Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Tang laments quality of military graduates

CLASS OF 2003 Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming said he was concerned about the quality of the male graduates, although the women did very well

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Graduates of a military academy wave their caps after a photo session with President Chen Shui-bian at a graduation ceremony in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

More than 1,000, mostly male, students from the nation's military academies graduated yesterday at a commencement attended by the president and vice president.

But it was the female graduates who won the praise of Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明).

"I must say, the girls did a better job than the boys," Tang said at a dinner with the presidents of six military academies on Thursday evening.

Tang said the female students had tried hard to attain the tough standards expected of them, both mentally and physically.

The same could not be said of the male students, he said.

"These boys' performances worried me a lot, because statistics showed that they did not do well at school when it came to Chinese composition, English comprehension and physical strength. There is still room to improve," he said.

A joint commencement for 1,038 graduates was held at the Fu Hsing Kang College yesterday morning attended by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). The graduates officially became second lieutenants and ensigns.

The students graduated from the Chinese Naval Academy, the Chinese Military Academy, the Chinese Air Force Academy, the Fu Hsing Kang College, the Chung Cheng Institute of Technology and the National Defense Management College.

In a break from tradition, the graduates sang pop songs, rather than military marches, when waiting for their superiors to arrive.

While Tang expressed his concern about the graduates this year, Chen seemed more than confident in their abilities.

"I saw it in your eyes that you are ready to fly high," Chen said at the commencement. "Dream high and work hard because it is your job to protect this country and people from now on."

The focus of attention yesterday was on twins Lee Cheng-an (李政恩) and Lee Cheng-che (李政哲) from the Chinese Naval Academy. They both graduated with honors and will begin their service on Taiwan's most advanced warships -- the Lafayette-class frigates.

Of 69 graduates from the Chinese Naval Academy, Lee Cheng-an came at the top of his class, followed by his younger brother.

They both became ensigns.

As two of the top three students from their military academy, they were allowed to choose in which unit they would begin their military careers.

"I want to be the best of the best. The Lafayette-class frigate is also the best of the best so it was my first choice," Lee Cheng-an said.

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