Amid the outrage triggered by the military police’s alleged illegal search of civilian property and confiscation of White Terror era documents, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) urged the public not to overreact, saying that the military should not be crucified over the incident.
“In my opinion, the military is the nation’s lifeline. If there has been a mistake, just correct it. There is no need to ‘decimate’ the military. It would not be in the nation’s interests if the military collapsed,” Ko said when asked for his opinion on the issue.
“I guess that nobody would say [the search] was entirely appropriate. [The Ministry of National Defense] should just correct what needs to be corrected. Do not kick up a major fuss. I am strongly against this kind of social atmosphere,” he said.
The remarks quickly triggered an outpouring of criticism among the capital’s residents.
“Does he hear himself when he talks?” Taipei resident Lin Ming-ching (林明慶) said.
“The point is the abuse of power. If it had been ordinary troops, no one would have cared,” Lin said.
Another resident, Dave Huang (黃維廷), said that Ko had “missed the point.”
“This is not just about the military overreaching its purview. This is a serious violation of human rights and military police protocols,” Huang said.
“It is not so much the military who people are concerned about right now, but the detrimental effect the incident has had on society and who authorized the search,” he said.
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) sided with Ko, saying that the incident did not necessarily mean the return of the Whiter Terror era.
“The source of controversy is whether the civilian signed an agreement granting the military police the right to conduct the search out of fear or whether the military police forced him to sign it after the search. Either way, it indicates that the military police should be re-educated about investigative procedures,” Liang said.
He said that the practice of coercing people to sign an agreement that they voluntarily let authorities search their property is rampant among the police, the military police and the Bureau of Investigation.
He said that while the practice must be corrected, that does not mean the incident was a recurrence of the White Terror era.
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