No compensation for Army 1st Special Forces: premier
ROC Central News Agency
By Huang Ming-hsi, Sunrise Huang, Emmanuelle Tseng and S.C. Chang
Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) Premier Wu Den-yih said Friday that there is no compelling reason to pay compensation to former Army 1st Special Forces personnel, but he added that the government will look at the issue from the legal, rational and sympathetic standpoints.
The situation of the troopers who served between 1967 and 1986, whose military service was extended by one year to three years, became a hot issue after opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Trong-rong introduced a draft bill at the legislature calling for them to receive compensation for their extra military service.
Tsai said the government violated the military service act by forcing them with an administrative decree to serve the extra year.
Government officials, however, said the extension was legal and carried out under extraordinary circumstances. "In 1967, the country was unstable and in need of manpower to fill vacancies left by retiring officers and men," said Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu.
Kao pointed out that the 567,407 men were recruited and served their time according to the law during a very unique period of the country's history and he expressed concern that if all of the former soldiers were to be compensated for their extra year of service, it would create a huge dent in the government's finances.
Wu said Taiwan's 13 million population at that time needed an armed force of 600,000 to protect them. "The MND did its recruiting on the basis of law to ensure Taiwan's security and prosperity," said Wu.
According to a ministry estimate, if all of them were to be given monetary compensation, it would cost the national coffers NT$190 billion (US$6.46 billion).
In recognition of their contributions to the country, however, Kao said his ministry is considering some sort of "spiritually comforting" way of showing respect, such as giving them special rates at Defense Ministry-operated hotels and resorts, as well as subsidized daily necessities.
Tsai was unimpressed, saying he would call on the former troopers to take to the streets March 13 to "fight for their own interests."
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