Army discipline drive
By WILLY WO-LAP LAM
THE People's Liberation Army is trying to further tighten internal discipline.
The draft Regulations on Punishing Errant Military Personnel being deliberated by the National People's Congress include the death penalty for organisers of mutinies and rebellions.
Army experts pointed out yesterday the move reflected Beijing's anxiety to ensure troop loyalty in the transition to the post-Deng Xiaoping order.
They said it was indicative of residual problems of discipline, which manifested themselves in the PLA leadership's failure to impose a uniform line during the June 4, 1989, crisis.
In presenting the draft regulations to the National People's Congress yesterday, Chief Political Commissar Yu Yongbo pointed out that they covered four areas of crimes and dereliction of duty.
They included endangering national defence safety, obstructing order in the conduct of warfare, adversely affecting combat power, and obstructing troop management.
The rules provide for the death penalty, life imprisonment and prison terms of more than 10 years for organisers of and key players in mutinies and rebellions.
Officers and soldiers found guilty of serious cases of leakage of military secrets could get life imprisonment or jail terms of more than seven years.
Those who disobeyed orders in the course of war would be penalised with jail terms of four to nine years.
General Yu pointed out the regulations would more effectively punish and prevent crimes and dereliction of duty in the process 'consolidating combat power and maintaining the country's military interests'.
He did not mention the penalty for failure to discharge duty when the PLA was involved in a domestic operation such as quelling an insurrection.
Internal party documents showed that during the PLA's effort to combat the so-called 'counter-revolutionary rebellion' in 1989, more than 1,000 officers and soldiers refused to take orders.
Army sources said under orders from President Jiang Zemin, who is also commission chairman, the PLA had already tightened discipline in the past two years.
For example, during specialised training sessions such as those on ideology and political work, officers and troops are totally sealed off from the outside world.
The General Political Department has also increased the intensity of security checks.
The sources said while the regulations would be passed by the National People's Congress, military courts and other PLA disciplinary organs would have sole responsibility for dealing with errant army personnel.
General Yu said yesterday the PLA had examined similar regulations in foreign countries before drafting the regulations.