Tue, Mar 31, 2015 - Page 3 News List

DPP lawmakers criticize military, Ma for PLA gaffe

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Military officials acted quickly over the weekend to remove posters at their barracks in Hsinchu County after a photograph of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was used in a promotion for a “Family Visit Day” by mistake.

Democratic Progressive Party legislators yesterday took the opportunity to denounce the military and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over the embarrassing mistake.

The incident occurred at the 206 Army Infantry Brigade’s Third Battalion, based in Guansi Township (關西), Hsinchu County, on Saturday.

Visitors noticed something was wrong with one of the recruitment posters promoting the government’s policy to transform the military into an “all-volunteer force” and to attract new recruits.

The poster used a picture of members of the PLA marching in step with their assault rifles topped with bayonets, instead of an image of Taiwanese troops.

The 206 Army Infantry Brigade provides basic training for new conscripts and its barracks are always decked out with promotional posters and rousing slogans to boost the morale and confidence of conscripts and their families.

After learning of the blunder, officials at Army Command Headquarters said they had ordered the unit to remove the posters and that an internal review would be initiated to punish those responsible for the error.

“How can our troops go into battle when they cannot tell enemy troops from our own troops? This is basic knowledge and to commit such a mistake shows that military units are lax and nonchalant about discipline,” DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said.

He also held the president accountable.

“As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Ma has been unwilling to defend our nation. He is always parroting pronouncements by China. Whatever China says, Ma acquiesces and cooperates. That is why this kind of thing happens,” Chiu said. “How can the public have faith that this president and the military can defend our homeland?”

Other critics said the incident was not surprising when retired generals travel to China and make public statements that “Taiwanese troops and PLA troops are of the same family; we are all the Chinese army.”

The head of the brigade’s political warfare section, Lin Shu-lin (林淑琳), said that the officers in charge of the publicity had not been prudent when taking images from the Internet and had failed to notice that they were PLA troops.

He said the unit had ordered an internal review and that the matter would become a case study in the future education of troops.

However, netizens did not find the explanation credible.

“How could they just grab images off the Internet? The political warfare section must have plenty of publicity photographs,” netizen Huang Fei-li wrote.

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