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Elevating the social status of soldiering better than raises

As part of a series of new incentives to boost voluntary service recruitment, Taiwan's Executive Yuan on Thursday approved the military's proposal of a NT$2,000 to NT$4,000 pay raise for volunteer soldiers.

It also approved a hike in subsidies given to military personnel and coastguardsmen who are stationed on outlying islands, which will bring the basic salary for a private in these areas to NT$53,000.

The new salary is almost 2.5 times the basic salary that stands at around NT$19,000 per month.

Other than a significant pay raise, the military also initiated a series of measures to improve the in-base environment so that servicepeople can have a more comfortable and humane living atmosphere.

For instance, soldiers are now allowed to use smartphones in selected military bases, live in their own quarters with air conditioning and sleep off-base more frequently.

It was reported that these measures have seen initial success after 50 people applied to serve on Taiping Island since the change. Taiping is an outlying island controlled by Taiwan in the South China Sea. The number constitutes a significant surge in comparison with the same period last year.

The China Post is pleased to see the incentives have garnered initial success. After all, a relatively higher starting salary will appeal to local youths that are suffering from low monthly pay during a sluggish economy.

However, we believe that these incentives that are apparently launched to meet the demands of the younger generation of Taiwanese have failed to solve the fundamental problem of why very few are willing to join the armed forces as a life-long career: the relatively low social status for servicemen and women.

With the continued thawing of cross-strait ties over the past decade, it is becoming more and more unlikely for an all-out war to break out between Taiwan and China. Therefore, many Taiwanese military personnel have forgotten why they fight and who they are fighting for.

This problem led to a series of scandals that erupted within the military over the past few years, including sexual harassment cases and occasional drunk-driving violations involving military personnel.

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