Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Celebrities suspected of avoiding military service

By Lin Hui-chen and Lin Shu-hui  /  Staff Reporters

Taiwanese actor and singer Ming Dao has been a college student for 11 years and has changed four schools in that time.

Photo: Taipei Times

While actors and stars in countries with compulsory military service like South Korea usually fight to join the armed forces, male actors and stars in Taiwan are allegedly using legal technicalities to delay their university graduation and thereby avoid military service.

An amendment to the Military Service Act (兵役法) this year stipulates that all men eligible for military service must serve before they turn 33 years old.

Conscription Agency Director Kuo Ching-chuan (郭清泉) said conscripts who have not performed their military service by the age 33 would be drafted forcibly or sentenced to three to five years in prison, in accordance with the Punishment Act for Violation to the Military Service System (妨害兵役治罪條例).

Kuo said that although the age of discharge was 36 years, there nevertheless was a 10-to-15-year period during which service remains possible.

Because many male actors and stars have avoided doing their military service by claiming to still be in school, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) amended the law to prevent further abuse.

The agency has already put many actors and stars on a watchlist and the MOE is mulling amendments to the law regulating the length of education and advanced studies.

Ethan Juan (阮經天), Mike Ha (賀軍翔) and Joseph Cheng (鄭元暢) have all been listed as attempting to avoid their military service by not graduating, but Juan and Cheng have since given specific timetables for their service after being put on a watchlist by the agency.

Juan said he would report for his military service after finishing the two movies he is currently shooting, while Cheng, a college student for seven years running, said he could do so with a settled mind after his family pays off a loan.

Ha has said he would serve within two years.

Ming Dao (明道), a Taiwanese actor and singer, has been a college student for 11 years and has changed four schools in that time.

His lengthy path to graduation, prolonged by transfers and deferred graduation, brought him great wealth. Ming Dao owns three houses in Taipei, with a net worth more than NT$100 million (US$3 million) and recently bought a house in Paris for more than NT$30 million.

Ming Dao said on Wednesday he “had not violated the law and am proceeding as regulated” and would serve his military service at the age of 33.

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