The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday said it would allow people to visit and see Apache helicopters at the nation’s military bases during open house days or through group applications after a Facebook petition by 270,000 netizens.
“The ministry has always allowed public visits to our military bases on open house days, and during these visits, we also showcase our weaponry,” ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) told a news conference yesterday afternoon.
“There will be a few camp visit events later this year, and we plan to showcase the Apache helicopters to those who might be interested,” he added.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
As for people who cannot make it on camp visit days, the ministry would allow visits organized by institutions and groups if they file applications for approval, he said.
However, the military bases would not accommodate individual requests, he said.
“If you are a commander of a military base, would you take individual visitors? Could you handle it if one visitor appears all of a sudden at 9am asking to visit, while another comes at 10am, or when one visitor arrives each minute?” Lo asked.
“If that is the case, it would be impossible to train the troops,” he said.
Lo was responding to reporters’ questions about a Facebook petition to visit the Apache helicopters, with more than 270,000 people signing up.
The petition follows Taoyuan prosecutors’ decision last week not to press charges against 15 military officers and civilians, including celebrity Janet Lee (李蒨蓉), who were given an unauthorized tour of a military base in Longtan District (龍潭), Taoyuan, by 601st Air Cavalry Brigade Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng (勞乃成).
Prosecutors quoted the ministry as saying that the base is not designated as a fortress and therefore is not a restricted area as stipulated in the Vital Area Regulations (要塞堡壘地帶法).
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) earlier yesterday called on the ministry to respond to the online petition, while panning the ministry over its “double standards” in defining “restricted areas.”
“It is unacceptable for the public that army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), an ordinary citizen performing compulsory military service, received severe punishment leading to his death for carrying a cellphone into [a military] camp,” DPP spokesperson Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) told a separate press conference.
“However, after high-ranking military officers gave tours on a military base and even allowed guests into the cockpit of an Apache helicopter, the ministry made an all-out effort to help them and even thanked the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office for not indicting them,” he said.
“The difference in treatment between an ordinary citizen and a high-ranking officer by the ministry is intolerable and seriously harms the image of the military, Huang said.
He said the ministry should explain its definition of a “fortress” and “restricted areas.”
TENSE SITUATION: If the storm does not bring rain, Taiwan might have to wait until next month amid water scarcity in the center and south, an expert said Typhoon Surigae is to bring rain to the nation’s east coast and mountainous areas in central and southern Taiwan from Wednesday to Friday, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday. As of 2pm yesterday, the typhoon’s center was 1,170km southeast of Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), Taiwan’s southernmost tip. The radius of the storm was 280km, and it was moving northwest at 9kph, with a maximum wind speed of 198kph. The bureau forecasts that the storm would switch to a northerly direction when approaching the east coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines on Wednesday, CWB forecaster Lin Ding-yi (林定宜) said, adding that Surigae would
SEEKING CLARITY: Some members of the US delegation asked KMT legislators in a meeting to address their party’s position on the so-called ‘1992 consensus,’ sources said A US delegation tasked by US President Joe Biden to reaffirm the country’s commitment to its partnership with Taiwan yesterday wrapped up a three-day visit to Taipei. Former US senator Chris Dodd, former US deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, and US Department of State Office of Taiwan Coordination Director Dan Biers departed at 11:20am on a private jet. The members of the delegation, all friends of Biden, arrived on Wednesday and met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and other government officials. During the three-day visit, the delegation also met with six members of the Legislative
Taipei’s street names should reflect a “Taiwanese spirit,” Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said in an online video released yesterday, in which he asked why many of them are named after locations in China. In a three-minute video uploaded to a Facebook page called “Taiwanese Uncle Ko Wen-je” (台灣阿北柯文哲), the mayor suggested changing the names of Taipei streets. The page’s banner was a photograph of Ko on Jade Mountain’s (玉山) main peak. The page was closed at about noon, about four hours after it was made public. Ko said that street names in the capital named “Ningxia,” “Tibet,” “Beiping” — an old name for
‘AN EXCUSE’: The intent of Beijing’s incursions was ‘intimidation and coercion,’ a senior US official said, adding that China was using the US to justify its actions Chinese carrier drills and stepped-up incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the past few weeks are meant to send a message to Washington to stand down and back off, security sources in Taipei said. The increased activity — which China, unusually, described as “combat drills” on Wednesday — has raised alarm in both Taipei and Washington, although security officials do not see it as a sign of an imminent attack. Rather, at least some of the exercises are practicing “access denial” maneuvers to prevent foreign forces from coming to Taipei’s defense in a war, one official familiar with Taiwan’s security