The new Ministry of National Defense headquarters complex was officially opened yesterday in Taipei’s Dazhi area (大直), touted by senior military figures and government officials as having state-of-the-art security installations and adopting a “green building concept.”
The main building consists of eight floors, along with several annex buildings. Construction started in 1996, and has taken 18 years to complete, as the project was delayed due to several problems and legal wrangling.
In his address, Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明), who presided over the opening ceremony yesterday, said the complex represents “a new milestone,” and from now on the Dazhi area with the relocated ministry and armed forces headquarters has become the “new Boai Military District” (博愛營區).
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Ministry of National Defense Armaments Bureau section head Huang Te-hsiao (黃德孝) said the new complex incorporates “green building concepts” with environmentally friendly, energy-saving designs.
“The new buildings have rainwater harvesting facilities. Up to 1,000 tonnes of rainwater can be stored on site. There are also wastewater treatment and filtering systems,” said Huang, whose section was in charge of constructing the water system.
He added that by using aluminum and other materials in the exterior glass-wall design, “we are able to reduce thermal heating from direct sunlight by blocking out most infrared and low-frequency radiation.”
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Huang also praised the state-of-the-art security system and safety measures of the new complex, calling them “more advanced and powerful than those of the Pentagon,” without elaborating.
He said all personnel and vehicles entering and exiting the ministry buildings must go through security checkpoints, at which their identification cards are verified against photographs and a biometric identification system.
“Each individual and vehicle must have a file on the security database. The digital informatics system can verify their identity within seconds,” Huang said. “On high-security floors, individuals are checked with fingerprint and eye scanners.”
After numerous delays to the project, some legislators and public officials were severely critical of budget overruns, which ballooned to NT$15.8 billion (US$497.65 million).
Although President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was invited to the opening ceremony, he did not attend.
According to media reports, Ma did not attend because votes by military personnel and their dependents failed to materialize for the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidates in last month’s nine-in-one elections.
Meanwhile, family members of several soldiers who died during their service in the military protested outside the new compound, demanding more transparency in investigations into physical abuse in the military.
Carrying portraits of deceased soldiers, protesting parents and their supporters decried what they said was the military’s disregard for human rights.
The protest was led by the parents of four soldiers who died while serving, which included conscripts for mandatory service, as well as voluntary servicemen.
Members of the Taiwan National Party also showed their support.
Yu Jui-ming (尤瑞敏), the mother of Tsai Hsueh-liang (蔡學良), an air force staff sergeant who died during target practice in 2008, said the military has not revealed the truth.
While military investigators said that Tsai committed suicide, Yu said their report contradicts case evidence.
She staged a hunger strike in May, urging a ballistics test.
“Taiwan is not at war right now; nobody’s son should die in the military,” Yu said. “I do not understand how the ministry has the nerve to spend so much taxpayer money on this new ‘palace.’”
“Each death is like a brick. When you stack them up together, they will be much stronger than the walls of this compound,” Lin Ming-i’s (林明逸) father said, adding that his son died from military hospital malpractice in 2002.
Parents of dead soldiers are demanding answers, Lin’s father said.
“It is very difficult for the parents, but we will no longer sulk in the shadows. More are joining our search for the truth,” he added.
Family members of army sergeant Lien Chih-wei (連志偉) and substitute civilian serviceman Chen Chun-ming (陳俊銘), who passed away in 2005 and 2012 respectively, also attended the protest.
Ministry statistics last year showed that 2,088 men and women died in service between 2000 and 2012, although parents say the number is much higher.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,