Mon, Jul 29, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Poll highlights loss of faith in military

UNDERMINED:Many respondents said they trusted neither the military’s ability to investigate the controversial death of a soldier, not its ability to defend the nation

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Kenneth Lin, an economist at National Taiwan University, right, speaks yesterday at a press conference on the results of a public opinion poll that showed most respondents had little confidence in the military or in the cross-strait service trade deal.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The results of a public opinion poll released yesterday showed that most respondents have little confidence both in the military’s ongoing investigation into the recent death of an army corporal, and in a cross-strait service trade agreement that is set to be reviewed by the legislature this week.

The survey, conducted by Taiwan Thinktank, appears to show that the government has misjudged the social impact of army conscript Hung Chung-chiu’s (洪仲丘) controversial death and the service trade deal, which many people fear will jeopardize local service sub-sectors, Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), convener of the think tank’s poll center, told a news conference.

Three in four respondents said they have no confidence in military prosecutors’ probe into the Hung case with almost the same ratio, or 74.2 percent, saying they would not accept the final verdict of the military judiciary. Only 16.7 percent of respondents were confident in the handling of the investigation, with 13.6 percent likely to support the eventual verdict, the survey showed.

In addition to an apparent lack of confidence in the military judiciary, that 74.7 percent of respondents said they view the nation’s military as being “unfit to fight a war” was shocking because it suggested the complete collapse of the military’s credibility, former National Security Council consultant York Chen (陳文政) said.

The ratio of respondents who said inappropriate discipline and cases of corruption within the Ministry of National Defense are prevalent also exceeded 70 percent, according to the poll.

“That shows that a comprehensive reform of the military’s structure, systems and culture are essential. The Ministry of National Defense’s 13 measures to improve human rights within the military are simply not enough,” Chen said.

With regards to the service trade agreement which was recently inked with Beijing, 64 percent of those polled agreed that the pact would have a serious negative impact if ratified, while 16.3 percent disagreed and 19.7 percent declined to answer.

Only 19.8 percent of respondents agreed with the government’s claim that the pact would create more than 10,000 jobs, while 68.5 percent disagreed.

Asked if the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had kept the best interests of Taiwanese to the fore during the pact’s negotiation process, 60.9 percent of those polled said “no” with only 26 percent saying “yes.”

“It seems that Taiwanese have realized that three years after the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement [ECFA], the number of people in the ‘losers’ circle,’ and the wealth gap between them and those in the ‘winners’ circle,’ have both increased,” said Kenneth Lin (林向愷), an economist at National Taiwan University.

Perhaps because of that awareness, 62.2 percent of respondents said they supported civic group’s plan to “besiege” the Legislative Yuan during the extra session when the agreement is being reviewed to apply pressure and seek to have the legislature to block the agreement.

On other issues, 62.3 percent of those polled supported a plan ny opposition parties to block a proposed referendum on the resumption of construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), with 65.6 percent of respondents saying they would vote in favor of suspension of the plant’s construction if the referendum was held today.

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