President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has not decided whether to attend a live-fire military drill later this month, the Presidential Office said yesterday.
Spokesman Wang Yu-chih (王郁琦) yesterday said he did not know whether Ma would participate in the annual exercise, code-named Han Kuang, scheduled to be held between Sept. 22 and Sept. 26.
Ma presided over the computer-simulated first stage of the drill back in June. It was the first annual Han Kuang exercise since Ma took office.
The computerized warfare simulation broke from the past focus on air, sea and land defense drills, focusing instead on ground combat, with battles in the north of the country and diversionary combat in central and southern Taiwan.
The second-stage, live-fire military drill is to be held later this month. The military is expected to mobilize 30,000 reserves to participate in the exercise. The large-scale military drill will include the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines, with the focus on ground combat and urban warfare.
The Ministry of National Defense has said it would not televise any part of the drill as Ma’s predecessors did. Nor would the ministry invite reporters or other guests to observe the drill, which the ministry said was to save energy in line with government policy.
The ministry has rebutted speculation that this year’s low-profile approach is designed to avoid tensions with China as the government seeks to improve cross-strait relations.
Antonio Hsiang (向駿), a research fellow at the Society for Strategic Studies, said that considering the thaw in relations with China, the efforts to keep this year’s Han Kuang exercise low-key were not surprising.
“As military strategy must correspond to national policy, the military has no say in this regard, as it is part of the overall game plan,” he said.
While the military strategy of the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was to deter the enemy in the Taiwan Strait and launch preemptive strikes, Hsiang said the focus on urban warfare this year indicated a shift in military strategy to more defensive training, which Ma has repeatedly advocated.
Meanwhile, Wang said late on Saturday that the government would step up communications with the opposition camp on various policies and public issues.
Wang made the remarks after tens of thousands of people marched in Taipei earlier the same day to protest what they called Ma’s embrace of China and the failure of his administration to improve the economy.
Acknowledging the right to demonstrate and freedom of assembly, Wang said the government would increase dialogue with grassroots groups and opposition parties, solicit their opinions on policies and seek their understanding and support for major initiatives.
Wang also said the Cabinet’s major policies were on the right track. The government will work even harder to live up to the high expectations of the public and adopt innovative measures to cope with the global economic situation and revamp the economy, he said.
The protest was the first major rally targeting Ma’s administration since he took office 100 days ago. Demonstrators marched through Taipei from two points and met up on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office to call for “sunshine bills” to ensure clean politics and other changes.
The rally, organized by the pro-independence Taiwan Society, ended in the evening without incident.
Two lottery players recently won NT$1 million (US$31,822) prizes on scratch lotto tickets they purchased on the same day at the same store in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area. Taiwan Lottery Co said that the lotto wins both happened on “20 million Super Red Envelope” (2,000萬超級紅包) scratch cards sold at a shop on Kunming Street on the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday on Thursday last week. The first of the winners was a married couple, who first won NT$2,000 on a NT$300 scratch lotto card, and then used their winnings to buy a NT$2,000 Super Red Envelope. After noticing that there
CAMBODIAN CON: The two men filmed videos with made-up content with a focus on purported human trafficking, beatings and sexual assaults by scammers Cambodian authorities yesterday sentenced two Taiwanese to two years in prison and a NT$30,000 fine each for staging a kidnapping in the southern coastal city of Sihanoukville which they live streamed online. Chen Neng-chuan (陳能釧), 31, and Lu Tsu-hsien (魯祖顯), 34, were convicted of inciting and causing social disorder a day after Cambodian police officials convened a news conference about their arrest. Chen, who goes by the online name “Goodnight Chicken” (晚安小雞), and Lu, known by the handle “Anow” (阿鬧), must each pay 4 million riels (US$982), according to a court filing. The court said the duo arrived in the Cambodian capital, Phnom
TAKE PRECAUTIONS: Never hike alone and prepare food, water and appropriate equipment for Taiwan’s mountains, particularly in the winter, officials said Two mountain hikers were rescued yesterday, a day after a body was airlifted out of Yushan National Park, one of several deaths related to mountaineering or hiking in the past two weeks, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. A Nantou County mountain rescue team called for a helicopter while responding to a call yesterday morning. They said a woman surnamed Chen (陳), 31, and a man surnamed Lin (林), 32, got lost in the mountains around the Batongguan Historic Trail (八通關古道), while traveling west toward Dongpu Township (東埔). They were directed to a nearby alpine meadow, where the helicopter landed with four
National Taiwan University (NTU) was ranked in the 126-150 band in the Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings 2023 released on Tuesday, falling for a third consecutive year. In the 2020 rankings, NTU took the 40th spot, improving significantly from the 51-60 band the previous year in its best ranking in past five years, THE data showed. However, since then the university’s ranking has dropped continuously, falling into the 61-70 band in 2021 and the 91-100 band in 2022. The list does not assign specific rankings to universities ranked outside the top 50. In 2020, three other Taiwanese universities were also listed in