23,000 military personnel punished in 2012: report
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, July 29 (CNA) A total of 23,000 military personnel in Taiwan were punished in 2012 due to violations including drunk driving and drug offenses, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.
The report came as Kao Hua-chu, the minister of national defense, was being replaced Monday over the suspicious death of an Army corporal that has sparked an outcry over an apparent abuse of power in the Taiwanese military and a call for reform of the military's legal system.
Hung Chung-chiu, 24, died on July 4 after collapsing from heatstroke. He was forced to do strenuous exercises in extreme heat and humidity as part of his punishment while he was wrongfully confined in a military brig for bringing a camera-equipped cellphone onto his base.
Luo Shou-he, the spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND), said that the MND has stepped up reinforcement of military discipline in recent years as the Army, the Navy and the Air Force had revised their administrative punishment regulations based on the Armed Force Punishment Act.
The move was aimed at imposing stricter punishment for those who violate rules and increasing the accountability of superiors and managers. As a result, the number of military personnel subjected to punishment has surged sharply, he said.
In 2012, a total of 23,000 military personnel got administrative punishments, including getting demerits or admonishments. That figure accounted for 11 percent of the estimated total of 210,000 military personnel in Taiwan. The ratio was higher than that of the past few years.
A large number of military personnel were punished for drunk driving and drug offenses, with 520 people involved in drunk driving offenses over the past three years, while 113 were involved in drug problems in 2011 and 119 in 2012. The figures have been on the rise, according to the report.
(By Su Lung-chi, Chen Pei-huang and Y.L. Kao)
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