Ministry defends results of military recruitment
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, July 21 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense said Sunday that as of July 3, it had recruited 1,847 men and women, or 31 percent of the target of 5,887, for joining the military, downplaying a local media report on poor results of the ministry's recruitment drive.
The ministry has been stepping up efforts to recruit more servicemen and servicewomen into the military to fulfill the country's goal of having an all-volunteer force by 2015.
But the latest scandal of the suspicious death of an Army conscript may have had an impact on the plan to turn Taiwan's military into an all-volunteer force, said a report in the Chinese-language United Evening News.
Citing opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Hsueh Ling, the report said the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu has sparked concerns over the safety in the military and may have prompted those who have recently joined the military to quit.
The report also said only 462 newly enlisted personnel reported to their units in the first six months of 2013 -- less than two percent of the 28,000 servicemen and servicewomen the military had planned to recruit.
But the defense ministry said in a statement that its yearly target is 17,447.
It said that a total of 1,847 men and women have been recruited in the military as of July 3, the day Hung was sent to hospital after suffering a heatstroke. He died the next day.
Noting that the high school and vocational high school graduates are the main target of its campaign to recruit volunteer soldiers, the ministry said the peak season for recruitment is June, when students graduate.
The ministry said it will continue to improve military facilities and management and adjust military subsidies to attract more people to enlist.
Hung is believed to have died as a result of punishing exercises he was forced to do while in the brig after he was found to have brought a cellphone with camera features onto the base.
The 24-year-old's case has sparked public outrage over the possible abuse of the serviceman and the flawed disciplinary process that landed him in disciplinary confinement in the first place.
Since Hung's death, the defense ministry has taken a series of steps to try to ease public anger, including clamping down administrative reprimands for more than 30 commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
A military investigation into criminal liability is still underway. One senior officer and three non-commissioned officers have been taken into custody to date.
(By Rogge Chen and Elaine Hou)
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