Sun, Jan 11, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Security plan for three-way 2016 race unveiled

By Jason Pan and Lo Tien-pin  /  Staff reporters

The National Security Bureau is devising security measures in the event of there being three sets of candidates in the 2016 presidential election, the agency’s budget proposal shows.

Preparatory work and procurement items were listed on the budget at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee this week, at which lawmakers reviewed the bureau’s budget proposal for security arrangements and new equipment purchases ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Current projections conveyed the possibility of three presidential tickets and the bureau is therefore planning personnel assignments for three teams of bodyguards, which would be bolstered by the agency’s special service units, it said.

According to a senior bureau official who declined to be named, there is a high likelihood that a “third force” or independent alliance group separate from the nation’s two major political denominations — the pan-blue camp led by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the pan-green camp led by the Democratic Progressive Party — will join the 2016 race.

Much has been said about the possible emergence of a “third force” coalition in the aftermath of the Sunflower movement against the government’s handling of the cross-strait trade service pact and the election of independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) last year.

Each security team would be responsible for protecting the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the bureau source said, adding that each unit would consist of about 45 officers.

Some special security measures also came to light at the legislative session, at which the bureau presented a budget requisition for review. The budget contained more than NT$60 million (US$1.88 million) in special allocations for the procurement of new vehicles.

Among the items requested were two new bulletproof campaign trucks from foreign automotive manufacturers to bolster the bureau’s fleet to four vehicles. The vehicles requested are modified flatbed trucks with armor plating and each would be outfitted with two 200-watt megaphones.

The requisition is for trucks with an open-top rear cargo bay candidates can stand on during campaign events from which they can interact with people on the streets.

The bureau’s budget also included requisitions for 12 seven-seater police cars, 18 five-seater police cruisers, two double-cab trucks, four heavy-duty motorcycles, as well as two 21-seater minibuses and two 3.5-tonne trucks to transport equipment and assist police units.

However, some lawmakers said the planned costs are exorbitant, adding that other than the security vehicles designated to carry the candidates, all other items must be purchased from Taiwanese manufacturers.

A decision was made to freeze NT$3 million of the budget proposals for new vehicles, along with a NT$910,000 cut for a number of proposed purchases of equipment for security personnel who are to safeguard candidates’ residences.

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