Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu (李天羽) said yesterday that Army paratroopers would hold a parachute display that had been scheduled for Double Ten National Day at Taiwan Democracy Me-morial Hall early next month.
Lee was immediately castigated by opposition lawmakers, who accused him of pandering to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for rescheduling the display to make it coincide with the end of the government's UN referendum torch relay on Nov. 3.
The torch relay promoting the nation's UN bid will begin its round-the-nation tour next Wednesday.
"The parachute display has nothing to do with the government's UN bid. Our paratroopers will carry national flags and nothing related to the UN bid," Lee said.
He said the military would go ahead with the show because this was a promise it had made the public when it canceled the event because of bad weather.
"Many people were disappointed when the display was canceled. We would like to make it up to them," Lee said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), however, criticized the plans.
Kuo said the main role of the armed forces was to be ready to defend the nation, not hold performances to entertain the public. She said the safety of the parachutists could be endangered given the unstable weather conditions.
Meanwhile, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
"President Chen is treating the UN referendum as the last fight of his political career and he has gone too far," Ma said in Hualien County.
Ma criticized Chen using government resources to promote the referendum bid and forcing civil servants to participate in the promotional work.
"The DPP used to condemn the KMT for failing to maintain a neutral political stance, but now it is deviating from that norm," Ma said.
"President Chen is right. We do have an abnormal country. But the reason [for that] is because we have an abnormal leader," he said.
Additional reporting by Flora Wang and Mo Yan-chih