Military should protect nation’s ships: legislators
By Shelley Shan and Rich Chang / Staff reporters
Lawmakers at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday
urged the government to deploy military vessels to protect Taiwanese commercial
ships against harassment.
The committee was scheduled to review an amendment the Shipping Act (航業法) that
would allow shipping firms to hire private armed security guards to protect
commercial ships when they operate in international waters.
At the meeting, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih
(葉匡時) was invited to answer questions from lawmakers.
Despite the amendment having been proposed before the killing of a Taiwanese
fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel last week, lawmakers nevertheless
made reference to the fatal shooting in their deliberations.
Several lawmakers said the actions of the the Philippines was “no different from
those of pirates.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said he did
not oppose the amendment, but said that the Ministry of National Defense should
also deploy navy ships to guard ships registered in Taiwan.
As an example, Tsai cited the South Korean navy’s storming of a cargo ship
seized by pirates in the Arabian Sea last year, rescuing eight South Koreans,
two Indonesians and 11 Burmese onboard. The rescue team also killed eight
pirates and captured five others.
“Why did South Korea do that? Because it knows it needs to fight back so that
they will not be bullied,” Tsai said. “Pirates are more likely to rob Taiwan’s
ships because they know the Taiwanese government would never come to their
rescue. We are not asking for wars, but for keeping the peace by threatening the
use of force.”
“We have begged and pleaded with the Philippines to negotiate over fishery
rights [between the two countries],” Tsai said. “This amendment, to a certain
extent, is a mockery of the navy. It is like saying that we are passing a law to
allow people to hire mercenaries so that they can protect themselves.”
Yeh disagreed that the amendment showed that Taiwan was weak in terms of
“Pirates generally operate off the coast of East Africa,” Yeh said. “We had
thought about sending military vessels to protect our ships there, but the EU
voiced its opposition to the move. The cost of such measures, if implemented,
would be too high. We would have to conduct more research for such a scenario to
Separately yesterday, a Kidd-class destroyer and a Lafayette-class frigate
departed for joint operations with Coast Guard Administration vessels near the
temporary law enforcement line in waters between Taiwan and the Philippines
The two warships departed at 3:30pm from Kaohsiung military harbors and are set
to meet a Cheng Kung-class frigate and another Lafayette-class frigate, as well
as other coast guard vessels, the military said.
The joint military exercises are set to take place between 8am and 4pm and
include air defense and anti-sea attack operations, it added.
The Ministry of National Defense made the decision to send the navy’s most
advanced warship yesterday morning after the government announced that Manila’s
response to the ultimatum was unsatisfactory.
The operation is aimed at showing the nation’s determination to protect
Taiwanese fishing boats, the ministry said.
Two F-16 aircraft, two Indigenous Defensive Fighters (IDF), several S-70c
helicopters and E-2K early-warning aircraft will also join the operation, the