Taiwan’s top intelligence agency yesterday said that it has completed the training of about 220 special agents, who would be assigned in four teams to presidential candidates ahead of January’s election.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony after months of training at the National Security Bureau in Taipei, bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥) said that the job of the special agents is to protect the candidates for president and vice president, regardless of the party they represent.
It is the duty and responsibility of the bureau to protect Taiwan’s potential future leaders in accordance with the law and failure to do so would not be tolerated, Tsai said.
In a democratic country, it is quite common to see political figures in close proximity to members of the public, which could present a challenge for security agents, he said.
However, the security details must remain professional and find a balance between protecting a candidate’s safety and allowing access to voters, Tsai said.
At the ceremony, the bureau also staged a demonstration of some newly purchased security vehicles that would be used during the campaigns in the run-up to the Jan. 13 election.
These included Ford Ranger modified double-cabin bulletproof patrol and Land Rover guard vehicles.
During the event on a bureau compound, the abilities of two black Labrador retriever sniffer dogs were also demonstrated.
They are to be part of a team of 11 detection dogs deployed during the election campaign period, the bureau said.
In addition, it plans to deploy Barrett MRAD rifles and NVLS thermal imagery systems from the US, as well as a new gunshot detector capable of quickly locating and countering hostile threats.
The ceremony marked the conclusion of five months of training, which included preparations for handling attacks involving drones and explosives.
The 220 agents would be assigned to the four expected presidential candidates and their running mates, who are required to formally register their candidacy by Nov. 24, the bureau said.
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) has been named as the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) for the Taiwan People’s Party.
They have not yet announced their running mates.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), who is seeking to run on an independent ticket, has submitted more than the required 289,667 petition signatures, which have to be certified by the Central Election Commission before Gou and his running mate, Tammy Lai (賴佩霞), could be included on the ballot.
Against that backdrop, the bureau is also prepared to assign a security detail to the candidates on a potential fourth ticket, it said.
The commission is to complete its review of the independent candidate’s petition by Tuesday next week, and registration of all presidential candidates and running mates would be from Nov. 20 to 24.
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