TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) says Taiwan's military works with academic institutions and hi-tech industries to offer better career opportunities for those who have served in the army.
The comment comes in the wake of Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je's (柯文哲) remark that compulsory military service is a waste of time.
Ko left for Israel on Feb. 23 to take part in the 33rd International Mayors Conference. On Sunday he visited Israeli company Mobileye, a subsidiary of Intel Corp. which specializes in vision technology for Advanced Driver Assistance (ADAS) and autonomous driving, and is also a part of the country's military trinity project. He took a ride in the company's self-driving vehicle during the visit.
The mayor was impressed by the new technology and said that Israel's academia-industry-defense alliance helps provide great career opportunities, which also creates an incentive for young people to join the army.
Meanwhile, Ko criticized Taiwan's government for failing to fully utilize resources like Israel does, and not enabling those engaged in mandatory service to pick up useful skills, which leaves many young men in Taiwan feeling like they have wasted their time.
Despite being a small country in the Middle East, Israel is innovating in many ways that make it a successful and efficient country, he added.
The mayor's comments quickly stirred a reaction at home from both ruling Democratic Progressive Party members and Kuomintang councilpersons.
In a legislative briefing session, Yen responded to Ko's remark by saying he has the wrong picture of Taiwan's system, and that a current academia-industry-defense alliance does exist. 277 senior high and vocational schools, as well as 128 universities, have signed agreements with the defense ministry to ensure smooth recruitment for the armed forces, and to equip those wanting to serve in the army with skills particularly needed by the defense industry, including aeronautics, navigation, military medicine, cybersecurity, and chemicals.
Ko is expected to meet with members of the Israeli parliament's Defense Committee during his stay.
During a separate occasion on Monday, when asked by legislators whether the U.S. and Japan will dispatch army personnel to Taiwan if the Communist regime takes the island by force, Yen said the two would step in if their national interests were in danger.