish vol­un­teer re­cruit­ment.

A to­tal of 11,865 men and women have joined the mil­i­tary so far this year. The num­ber is close to the MND’s orig­i­nal an­nual tar­get of 14,000, he noted.

Asked if the MND will con­tinue to en­list con­scripts born be­fore 1994 in 2017 should it find there is a need to do so, Hsu said the mil­i­tary would not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity.

This is not the first time the Ma ad­min­is­tra­tion has been ac­cused of “flip-flop­ping” in its mil­i­tary trans­for­ma­tion pol­icy.

The mil­i­tary orig­i­nally an­nounced in late 2011 that the R.O.C. Armed Forces would be trans­formed into a fully vol­un­tary ser­vice from the ex­ist­ing con­scrip­tion sys­tem 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.

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