The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday that reciting the Republic of China (ROC) Armed Forces Directives is part of the spiritual education of service members, but a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker dismissed the directives as a revival of the legacy of authoritarian rule.
After presiding over the joint commencement of 669 cadets from the five military academies in Fengshan, Kaohsiung County, earlier the same day, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) led the cadets in reciting the directives, which touch on discipline, loyalty and obedience.
The practice was suspended in 2003.
Yesterday was the first time Ma led service officers as commander-in-chief.
Ministry spokeswoman Lisa Chi (池玉蘭) said that at the suggestion of the ministry’s Political Warfare Department, Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) had approved the resumption of the practice.
Following Chen’s approval, the directives have been recited at major military events and monthly meetings since June 10, Chi said.
The directives are chanted based on ROC military protocol, with the aim of molding an officer’s character and fortifying his or her spirit, the spokeswoman said.
“After all, servicemen are different from civilians,” she said, adding that spiritual education must not be overlooked.
DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮), however, described Ma’s action as “most inappropriate,” adding that the reading was a legacy of authoritarian rule.
Chai described the practice as a “dogmatic way of teaching during the authoritarian era.”
One passage in the directives’ preface — which is not recited as part of the 10 directives — illustrates just how out of date the directives have become, Chai said.
It reads: “We Chinese people, who have been building our country to today, have existed for 5,000 years, and a 400 million-strong peaceful and outstanding people has converged on a land of more than 11 million square kilometers.”
The words were spoken by dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in 1936, Chai said, arguing that it was anachronistic to recite directives that were laid out 72 years ago.
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