The military might risk a shortage of conscripts if it fails to transition to a voluntary enlistment system by 2019, the Control Yuan and the Ministry of the Interior said.
The ministry last year said that by next year, 30,000 men born before 1993 would still not have served their mandatory service, and that by 2018, only 17,000 men would be left for drafting, with the number expected to plummet further to 7,000 in 2019.
The cut-off date of last year was decided in accordance with the plans drawn up by former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration in a bid to transition to an entirely voluntary enlistment system by 2014, a goal that has been delayed multiple times.
Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) recently said that men who turned 18 last year would not be drafted provided that more than 90 percent of the military is comprised of voluntary personnel by 2018.
However, the Legislative Yuan’s Budget Center said in a report that as of September, volunteers only accounted for 75.72 percent of total personnel.
The interior ministry also cited statistics showing that the nation’s birthrate is on the decline, and the Ministry of National Defense’s recruitment efforts have been hurt by incidents such as the death of army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) in July 2013, just three days before his conscription period was to end, from heat exhaustion allegedly caused by intensive exercising ordered by superiors.
An Academia Sinica poll last year found 61 percent of respondents backed dropping the current all-volunteer policy and revert to conscription.
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on Thursday said that the necessity of an all-voluntary military should be reassessed, noting that such a system might contravene the Constitution, which states that male Taiwanese are obliged to serve in the military.
In other news, the defense ministry has deferred its military restructuring plan to late next year, after it proposes new strategic goals, at the request of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.
The military reduced its number of personnel in 2014 and planned to conduct downsizing again to between 170,000 and 190,000 personnel as part of its transition to an all-volunteer force.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is seeking to join an Indo-Pacific economic framework being planned by the US, a senior official said. The government is paying close attention to the regional economic pact being touted by US President Joe Biden, although too few details have emerged from Washington for Taipei to make specific plans, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The US is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific economic framework next month after negotiations with Australia, India and Japan, the official said. The economic initiative is to tackle trade facilitation, standards for the digital economy and technology, supply-chain resiliency and
PIVOTAL ROLE: Taiwan’s importance in the global chip supply chain can be bolstered by domestic equipment manufacturing, President Tsai Ing-wen said Efforts must be made to better secure Taiwan’s place in the global supply chain by localizing production of equipment and facilities used by the semiconductor industry, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. Tsai discussed the issue during a meeting with representatives from the Taiwan Electronic Equipment Industry Association at the Presidential Office in Taipei. Product shortages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly of automotive chips — highlighted the pivotal role of Taiwan in the global supply chain, she said. Tsai thanked the association for cooperating with the government on the shared goal of localizing production of important semiconductor industry equipment.
SEPARATE CASE? A woman tested positive when she went with her daughter to be tested, because her daughter had taken the same bus to school as a steakhouse worker The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 10 local COVID-19 cases, six of whom had visited a steakhouse in Taoyuan where an infection cluster has been reported. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that of the 10 local infections, one case — No. 17,928 — is a Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport disease prevention staffer who works in the area where inbound travelers collect their saliva for a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and sometimes at the fever screening station. The staffer had tested negative in a PCR test on Jan. 9 and
TRACING UNDER WAY: The CECC has identified six transmission chains among 25 recently confirmed COVID-19 cases, including those linked to a restaurant and a bank The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 54 new COVID-19 infections — 44 imported and 10 local — and identified six transmission chains among local cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the imported cases are 18 who tested positive upon arrival at the airport and 26 who tested positive during quarantine. Of the local cases, seven are associated with a cluster infection at a Tasty Steak (西堤牛排) outlet in Taoyuan’s Zhongli District (中壢), one is linked to a family of four with COVID-19 reported on Monday, one is a family member of an