Sunday, May 31, 2009

Taiwan to replace compulsory military service with 4 months of training in 2015

Repost from:

Taiwan to replace compulsory military service with 4 months of training in 2015
10 March 2009
Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Taiwanese men will no longer be drafted into the military for compulsory military service beginning in 2015, the Ministry of National Defense announced yesterday. Instead, they will have to complete four months of training and have to stand by as reservists for eventual recalls, Defense Minister Chen Chao-min told lawmakers. "By the end of 2014, we will reach 100 percent voluntary military service," Chen said.

In his election platform last year, President Ma Ying-jeou had promised three months of training, but military experts found the period too short and added one month. Ma later accepted the extension, Chen said. The training period also avoids potential clashes with the Constitution, which stipulates citizens must serve in the military, but doesn't detail how.

Responding to criticism from opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chai Trong-rong, the minister said that within one year he would also solve the Taiwanese military's image problem of having too many generals and not enough soldiers. Chen said he would tell those generals that their careers would not develop further. From 2011, the armed forces will cut the number of young men it wants for compulsory military service by 10 percent a year, Chen said. The abolition follows years of shrinking military service from an original three years for some to the current one year, which will not be shortened further.

Critics of the switch to a volunteer army have expressed concern about the cost of the operation and about the threat from China. The People's Liberation Army has targeted an estimated 1,500 missiles at Taiwan, while it has been increasing its budget and modernizing its equipment and technology. DPP lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang said at the Legislative Yuan yesterday that the change might lead to a lower quality of Taiwanese soldier, poorly trained and less able to fight the enemy. Tsai also criticized the military for reportedly relying on a more defensive strategy to be explained in its upcoming first-ever Quadrennial Defense Review, implying it equaled surrendering to China.

The policy's emphasis was "turning Taiwan into a strong fortress, scaring the enemy so they do not dare to attack Taiwan," Chen replied. Tsai said the policy amounted to giving up on air and naval warfare, allowing the enemy to advance onto land, and then just trying to hold out until reinforcements came from the United States. Chen denied the opposition lawmaker's accusations, saying the main aim was to keep the enemy away from Taiwan and deter him from landing. Chen also apologized to lawmakers for the loss of a navy and an air force computer reportedly containing classified material. The ministry was still investigating the matter, but he said a personal conflict was the more likely cause rather than spying by China.

The military also announced yesterday that it had been losing pilots at an alarming rate. An estimated 699 pilots left the military over a decade, leaving the air force with only about 100 in 2007. Of those who left, about 360 had not yet reached retirement age, reports said. Chen denied reports yesterday that a new think tank was specifically aimed at promoting contacts with rival China's military. The plans for the new body were just a general effort by the Ministry of National Defense to set up a platform for international exchanges, Chen told reporters. He compared the future think tank with similar organizations formed by sections of the United States military.

The minister also denied that the organization would provide an opportunity for senior Taiwanese military officers to visit China in the capacity of academics. Newspaper reports Sunday said the think tank would focus on raising mutual trust between the military establishments of Taiwan and China. The new body would originally resort under the umbrella of the renowned Institute of International Relations at Taipei's National Chengchi University, but the Cabinet insisted it should have administrative status, reports said.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Recruit dies after booking 10 mins

Sigh, another Singaporean male sacrifices for our great country. When it is your son that pays the price, let's see what you are going to say. God's will? Was it God's will that forced your son to be conscripted? Your son is still young and things may change in 10 years time? I waited 10 years and things didn't really change much except for a reduction of 6 months to the time served. 10 years ago I had also hoped that something will be done about NS and didn't bother at all. Most of the countries with conscription are adopting 1 year or less unless they are in a war zone. Are we in a war zone? Twenty years ago the situation was unsettling because of Malaysia and Indonesia. But, in the 21st century?

Recruit dies after booking out 10 min-->

AN ARMY recruit leaving Pulau Tekong on a ferry on Thursday night after booking out of camp became delirious during the journey to the mainland.

After Mr Liam Kai Zheng, 19, got off the boat at the Singapore Armed Forces' ferry terminal in Changi, he was taken in an ambulance to the Changi General Hospital, where he died nine hours later on Friday morning.

Paramedics had found him unconscious at the foyer of the terminal with an abnormally high pulse rate and temperature. The cause of death is still being determined.

Mr Liam had recently completed a four-day field camp before checking out of the Basic Military Training Centre in Pulau Tekong on Thursday night.

The junior college graduate, whom friends said enlisted last month, was said to be 'soft-spoken but very cheerful'. Said one of them: 'He...had a smile on, no matter what he was doing.'


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Son Died During NS, MP No Empathy

How many sons do Singaporeans have to lose? The state should exempt the second son from NS as the first son died serving NS. Can the state guarantee that nothing will happen to this son?

MP had no empathy
Updated 10:07 PM May 13, 2009

It started with Member of Parliament (MP) Seng Han Thong being set on fire. Then came MP Denise Phua who was threatened by a rag-and-bone man. Recently, MP Cynthia Phua was subjected to a display of violence by a constituent.

Although these incidents are disturbing and a cause for concern, I wonder whether the constituents are solely to be blamed.

Allow me to relate my personal experience.

In February 2001, my older son died in a naval accident whilst serving National Service. In that year, my younger son was due for enlistment. A friend, a very active grassroots member, suggested that I approach my MP, for help in exploring the possibility of getting an exemption for my younger son. I was reluctant but he went ahead to fix an appointment for me at the Meet-The-People Session (MPS). I subsequently relented and he accompanied me there. It was in March 2001. That was my first appearance at a MPS, and it was to be my last.

I waited until midnight before I could meet the MP. Prior to this, he was given the case paper which detailed the objective of the meeting and the circumstances of my case.

When I entered the room, his first remark was “Yes, what can I do for you?”. There was no attempt at offering a word of sympathy or condolence. I then related my situation and said that both my wife and I were very traumatised.

His next remark “What traumatic, after two months, you won’t be traumatic?”. With that, I decided to end the meeting. And with that, my respect for him hit ground zero. I was too stunned and grief-stricken to react. Someone who was less-controlled and less-measured than me could have flown into a rage and become violent.

MPs are elected or appointed to serve the constituents. People who attend the MPS are those who have real problems and need help. In a lot of instances, they are stressed, distressed and troubled. What they need is a caring soul, a helping hand, a gentle voice, and words of hope and encouragement. To dispense these, MPs need good interpersonal skills and a high EQ. Arrogance, a patronizing, chiding and belittling attitude, aloofness and lack of empathy will only trigger acts of rashness and violence. Many of our politicians have a high IQ, some are scholars. However, a high IQ is not the only attribute needed in a political career. A high EQ is equally, if not more critical, especially when it comes to dealing with the constituents.

In my case, I would have felt good if my MP could have been a warm and caring person. If he could have been empathetic, consoling and helpful. All these qualities can only come from the heart, not from the mind.

How many of our MPs can stand up and be counted for this?