Tue, Nov 16, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Military has passed the test

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) have continued in their efforts to stir up trouble ever since the presidential elections seven months ago. The ensuing disorder has hung over Taiwan like a dark, ominous cloud. Fortunately, even this cloud has a silver lining.

In the month following the election, the pan-blue camp mobilized the masses to protest in front of the Presidential Office as part of their attempts at a revolution. They were exploiting the power of the people in their quest to overturn the government of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and also called on the military and the police to make a stand.

This weekend Chen revealed a hitherto unknown fact, namely that after the election a retired general had asked high-ranking military leaders to exert pressure on the president either by having themselves admitted to hospital on false pretenses, or by tendering their resignations. The abortive seven-day coup was not an attempted military coup, but was intended as a "soft coup." Fortunately, the depoliticization of Taiwan's armed forces has already occurred with a considerable degree of success, and the "soft coup" failed.

The failure of the quasi-revolution brings us mixed feelings of anxiety and happiness. The anxiety is because certain elements in the KMT are willing to resort to any expedient to gain power, even to the extent of tainting the politically neutral military by encouraging senior officers to express their political views.

This violates Article 138 of the Constitution, which states that military personnel "shall be above personal, regional and party affiliation." At the same time, the blue camp has also violated Article 139 of the Constitution, which states that "no political party ... shall make use of the armed forces as an instrument in the struggle of political powers."

The blue camp does not respect the outcome of a democratic election, and refuses to trust the process of judicial arbitration; instead, it puts its faith in Machiavellian intrigue, which the blues believe is all that works. We are happy to see that the light of democracy in Taiwan has not been consumed by the darkness of political reactionism.

We can be happy that Taiwan's military has finally cast off its role as an army loyal only to the KMT, and has become an army loyal to the Republic of China, its Constitution and its people.

The army of the Republic of China was founded by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) with an officer corps drawn from members of the Whampoa Military Academy. It was heavily colored by personal loyalty to its founder and his family, and was often called "Chiang's army."

During the process of Taiwan's democratization, the identification of the military as Chiang's army, which was the KMT's army, was questioned and subsequently challenged. With the passage of the Defense Ministry Organizational Law (國防組織法), Taiwan's military acquired political neutrality under the law, and the quality of the military organization began to improve as a result. After the 2000 presidential election, Chief of the General Staff Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) led the military in swearing allegiance to the constitutionally elected president, clearly drawing a line of separation between nation and party. In this year's presidential election, although the final result was controversial, the military maintained its neutrality and was unmoved by the political pressure of the KMT. This clearly showed that the military had passed the test and become defenders of the Constitution and protectors of the people.

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