Fri, May 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Ban on military leave stokes anger

DEEPENING ANGST Tension among service members and students in military schools is rising as they enter their second week without leave due to SARS concerns

By Brian Hsu and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

As service members enter their second week without leave due to SARS concerns, they are beginning to shows signs of anxiety and discontent, military officials said yesterday.

Officials fear the situation will worsen as service members in combat units and students in military schools continue to be denied leave.

The ban does not apply to servicemen who work in the higher echelons of command such as service headquarters or the Ministry of National Defense.

The different treatment is fueling impatience among service members, according to the military.

A Chinese-language news report yesterday said President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), now serving his compulsory term at the Navy General Headquarters in Taipei, was still able to take leave -- a move that could deepen angst among service members.

The navy denied the report, saying it was based on a misunderstanding of how the no-leave policy was being enforced.

"The ban is not effective for military personnel who work at service headquarters such as the Navy General Headquarters. Like anyone else, President Chen's son can take leave," a navy spokesman said.

The exclusion from the ban of higher level military personnel has furthered discontent in the lower ranks, a senior defense official said.

The official said the ban was adopted because soldiers might bring back the virus after their leaves.

Meanwhile, President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) son-in-law Chiao Chien-ming (趙建銘) will receive a fine of NT$6,300 for breaking traffic rules.

Chiao was trying to lose reporters when he was photographed speeding away in his Lexus GS 300 sedan from his apartment home at Taipei's Mingshen East Rd. on Wednesday morning with no regard to traffic rules.

According to pictures published in a Chinese-language newspaper yesterday, Chiao was using his cellular phone while he was driving on the wrong side of the road without wearing his seatbelt.

"We have contacted the photojournalist and his newspaper for duplicating these pictures and will issue the necessary traffic tickets to Chiao," said Taipei City Traffic Corp deputy chief Chen Shih-hsiung (陳世雄).

According to Chen, Chiao will be fined NT$1,500 if he drove without fastening his seatbelt; NT$3,000 if he drove while using his cellular phone and NT$600 to NT$1,800 if he drove on the wrong side of the road.

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