In light of previous shootings on the eve of important elections and claims that such incidents could have a disproportionate influence on how people vote, live security exercises have been undertaken since June to ensure the security of all presidential candidates in the run-up to the presidential election in January, the National Security Bureau (NSB) said.
On March 19, 2004, the day before the presidential election, a bullet grazed then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) stomach and another hit then-vice president Annette Lu’s (呂秀蓮) knee as they were sat in a motorcade campaigning in Tainan.
Last year, former vice president Lien Chan’s (連戰) son Sean Lien (連勝文) was shot in the face the night before the special municipality elections on Nov. 27 while attending a rally for a New Taipei City councilor candidate in Yonghe City (永和).
Seeking to take preventive measures against any possible recurrence in combined presidential and legislative elections in January, the bureau said it has already put security teams through rigorous training and would hold a ceremony in early November to formally announce the establishment of security details for next year’s presidential candidates.
The bureau’s Special Service Center organized a live exercise in front of the Military Police School on Friday, attended by officials from the Coast Guard Administration, National Police Administration, the National Immigration Agency and the Military Police Command Center, in an effort to unite everyone involved in planning and enforcing security detail arrangements.
According to the bureau, the Special Service Center achieved good results when it organized a live fire exercise for the police departments of Greater Taichung, Greater Kaohsiung and Taipei City on June 23, June 24 and June 27 respectively. Those exercises simulated scenarios where candidates canvassed on the streets, in a night market and on foot.
One special agent said that well-wishers had the unfortunate custom of setting off firecrackers when candidates’ motorcades passed through an area or the candidates themselves visited a traditional market.
Such behavior severely complicates security work, the agent said, adding that the bureau had already held talks with the relevant authorities about a possible ban on the use of firecrackers in the vicinity of presidential candidates or their vehicles.
A bureau official said that the live exercises brought together different agencies and were organized around real-life scenarios, such as scouting an area for potential threats, detailed deployment and how to handle a variety of disturbances.
The point of the exercises was to enhance inter-agency coordination and to improve the ability of teams to improvise depending on the situation to keep candidates safe at all times, the bureau official said.
The official added that since last month the Special Service Center has also offered training in marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat and bodyguard work.
Heads of security details, team leaders and drivers have all been given such special training, the official said.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER