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Military defends KMT city councilor's invite to participate in TV show

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday said it has always remained politically neutral amid accusations that the military has violated the law by inviting a ruling party city councilor to participate in an MND-organized TV show.

During a legislative hearing yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) accused the MND of violating administrative neutrality by having ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Tai Hsi-chin (戴錫欽) as a guest on the military's educational TV program Chukuang Garden (莒光園地) that aired last Thursday.

Tsai noted that the MND's move was highly inappropriate, as it is in the middle of the KMT's primaries for city councilors.

Having Tai join the show, which is a must-see for all military personnel, could mean that the MND is electioneering for the KMT candidate on national television, the DPP lawmaker said at a hearing at the Legislature's National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.

Tsai further noted that the TV program, in which Tai discussed the controversial Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, was biased because the program spread negative views about the student-led protest against the pact. Protesters are demanding that the government scarp the agreement.

In response, Deputy Defense Minister Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙) said the show was meant only as an open debate in which people with differing opinions on the trade pact could engage in healthy discussions about Taiwan's economic future.

Fielding questions at the same hearing, MND's Political Warfare Department Director-General Wang Ming-wo (王明我) said the program aimed to put emphasis on the importance of finding a balance between democracy and rule of law.

After another DPP lawmaker asked who made the decision to invite Tai to the TV show, Wang responded that the decision was made by the show's producer.

He stressed that the show is an educational platform for all R.O.C. military personnel, and the ministry has no intention to denigrate the student-led protest or to intervene in the ongoing KMT primaries for city councilors.

The committee later passed a non-binding resolution demanding the MND to conduct a review over the incident and to levy punishment within one week to those who invited the KMT city councilor to the show.

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