Tue, Jul 24, 2007 - Page 1 News List

KMT attacks military parade plans

'GALA DISPLAY' While the DPP defended the performance as a way to allow people to acquaint themselves with their military, detractors called it a bona fide military review

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The military parade on National Day will offer the public a unique opportunity to see "a gala display" of advanced military technology, the Presidential Office said yesterday.

A presidential official who asked not to be named said yesterday that while the details of the event were still being arranged, the armed forces would not be doing the goose step.

Chen would also respect the final decision of the ad hoc National Day celebrations committee, the official said.

At a separate setting yesterday, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who also doubles as the National Day celebrations committee chairman, said base jumping by paratroopers would be part of the program.

The army said that weather permitting -- clouds at 915m and a wind speed of no more than 24kph -- base jumping would be feasible, Wang said.

Wang said that the army had vetted the possibility of paratroopers jumping from somewhere near the Taipei 101 area through the former KMT headquarters and the Jingfumen (景福門), with a landing at the square in front of the presidential building.

The army came forth with the idea of a base jumping performance, Wang said.

While no budget has been earmarked for this year's Double Ten celebrations, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) yesterday said her caucus would take a close look at the government's spending for the ceremony.

Following protests by opposition lawmakers during last year's ceremony, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had proposed canceling future National Day celebrations.

Asked for comment, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said: "President Chen's words are usually inconsistent," in reference to Chen's remark earlier that military reviews would no longer be held on National Day.

"I believe Taiwanese are quite used to this by now. No one should take his words too seriously," Ma said. "It is not the first time and will not be the last time he does something like this."

KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民) said the president's decision to call this year's ceremony a "military performance" rather than a "military review" was an act of "sophistry."

"A military review has nothing to do with whether there is a goose-step march or not," he said.

"The army gave up the style four years ago and, whatever you want to call it, it is called a military review so long as the army is honoring the president," Shuai said.

Wang dismissed the KMT criticism, saying there is nothing bad about military performances, as they can help the public better understand the composition of the nation's military forces.

Wang said Chen and Ministry of National Defense Lee Tien-yu (李天羽) had discussed the matter with him last week.

Calling the ceremony a "military performance" is "reasonable," Wang said, "because it will in fact be a military performance. The ceremony will be presided by me. How could I possibly do this if it were a military review?"

Wang said the committee would finalize the details of the ceremony on Friday.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus also defended the plan, saying it differed from the military reviews staged during the authoritarian era.

The objective of military parades during National Day celebrations is to "display the nation's military capacity," DPP Legislator Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) said yesterday. "In the past, rulers were merely trying to satisfy their vanity by reviewing the troops, but now we are trying to help citizens feel comfortable."

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