What is worse is that, aside from not being given all the material, there is no way for civilians to know whether something (and if so, what) is being kept from them. In other words, they cannot know what it is that they do not know.
What has been hailed as a rare instance of bipartisan action in the legislature could end up ensuring that the people who are put in charge of investigating crimes in the military are unable to do so. Facing a mounting scandal, legislators and government officials were understandably compelled to do something, and the revisions to the code are just that — something.
However, this is not the remedy that the situation calls for. What is required is a thorough reform of the military court system and a direct assault on the longstanding practices in the armed forces that make abuse and corruption possible. Undoubtedly, doing so means tackling vested interests within an institution that civilians have always apprehended.
Yet if the rot that threatens to collapse this indispensable component of the nation’s ability to defend its way of life is to be cleansed once and for all, politicians and legislators will have to overcome their fears and do what is necessary. Half-baked measures adopted for nothing more than political expediency will not suffice.
J. Michael Cole is a deputy news editor at the Taipei Times.