Sun, Apr 05, 2015 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Military lapses do not inspire public

Over the past few days, showbiz personality Janet Lee (李蒨蓉) has been under fire for entering a restricted area of a military base in Taoyuan and posting photographs of her and her husband posing inside the cockpit of an Apache helicopter. Images of the cockpit’s instrument panel which houses classified weapons systems, were also visible in the pictures.

However, it is the military that should be held responsible for the incident.

Lee posted the photos on Facebook after she, her family and friends were given a tour of the base, including the restricted hangar for the choppers, by Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng (勞乃成), a pilot-instructor for the aircraft and the head information security officer at the Army Airborne Headquarters in Longtan District (龍潭).

Netizens and the public did not hesitate to lash out at Lee, as she at first refused to apologize over the incident, saying that it was not a big deal. Some called Lee’s actions foolish and arrogant.

However, the army did not come under fire until its initial penalties for Lao were considered too soft.

Given Lee’s actions, she does not deserve the criticism that she has received, because she had asked the officer in charge if she could take her family and friends to the base, and was given a tour by the officer — who would have thought that it would be a problem?

On the other hand, the incident would not have happened if Lao had stuck to the rules and refused the request, if the security guard at the camp had checked the identity of each visitor, if officers controlling access to the restricted hangar declined to allow them to enter and if anyone at the camp who saw the group raised a question about the tour.

Lee’s case is not an isolated one.

In 2013, Taiwanese director Doze Niu (鈕承澤) was prosecuted for taking a Chinese cameraman into a naval base in Kaohsiung while working with the military on a movie project.

At the time, while others in the crew — including Niu — were authorized to enter the base, the Chinese cameraman had no such permission. However, security officers simply did not check the cameraman’s identity because they knew Niu and trusted him.

Similarly, the public was harsh in condemning Niu, not the navy — though the military had committed a more serious mistake by not having verified the identity of each person entering the camp.

In addition to the two incidents, the military has a much more serious problem, as many serving or retired officers have been discovered selling classified information to China. The military does not seem to be effective in tightening security.

Fortunately, the two incidents of celebrities breaching security did not cause too much in the way of information leaks.

Officers have to realize that they need to be more alert. Otherwise, if the military cannot even prevent such security breaches — which could be solved by enforcing identity checks according to regulations — it may be hard for the public to have any confidence in the military or for other countries to believe that they can sell advanced and sophisticated weapons systems to Taiwan without any concerns.

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