The National Security Bureau (NSB) commander responsible for the safety of presidential candidates put his career on the line yesterday, promising there would be no repeat of the 2004 presidential election-eve assassination attempt next year.
Lieutenant General Hsu Li-mong (
The opposition-dominated committee resolved that the NSB chief and other heads of security units must immediately resign and accept the most severe punishment should any mistake resulting from carelessness occur.
The committee also requested that the bureau strengthen its security operation and administrative neutrality training within three months and report its progress to the committee.
Hsu was invited by the committee to report on the security deployment for the candidates in next year's election.
The Special Duty Command Center will begin the security operation as soon as the candidates complete their registration with the Central Election Commission and conclude the operation on the day following the election, Hsu said.
The election commission has yet to decide on the election date and registration period.
In the meantime, candidates are under the protection of the National Police Agency (NPA).
NPA Deputy Director Hsieh Hsiu-neng (謝秀能) said his agency began its protection program on May 10 and it will fully cooperate with the security bureau once the bureau's protection operation was activated.
Hsu said they will increase the deployment of its officers by 50 percent and the ranking of commanders will be upgraded to general.
They will also coordinate with local police to ban the use of firecrackers when candidates are present, he said.
TAKING A BULLET
Since the command center cannot force the candidates to wear bullet-proof vests on the campaign trail, Hsu said that his men would do their best to convince candidates to ride in bullet-proof vehicles provided by the center.
He said they would also prepare to take a bullet themselves if necessary.
Admitting the 2004 election-eve assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) was a "serious deficiency" of the bureau, Hsu dismissed opposition committee members' claim that the incident was staged.
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) wanted to know whether the security bureau was prepared to deal with a biochemical attack on the presidential candidates.
Hsu said the NSB has a team that deals with biochemical attacks and was equipped with necessary devices, including machinery that can detect the origin of a gun shot from a fixed point.
Security personnel would test food and drink given to the candidates and screen gifts and parcels sent them, he said.
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