President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday urged his successor to continue to depoliticize the military, a mission that was started during his administration, calling the move a crucial indicator of the nation’s democratic development.
“Whether the principle of depoliticizing the military will continue in the future will be an important benchmark to scrutinize whether Taiwan’s democratic development is regressing,” he said.
Chen made the remarks during a luncheon with a group of military officers and soldiers, after an inspection tour of the Ministry of National Defense and the Reserve Command.
The tour was the last of its kind by Chen before he finishes his second four-year term on Tuesday.
Over the past eight years, Chen said, the military has successfully set up a defense system consistent with the principles of a constitutional democracy, established armed forces sufficient to practice modern warfare and safeguarded regional peace and stability.
Chen said that before the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in 2000, many active military personnel served concurrently as delegates of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) National Congress or were members of the party’s Central Committee or Central Standing Committee.
Such an abnormal situation, in which military personnel openly engaged in political activities, was not corrected until he assumed office, Chen said.
During the 17 national and local elections held in Taiwan over the past eight years, the military has been able to strictly abide by the principle of administrative neutrality, he said.
The president stressed that promoting military reforms and enhancing the country’s defensive capabilities should not be mistaken as meaning that Taiwan was preparing to go to war.
Instead, it is working hard to prevent the outbreak of war, he said, pointing out that in the last eight years, Beijing has continued to intimidate Taiwan with its military might while refusing to open dialogue with the DPP government.
“Peace is not built on the goodwill of enemies, nor can it be realized unilaterally through a so-called peace treaty,” Chen said.
He reiterated that fighting for the nation’s survival, development, freedom and democracy, as well as the security and well-being of its 23 million people, should remain the core principles of the military.