Sat, Nov 09, 2019 - Page 3 News List

NSB establishes task force to ensure candidate safety

By Aaron Tu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

National Security Bureau Director-General Chiu Kuo-cheng, who also heads the bureau’s Special Service Command Center, salutes special agents during an inspection in Taipei on Thursday.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The National Security Bureau (NSB) on Thursday announced the establishment of a security task force to safeguard presidential and vice presidential candidates.

The task force is comprised of 330 special agents, the bureau said, adding that all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, would enjoy the protection of the task force upon registration to participate in the presidential election.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party and Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would immediately receive protection by the task force, it said.

Should People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) decide to enter the race, personnel would be assigned as necessary, it added.

Due to the recent prevalence of remote-controlled drones and the potential danger they pose to candidates, the bureau said that it has purchased the Skynet anti-drone system.

The system has an effective range of 2km, standby time of eight hours and sufficient power for sustained operation over 80 minutes, it said.

Six Ford Mustang Bullitts have been purchased to serve as vehicles for candidates, the bureau said, adding that the vehicles can cover 80km after having their tires shot out.

As for the armament of the agents, the bureau said that it has also procured the fifth-generation Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol, which is not only light, but now features a slide lock lever on both sides, allowing for more natural use by left-handed people.

Like other members of the Glock family, the fifth-generation Glock 19 has a triple-layer mechanical safety system, it said.

Bureau Director-General Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said that the task force must succeed in safeguarding all candidates.

Political neutrality must be observed and all personnel should be vigilant for any potential danger to their wards, he said.

Task force personnel should refrain from “gathering information” on their wards while extending protection, Chiu said, adding that they should work closely with candidates’ campaign offices.

“As a democratic nation in which the head of state is elected by the public, we must ensure that people have access to candidates, as long as their safety is guaranteed,” Chiu said.

In related news, the Central Election Commission yesterday formally announced that the presidential and legislative elections are to be held on Jan. 11.

Eligible voters would be able to cast their ballots at polling stations nationwide from 8am to 4pm on Jan. 11, the commission said in a statement.

Registration for candidates running in the presidential/vice presidential election and in the legislative elections is to begin on Monday and end on Nov. 22, it said.

A total of 113 legislative seats are to be contested, including 73 from single-member constituencies, 34 legislator-at-large seats chosen from party lists and six seats for legislators elected in two three-member Aboriginal constituencies.

Additional reporting by CNA

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