Wed, Feb 11, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Officer explains retirement move

ROAD LESS TRAVELED A former press officer wrote to the media that since retiring he no longer has to `beg' from superiors


A lieutenant-colonel who served with the Ministry of National Defense (MND), and who recently chose to retire shortly before qualifying for a pension, has much to say about his choice.

Ou Cheng-wen (歐振文) said in a letter to media outlets that he had chosen a "road less traveled" -- as had former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), who chose to retreat from public life after helping the DDP win the 2000 presidential elections.

The so-called "road less traveled" is one that very few in the military ever navigate. Choosing that road means turning down a steady income after retirement.

At the time he retired, Ou was only 22 months away from a government pension that would have enabled him to live a comfortable life. The pension is the ultimate goal for most career officers.

Ou retired on Feb. 1 to the surprise of most people who know him. In his letter, Ou says he retired early not because of any personal misconduct and that it was just a matter of choosing a life with greater dignity.

"I could have served another 22 months to get the retirement pension. It is a choice that required great courage," Ou said.

"I now do not have to beg for food or promotions from the military. Nor will I have to bend myself to superior officers anymore," he said.

Before retirement, Ou had been with the military spokesman's office of the MND for over four years. His position might be described as senior press officer.

Ou's retirement became an issue yesterday at an MND press conference.

Members of the media asked whether Ou would be allowed to do business in China.

The MND's answer was that Ou would be free to go to China since he is not considered to be among the military personnel who are restricted from traveling to China after retirement because they have dealt with sensitive affairs during their service -- affairs such as intelligence and combat planning.

Ou, a press officer, was obviously not of that type.

Some have speculated that Ou was not a favored member of the military spokesman's office and was not considered part of the military mainstream.

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