By Ko Lin
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je pointed out that there are both positive and negative sides to conscription and an all-volunteer military, suggesting that the two systems should remain in co-existence for the future of Taiwan’s military.
Ko’s comments came during a military career recruitment activity held at the National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei, an event which coincided with the Armed Forces Reserve Day celebration on Sunday.
After a 13-year hiatus, the mayor said he fully supports the resumption of the annual celebration that is marked with various sporting activities, food and games.
When asked about the government’s move to abolish the conscription system for an all-volunteer military plan, Ko said he favors keeping both policies as career soldiers-only could prove to be too costly for Taiwan to shoulder.
“If I were to decide, I would keep the technical aspects of the military for career professionals, and leave mundane tasks for average conscripts,” he said.
In late August, the plan to abolish the conscription system was pushed back to the end of 2016 as the number of voluntary enlistments failed to meet recruitment targets.
Critics called the postponement an embarrassing setback for President Ma Ying-jeou, which is considered as one of Ma’s most important pledges in his second term in office.
The announcement made by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) last month was the second time that the ministry has pushed back its implementation of an all-volunteer military after not being able to meet its targets.
On a separate report, when asked if Ko was willing to attend the nation’s Double Ten celebrations on October 10, the mayor said he will mull over it without further commenting. However, in his usual outspoken demeanor, he told reporters not to pose questions he doesn’t feel like answering.