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MND scraps military’s ‘loving hug’ policy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Defense Minister Lee Tien-yu decided to scrap the military’s “loving hug” policy yesterday after rebuffing a lawmaker’s request to give him a hug at the legislature.

Lee made the decision on the spot during an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan’s National Defense Committee, despite having defended the policy earlier in the day.

Speaking with reporters prior to the interpellation session, Lee said the policy, implemented Oct. 1 at basic training camps for enlisted personnel, had proven effective in terms of alleviating recruits’ feelings of separation and estrangement in their new environment.

Lee claimed that a great majority of enlisted personnel are happy with the policy and that only a minority have expressed dissatisfaction with it, adding that he will make adjustments to the policy.

Under the policy, squad leaders are required to hug each new recruit under his command and utter the words “Brother, I will take care of you,” to which the recruit must respond by saying, “Leader, I respect and love you.”

Lee defended the practice as effective in helping recruits overcome their feelings of fear and unease with their new boot camp environment.

During the interpellation session, Legislator Lin Yu-fang questioned the appropriateness of the practice which, the lawmaker claimed, makes many people feel uncomfortable.

To make his point,the lawmaker asked that the minister demonstrate the “loving hug” by embracing a general who accompanied him to the interpellation session. The minister refused.

Keeping the pressure on him, Legislator Lee Ching-hua offered to give the minister a hug, to which the minister responded by saying that “we are not that close.” He then agreed to scrap the policy altogether.

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