Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Legislators split over honor guard

MIXED RESPONSE Several lawmakers expressed concern for a guard who was indicted after posting a message on the Internet threatening the president

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Chang Hsien-yao, right, yesterday voices his party's displeasure over the indictment of army honor guard Chu Chao-kang, who threatened to harm President Chen Shui-bian in a message posted on the Internet. Chang is accompanied by PFP Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

The indictment of army honor guard Chu Chao-kang (屈肇康) for posting a message in an Internet chatroom suggesting that he wanted to harm the president received a mixed response from legislators yesterday. While some thought it was justified, others thought it was excessive.

"He is only a single soldier. How could he instigate a rebellion and carry out his idea of toppling the government? Posting his personal opinion online doesn't constitute a crime," People First Party Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said.

Chu posted a message online saying that when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Nauru President Ludwig Scotty were reviewing an honor guard on March 7, "I almost could not resist the urge to poke my M-1 rifle into the president's head."

The Ministry of National Defense confirmed that Chu, who posted the message early in March, has been indicted and that a sentence of seven years behind bars for violating the Military Criminal Code (陸海空軍刑法) was being sought.

The ministry relieved Chu of his honor guard duties immediately after being made aware of the message he posted on the Internet.

Instead of pursuing the soldier, Lu said the should ministry investigate rumors that some military officials have gained promotions through bribery.

"It's absurd that ministry officials have paid no attention to the rumors of bribery, which have been circulating for quite a while, but has desperately tried to punish a small soldier," Lu said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials should consider this case if they truly support freedom of speech, Lu said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kao Su-po (高思博) said that the guard's behavior simply reflected a problem with military discipline rather than a crime.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said that defense ministry officials should impose a lenient sentence on the guard, as he hadn't followed up on his threat.

"I believe that this little boy didn't want to act on his online opinions. Considering the difference between leaving an online message and taking action, a lighter punishment should be applied in this case," Lee said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator David Huang (黃適卓), however, said that a seven-year prison term would be suitable, as the country can't allow the possibility of military personnel instigating a rebellion in the army through their behavior.

"Since the indictment was based on the regulations, under which a seven-year prison term is the minimum sentence for such behavior, the prosecutor must have taken all factors into account," Huang said, referring article 16 of the Military Criminal Code.

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