The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday expressed serious concerns about falling morale in the military and urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), as commander-in-chief, to act responsibly and save the national defense force from “an unprecedented disaster.”
“Unfortunately, the incompetence and inaction of the commander-in-chief over the handling of the Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) case has dealt a severe blow to people’s confidence in our armed forces, as well as to the morale in the military after the resignations of two defense ministers in a week,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
Citing the recommendations of the DPP’s recently released blue paper on national defense, Su said the “three new faiths” of confidence in servicemen, trust in national defense and assurance for international partners would be important for the military to rebuild its image.
Su also urged Ma to appoint a civilian defense minister to fill the void left by Andrew Yang (楊念祖), who resigned only six days after assuming the position, to show the administration’s determination to uphold the norms found in most democracies and to facilitate necessary reform of the military.
With the military’s image tarnished by the controversial death of Hung, who is alleged to have died from abuse, the chairman said the military personnel ultimately found responsible should be held accountable and punished, but the public should keep up their support for the many other fine soldiers.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) told a press conference yesterday morning that, while the DPP did not insist on the appointment of a civilian defense minister, Ma should immediately take action to stabilize the military, which apparently was shaken by the Hung case and military judiciary reform.
Gao advised Ma to cancel his scheduled visit to Central and South America later this week.
“Military factionalism, rather than plagiarism, should be the reason behind Yang’s abrupt resignation,” DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said, adding that Yang could not withstand the enormous pressure inside the Ministry of National Defense and between military factions, and Ma did not support him either.
“Replacing the defense minister twice in a week has sent a warning, internally and externally,” she said.
Commenting on recent domestic political developments, former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged Ma to cancel the diplomatic visit and begin to work on a reform plan on national defense affairs, as well as a national affairs conference, as soon as possible.
Presidential spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) responded to Tsai’s call, saying that the president would not cancel his trip, but would find time to meet with Tsai and hold talks on national affairs.