Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) yesterday urged the government to re-examine the regulations relating to physical standards for army conscripts, after a newly enlisted soldier was overwhelmed by training due to his weight.
Chen said that the solider, surnamed Wang (王), was unable to complete his first training session at Greater Taichung’s Chenggong Ling (成功嶺) training camp after starting on Aug. 26 as a substitute serviceman.
“A physical re-examination showed that the conscript’s body mass index (BMI) reading fell within the range considered unfit for military duty,” Chen said.
“Wang’s height and weight should have exempted him from compulsory military service, were it not for a government policy that removed the procedure requiring draftees to conduct a physical re-examination ahead of enlistment, instead evaluating their physical fitness based merely on the results of their medical checkups,” Chen said.
The gap between conscripts’ first physical exams and their reporting days could be as long as five years, during which they might undergo dramatic weight changes, Chen added.
In response, deputy director of the Ministry of the Interior’s National Conscription Agency Shen Che-fang (沈哲芳) said the ministry would review relevant regulations and consider reimplementing a policy that allowed conscripts to undergo a physical checkup prior to enlistment and to be exempted from the service if found physically unfit for duty.
Chung Kuo-ping (鍾國屏), a division chief at the Ministry of National Defense’s Medical Affairs Bureau, said the ministry abolished the policy last year, with an aim of safeguarding draftees’ rights, adding that those who suffered physical ailments after enlistment could apply for a physical re-examination.
“Draftees are entitled to file for suspension of military service after experiencing dramatic weight changes. The enlistment notice also states that people whose weights and heights do not meet the minimum requirements are welcome to apply for a suspension with their local government,” Chung said.