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Pan-blues toy with security issue
Paul Lin
5/10/2004

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Because of the tiny margin of victory in the presidential election, it is reasonable to dispute the results. However, poisoning people's minds with rumors, inciting violence and calling for a revolution is going a bit too far.

Some politicians often talk about military force and national security, and use these topics to lambast the government. This time they have produced a lot of bluster on these topics during the post-election protests. This is not only uncalled-for, but also unnerving.

The controversy about the military and national security as they relate to the election revolves around three questions. First, should any military personnel stay at their posts during the election campaign? Second, should the national security mechanism have been triggered after the assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian? Third, exactly how many officers and soldiers were prevented from voting?

Let's put aside the first question for now. But we do know that China's People's Liberation Army raised their degree of combat readiness from fourth to third during the campaign, which means officers and soldiers were at their posts and could not take days off.

Taiwan has no plans to invade China, but given China's increased alert, its animosity toward Taiwan and the missiles aimed at us, can we afford to send our troops away from their stations and open the gates to the enemy? Can we let all officers and soldiers go home to vote?

We should not forget that these politicians, suddenly concerned that servicemen were deprived of the right to vote, are the same people who opposed democracy in the past. We cannot help but suspect their motivations.

Their claims, ignoring the issue of national security, worry us even more. To woo young voters, they made a campaign promise that they would reduce the duration of compulsory military service to three months. But if we don't have enough soldiers on duty, the day of "Taiwan's liberation" by China isn't far off. Under such circumstances, even if the US were willing to defend Taiwan, there would be no time for US intervention.

Moreover, some people view the triggering of the national security mechanism as a conspiracy to prevent military personnel from voting. In fact, if the assassination attempt had been made during a non-election period, the national security mechanism would still have been triggered -- so of course it was triggered when an assassination attempt occurred during a tense election. Furthermore, the national security mechanism still needed to be put into effect even though the president was not incapacitated.

This is the case in every country; Taiwan is no exception. This conspiracy theory only reveals that these sophists treat China not as a country trying to get its claws into Taiwan -- but as their master.

Other people inquire how many officers and soldiers were put on standby during the election and how many should have been put on alert after the assassination attempt. Some legislators have even made an issue out of finding out the number of soldiers from specific divisions who were unable to vote. Is this statistic of great importance? The numbers are probably irrelevant to Taiwan's election results, but China would be eager to know them.

Since no one can produce statistics to verify the military's alleged support for the pan-blue camp, the figures are irrelevant to the election result. Can anyone claim that more officers and soldiers would have voted for the pan-blue camp than would have voted for the pan-green camp if they had all been able to vote? We must not forget that it is the pan-blue camp that was demanding a full recount, including spoiled ballots. But now that they do not think a full recount would be in their favor anymore, they have decided to appeal for a partial recount instead. Is this democracy? Is this justice?

Nevertheless, knowing the number of servicemen who were put on alert during the election could be useful for China should it be considering an invasion.

The pan-blue camp demanded in a flippant way that Chen bare his abdomen in public in order to prove that his wound was real. Their inquiry into the number of servicemen on duty on election day is like opening one's belly under the enemy's gaze.

People will support the military and the national security agencies' refusal to comply with such demands. As for the concern that some soldiers were able to vote but didn't, that is beside the point.

Taiwan is democratic, but with the enemy at the gate, the nation needs to keep an eye on national security. We must refuse to accede to unreasonable demands made by politicians. If they insist on making these demands, we must ask them why. If politicians claim that someone in the military or the national security agencies made some remark or another, then we must ask that that person come forward. We must not be tyrannized by certain politicians.

Paul Lin is a commentator based in New York.


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