The China Post news staff
The government has finally decided to take a stronger stance on draft-dodgers by creating new legislation stipulating that all men who are obliged to serve in the military can no longer delay their service under the pretext of studying. A recently passed amendment to the Conscription Law has stipulated that eligible conscripts can no longer avoid the required military service by prolonging their studies after the age of 28.
The amendment is reportedly targeted at a number of male celebrities who were suspected of avoiding military service by prolonging their studies. Some of the male celebrities are reaching their 30s, yet they cannot be drafted due to their “student” status. The latest policy means many big stars, including two of the most famous local male idols, Matthew Lin (明道) and Ethan Ruan (阮經天), will soon be asked to serve in the military. We believe it is good news that related authorities finally decided to get tough on the controversial issue that has been plaguing the image of the military and these male stars for years. The concrete move has sent a clear message that all are equal before the law and that it makes no difference whether or not you are famous. However, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) made a strange and questionable move following the passage of the amendment. The MND proposed to ask these male idols who were previously suspected of dodging military service to help recruit voluntary soldiers in the future. Speaking at a question-and-answer session in the Legislative Yuan earlier this month, Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) said the MND could ask these celebrities to serve as ambassadors during their service to attract more youths to choose the military as a life-long career as the country is pushing toward an all-voluntary service system by 2014. This highly questionable proposal, however, would not help to boost the military’s ongoing recruitment of voluntary soldiers given that it is unlikely that anyone would join the armed forces if these alleged draft-dodgers are serving as ambassadors to promote the scheme. As put by ruling Kuomintang lawmaker Lin Yu-fang, who called the decision “ridiculous,” the military’s proposal to ask those who intentionally delay their service to promote voluntary service would only have the opposite effect.