Paying for missile incident
The accidental firing of a Hsiung Feng III missile by the navy on Friday hit a Taiwanese fishing boat, killing the boat’s captain and injuring three crew members (“Probe after missile blunder in Strait,” July 2, page 1).
In order to prevent the same incident from happening again, the Ministry of National Defense must identify the cause and the officers responsible for the launch as soon as possible and they must be held fully accountable for their responsibility under civil law and the Criminal Code.
As the missile has caused the death of a civilian, the responsible personnel should be charged with professional negligence causing death under the Criminal Code. In addition to that, according to Article 2 of the State Compensation Act (國家賠償法), the state should compensate the victims and their families for the damage caused by the navy and ask for reimbursement from the officers.
This way, the persons who have committed the wrongdoing would be held answerable for their mistake, rather than have the government pay using taxpayers’ money.
As per Article 2 of the State Compensation Act: “The state shall be liable for any damage arising from the intent or negligent act of any employee of the government acting within the scope of his or her office or employment which infringes upon the freedom or right of any person. The same shall be applied when the damage results from the omission of any employee of the government.”
“Should the damage referred to in the preceding paragraph result from an act committed with intent or gross negligence on the part of the employee of the government, the compensating authority shall have the right to reimbursement from the said employee of the government,” it says.
In the case of the missile accident, this means the government, after having compensated the victims, will have the right to demand reimbursement from those who caused the accident. They include not only the second-class petty officer who launched the missile, but also the superior officers on the Chinchiang corvette, including a lieutenant commander, a lieutenant junior grade and a chief petty officer.
The ministry must hold them all fully accountable for the accident to ensure justice is served for the victims and society.
First we had the dog abuse story; now we have another story of ignominy from the Republic of China (ROC) armed forces. This time, it’s the barely conceivable news that a missile was fired “by accident.” It has been all over the newspapers, all over the TV; political talk show hosts could barely contain themselves. Even China looked on in dismay.
How about the military? From the very top, at the ministerial level, down to ranking officers, people were falling over themselves trying to explain, kowtow, apologize and reassure anyone who would listen. It was a painful sight to see.
I imagine that many will have the same thoughts and expectations on a military that can make such a heinous error as this as I do. That is, that it must be courageous enough to address these frankly unconscionable incidents. It must be humble and receptive in the face of the public’s criticism and admonishments; it must thoroughly review military base management, military discipline, and drill procedure; and it must address the plummeting morale.
Some say that a crisis can be transformative, and transformation offers an opportunity.
The military does not have the luxury to feel sorry for itself here. Where it falls down, there it must get back to its feet.
I am quite confident that the military cadres will exhibit the ability to lead the armed forces through this storm. Our commander-in-chief was right when she said, “winning back the dignity of our military is in our hands.”
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