Thu, Dec 01, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Pensions a legacy of party-state rule

By Huang Cheng-yi 黃丞儀

Hannah Arendt was famous for noting the "banality of evil" of unquestioning Nazi bureaucrats. She often quoted William Faulkner in her later years: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Perhaps history haunts every person who attempts to answer the question of what constitutes justice.

The recent problem of officials converting years of service to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) into civil service to increase their pensions once again reminds us of this situation.

Let us consider the problem through the following three cases. First, Uncle Chang () is from China. He joined the military at a young age and later moved to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

He worked for the KMT's public service association in Ilan after he retired, and was highly enthusiastic about local affairs. He often donated books bought with his small salary to schools. As he grew old, his former military supervisor arranged for him to work as a cleaner at a recreational ranch of the Cabinet's Veterans Affairs Commission. He officially retired from civil service before the lifting of martial law in 1987. Today he lives on his monthly pension at a "veterans' house."

Auntie Wang () is a native of Yunlin, where her family has run a bakery for several generations. She got married after she graduated from a commercial vocational high school, and she often helped with her husband's business. She became a cadre of the KMT's local women's association thanks to her silver tongue, and she was responsible for secretly monitoring her neighbors. She often informed against them to the party's local chapter, and one neighbor was put into prison because of her. After Taiwan and the US severed diplomatic ties in 1979, she managed to find a place for herself in the county government and worked as a civil servant.

Mr. Lee () is a history professor at a local public university. He actively participated in the KMT's student club during his school years, and became a section chief of the party's chapter for educated youth in northern Taiwan. While studying abroad, he worked concurrently at the party's overseas chapter. After he returned, he worked in the party's archives. He passed the specifically tailored government examination in 1982 and was quickly promoted to vice minister of the Cabinet's National Youth Commission. Since leaving his post, he has served as an associate professor.

According to the Examination Yuan's calculation rule announced in 1971, the years these people spent working at the KMT's party organizations -- including public service associations, women's associations, chapters for educated youth and KMT archives -- could be counted as time spent in the civil service.

This administrative order was temporarily cancelled after martial law was abolished in 1987. But the Examination Yuan's interpretation the next year stated that the new rule was not retroactive.

Therefore, those who shifted from the party to the government before 1987 could still include their years of party service as civil service.

However, according to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, the Examination Yuan's interpretation 17 years ago violated the Civil Servant Retirement Law (公務人員退休法). As Interpretation No. 525 of the Constitutional Court stated, "The expectations of regulations that have been abolished or amended, that materially infringe upon the [original] empowering statutes, are not legitimate and thus shall not be protected."

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