Troops knows their mission
I fully agree with the sentiments expressed in Lee Chang-kuei's (李長貴) article ("Country, not party, must come first," April 23, page 8). But in order to clear up some misunderstandings about the military, I want to say a few words as both a citizen and a military officer.
Under the Constitution, the president is not only the head of state, but also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. There is no question, therefore, that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is the leader of the government in all matters, be they civil or military.
Because of Chen's background in opposition, however, some people apparently doubt whether the military truly owes its loyalty to him. This is a misconception based on a truly unfortunate stereotype!
To be sure, the military had strong links with the KMT during its decades of rule. That relationship had complex historical roots, but it is now history. Yesterday is gone and there is no need to continue to address this issue.
With his election, Chen severed the KMT's long-standing control over government. It's no surprise that people might presume that the military does not support a president from the DPP, but this is not the reality!
In recent years, there have been several official studies of the roles, missions, organization and force structure of the ROC military. The military has also undergone a series of tremendous challenges due to the changed political landscape.
Nowadays, people in uniform know exactly for what and for whom they are fighting. Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) has clearly articulated the mission of the ROC military -- it fights for the existence and development of the ROC. It fights for the safety and welfare of ROC citizens. Most importantly, we are loyal to a freely-elected president.
Since his inauguration Chen has toured military facilities around the nation to beef up morale. He encourages the military to be the defender of our hard-earned democracy.
It goes without saying that professional military cultures differ from nation to nation and from service to service, and Taiwan's military is no exception. But without doubt, loyalty to the president is a universal military ethic. A soldier has the freedom to decide whom to elect as president, but is obliged to be loyal to the commander-in-chief as long as he or she wears a military uniform.
As professional military personnel, we have to remember that without discipline, armies are not armies, but armed mobs. Without loyalty to the president, armies are not armies, but armed warlords. I call upon our society to encourage the military instead of showering it with negative comments.
Ethnicity and nationality
Li Thian-hok (
There is, however, one essential point that was not touched upon in Li's article -- there is no inherent link be-tween the two ideas of nationality and ethnicity.
In the past, and even today, many groups have linked the two through propaganda and education, as a political tool to justify their power. Such was the case when the KMT ruled Taiwan as an autocracy and it is the case today with China's Communist Party.
Even today some groups in Taiwan still want to use such a link to further their political causes. The KMT used this linkage in the past as a basis for its legitimacy -- by convincing the people of Taiwan that they were Chinese, they were able to hold on to power by way of their untenable plan to retake the Chinese mainland.
Since the collapse of the Communist economic model, Beijing has used the same trick of linking ethnicity and nationality in order to prolong its dictatorial rule, using this linkage as a means of "legitimizing" its hold on the country and its claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.
However, there is no
intrinsic reason to link ethnicity and nationality. If we use the logic of those who feel that Taiwan should eventually be unified with China because of our shared ethnicity, then we would have to come to the conclusion that Australia, the US and parts of Canada should be reunified with Great Britain; or that Quebec and French-speaking parts of Belgium and Switzerland should belong to France, or that Austria and Germany should be unified also, since they all have cultural links.
Nationality concerns the kind of socio-economic and political system a group of people wish to live under.
Those in Taiwan who value the democracy they enjoy as a de-facto independent nation should therefore not confuse ethnicity and nationality. This kind of KMT indoctrination has caused an identity crisis for many Taiwanese. Such thinking remains a barrier to the solidarity required for a robust resistance to China.
Once the people of Taiwan realize that they do have a history independent to that of China (through the various foreign influences and being separate from China for so long) and that our ethnicity is different from that of our ancestors because of intermarriage with indigenous people, they will resolve this identity crisis and realize that we are all indeed, Taiwanese.
Ridgewood, New Jersey
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