A Control Yuan investigation into a guard who committed suicide while on duty at the main entrance to the Presidential Office in May concluded last week that the enlistment process and management of presidential guards is deficient and faulty.
Led by Control Yuan members Hung Te-hsuan (洪德旋) and Lin Ju-liang (林鉅鋃), the investigation found that the 22-year-old guard, surnamed Kao (高), who shot himself in the chest with his T91 service rifle while on duty, had said to his military supervisors on the second day of his military service in December last year that “serving mandatory military service was too painful for him to take” and that he wanted to “get out of the army as soon as possible.”
The report said records of a selection interview involving Kao and military personnel also stated that Kao had shown suicidal tendencies, had been constantly on guard with others and showed a disinclination to share his feelings and emotions.
Despite Kao’s worrisome emotional evaluation and his previous complaints, he was selected to be a member of the presidential guard, or the “iron guards” — a unit known for its high-demand training and high-standards selection criteria.
The investigation also found that Kao’s relationship with his girlfriend had turned sour one month before he reported for duty to the presidential guards and that he had confessed to his competent military supervisors that “he had broken up with his girlfriend and had little contact with his father.”
Kao also expressed he wished to be transferred back to the army to his supervisors, citing an ailment of periodic numbness in his right foot that could cause him to lag behind his military police peers, the report said.
The report also said that while a sergeant of the guard, surnamed Tsai (蔡), had reported Kao’s situations to a competent chief counselor after learning about the conversational records, coupling with Kao’s unstable mental condition and four previous complaints that Kao had filed, he was still dispatched to guard at the main entrance to the Presidential Office.
“The military failed to take any countermeasures and only recorded the aforementioned situation on paper, which was nothing more than a formality,” the investigation report said.
The then-Presidential Office’s chief of security Cheng De-mei (鄭德美) was quoted by the report as admitting when called to a meeting with Control Yuan members that Kao did not fall within the selection criteria [as a presidential guard,]” but added that while he had the right of suggestion on the matter, he could not have a thorough grasp of the condition of each individual.
Incumbent Presidential Office chief of security Wang Hsuan-chou (汪旋周) was also quoted by the report as saying that due to the shortened service period, which condensed the training period, they have encountered difficulties with guard enlistment.
“[Competent agencies] should boost incentives to facilitate the enlistment of [high-quality presidential guards],” Cheng was quoted by the report as saying.
Hung and Lin concluded the report by saying that because the iron guards are put in charge of maintaining the security of the Presidential Office, no oversights and mistakes are permitted.
“We urge the Ministry of National Defense and the Presidential Office’s Department of Security Affairs to take immediate steps to maintain the quality and quantity of presidential guards to ensure the security of the Presidential Office,” they said.