In the midst of a public outcry over the military’s disciplinary system in the wake of a conscript’s death, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended the contributions of the army in an attempt to boost military morale, while pledging continuous efforts on military reform.
In a speech titled “Respect the legal system; Maintain morale of the troops” delivered at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters, Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, applauded the speedy amendments to the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法) and the National Security Act (國家安全法) passed on Tuesday, which transfer the jurisdiction of all military criminal cases to the civilian judicial system during peacetime.
He said he expected that the truth behind the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) last month will be uncovered soon after the case is passed to civilian prosecutors and judges as stipulated by the amendments.
“I hope society will wait for the final ruling in the case with calm … Hung’s family members wanted the case to be handled in a civilian court and as their wish has come true, hopefully everyone will respect the legal system and the final ruling,” he said.
The amendments immediately transfer jurisdiction from the military to the civilian judicial system in cases involving abuse of subordinates, obstruction of petition by violence or threat, offense against the external security of the nation and other criminal cases.
In the Hung case, military prosecutors started proceedings against 18 army officers and non-commissioned officers in connection with his death. The case will be passed to civilian prosecutors and judges.
All other military criminal cases will be transferred to the civilian system by the beginning of next year.
While insisting on the government’s determination to push forward military reform after Hung’s death, the president said some criticisms against the military were “excessive,” while he urged the public to note the contribution of the army in protecting the nation.
“As the commander-in-chief, I will not cover up for the mistakes of the army. However, it is unfair to deny the overall contributions of the army,” he said.
Dismissing the military’s performance will damage the nation on a national security level, he said, calling for the maintenance of military morale.