Tue, Feb 03, 2015 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: KMT stalling on pension reform

The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics reported recently that real average wages in Taiwan between January and November last year regressed to what they were 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, in the legislature, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is blocking the Democratic Progressive Party’s proposal to remove the 18 percent preferential interest rate for military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers, educational subsidies for the children of retired civil servants, the year-end bonus for retired public-sector employees, as well as water and electricity subsidies for retired military personnel.

It shows that despite its defeats in last year’s nine-in-one local elections, the KMT is still incapable of self-reflection and remains indifferent to the unjust distribution of social welfare. Once again, the KMT is just paying lip service to reform.

People generally think that the reasons for the KMT’s losses in last year’s elections are the widening wealth gap, collusion between politicians and businesses, unjust distribution of welfare and large increases in commodity and housing prices. What causes the most resentment among a large part of the public is that the distribution of national resources for a long time has favored military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers, while forsaking the rights and interests of private-sector workers, and their resentment was reflected in the election results.

Therefore, if the KMT is serious about correcting its mistakes, it should re-examine the social welfare and social security systems, and completely reform the unjust pension system, thereby rescuing the party from continuing to fall apart, while mending gaps to create a fairer society.

Unfortunately, the KMT has clearly misinterpreted the reason for its losses. It thought it was because the party’s most loyal supporters had begun to waver and were reluctant to come out to vote. Its supporters began to waver because of the decreased retirement benefits for military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers, such as the termination of the year-end bonus for some retired government employees. This angered these groups and cost the KMT a lot of votes.

Amazingly, the conclusion drawn by the KMT ran counter to public opinion, as the KMT decided that not only should it stop reforming pensions for military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers, it should reinforce the protection of these benefits. Therefore it decided to lower the threshold for the year-end bonus for these public-sector workers.

The idea that these groups make up the pan-blue camp’s diehard supporters is a myth. Most of them are not so corrupt that they would become a voting machine for the KMT just to receive exceptional benefits. The only people really benefiting from this idea are the few elected representatives with a military background. They take advantage of this myth to hijack the KMT and prevent it from reforming itself into a party that is fair. This myth is similar to the party assets myth. The ultimate resolution and destinies for both will be basically the same.

The KMT came to Taiwan empty-handed. Its accumulated party assets are the result of assets taken over from Japan when it left Taiwan in 1945, appropriating or seizing private property, controlling the legislature to pass laws transferring assets as gifts to the party, turning the national treasury into the KMT treasury and running monopolies. Some of these means might be “legal,” but they are not legitimate. However silver-tongued the party is, one day its assets will be returned to the public.

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