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Mon, Nov 05, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Dec. 1 election: Compensation bills bogging down the DPP

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The question of whether the government should pay for the shortcomings of the KMT is troubling DPP lawmakers, who face an onslaught of what they refer to as "money pit" compensation bills for former military personnel.

"Why is it that the wrongs of the previous government have to be blamed on the current government?" said DPP lawmaker Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信) at a recent meeting of the legislature's defense committee held to review the compensation bills.

The bills, three in all, have been submitted on behalf of a wide range of former military personnel who want compensation from the government for unfair treatment they maintain they received from the KMT.

These ex-military personnel include Tai-wanese soldiers who were recruited to fight against the communists during China's civil war and were subsequently captured and imprisoned in China.

Military intelligence agents who were captured by communists as they attempted to infiltrate China following the war are also seeking compensation.

So, too, is another group of Taiwanese soldiers who were recruited and trained in 1950 by General Sun Li-jen (孫立人) but were abruptly disbanded a year later by Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) government without receiving any recognition for their time spent in service.

Former members of the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army, a force established in 1949 with the assistance of the US Central Intelligence Agency to raid the southeastern coast of China, are also asking for compensation.

All of the groups want back pay for their years of unrewarded imprisonment or service and also for their suffering.

The total number of these ex-military personnel is around 36,800, while the compensation they are seeking is estimated by the Ministry of National Defense to be some NT$102.8 billion.

The ministry objects to the compensation bills because it says they are beyond what it can afford given its annual defense budget of around NT$270 billion.

The Ministry of Finance is also opposed to the bills, arguing that passing them would leave the government in heavy debt.

Despite the opposition, the legislature's defense committee passed the preliminary reading of the compensation bill for Tai-wanese soldiers captured by Chinese communists during the civil war, as well the bill for military intelligence agents captured while attempting to infiltrate China or collect information there.

The committee has also passed most of the articles in the compensation bill for another group of Taiwanese soldiers who were forced to leave the military because they were subordinates to General Sun, who had been suspected by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) of secretly plotting to overthrow him at the time.

The committee's DPP lawmakers, though mostly opposed to these compensation bills, did not try to stop any of them from being passed.

Lawmaker Chen Chung-hsin said the DPP knows it cannot wholly justify its opposition to the bills since they are in large part modeled on the compensation the DPP initiated for the victims of the 228 Incident in 1947, when the KMT initiated a bloody crackdown on an indigenous Taiwanese resistance movement.

"But there should be a limit to all these compensation claims," Chen said.

"Otherwise, who will be the next to come forward to claim compensation from the government?"

Chen suggested that the government use political means to solve these problems, such as issuing orders to honor ex-military personnel who had been unfairly treated by the KMT government.

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