President Tsai Ing-wen is encouraging soldiers to wear their uniforms when they go out to have fun with friends and family on Armed Forces Day on Sept. 3 to help restore the military's self-esteem.
"The military needs applause," Tsai said at a closed-door meeting at the Presidential Office on Monday with representatives of civil groups and private enterprises that have contributed to the planning of this year's Armed Forces Day celebrations.
Tsai said military personnel have taken to wearing civilian clothes when leaving their bases, even when being taken to hospitals, and called such behavior an "over-correction," according to a statement released by the Presidential Office on the Monday meeting.
She encouraged soldiers to "be in uniform on Sept. 3 when they go out to shop with family members and girlfriends or boyfriends," Tsai said.
"Wearing their uniforms and bravely walking toward society and the people and having the public welcome them with open arms is the first step toward the military winning back its dignity," Tsai was quoted as saying.
The military's image has been tarnished in recent months in a series of incidents, including soldiers abusing and hanging a dog in late June and a petty officer mistakenly launching a missile in early July that killed a fisherman.
Several activities, including open houses at various military bases, have been planned for Armed Forces Day to rebuild the military's reputation.
At the meeting, the president thanked military-friendly enterprises for planning discounts and other preferential treatment to military personnel on Sept. 3, calling the actions the "most straightforward and practical support for the military."
She also thanked the Friends of Armed Forces Associations for their long-term support of soldiers and their family members and their efforts to cement contacts between military personnel and civilians.
The business representatives attending the meeting with Tsai included I-Mei Foods Chairman Henry Kao (???), McDonald's Taiwan managing director Chen Wen-yuan (???), and Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei Chairman John Huang (???), the Presidential Office said.
Source: Focus Taiwan