Thu, Nov 15, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Ma turns down call for pension meet

REQUEST DENIED:The Presidential Office refused the suggestion, made by the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen, saying it was not an appropriate way to resolve the pension funds issue

By Peng Hsien-chun, Huang Wei-chu and Rich Chang  /  Staff reporters

The Presidential Office yesterday declined former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) call for the president to hold a national affairs conference to discuss problems related to the various pension programs, saying that pension issues are being taken care of by the executive and legislative branches.

Defending its rejection of the call to discuss ways to resolve the funds’ fiscal problems, the Presidential Office said that such conferences were mostly held before the maturation of a nation’s constitutional system, as they required lengthy preparation and their conclusions had to be finalized by the executive and legislative branches.

If a similar meeting was held in line with the systems of the two branches, it could solicit myriad opinions from all sectors of society, as a state affairs meeting would, the office said.

However, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) invited Tsai to visit him to discuss matters of mutual concern, the office added, adding that Ma is also willing to meet with DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

An anonymous source also quoted Ma, who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, as saying during a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday that issues pertaining to the various pension systems were complicated and had to be addressed pragmatically.

“Opinions voiced by various civil groups could be included into legislative meetings via the holding of public hearings. Since the legislature is now dominated by various political party caucuses, we should respect the constitutional system and facilitate communications within the system,” the source quoted Ma as saying.

In response, Tsai yesterday said that she does not understand what the Presidential Office means by “within the government system.”

She said that despite the controversy stirred by the pension system for retired government workers, the legislature could not reach a consensus and the executive branch was unwilling to shoulder responsibility for the matter. Solving the issue will require bringing society together and the president should not evade his duty, she added.

Saying that her proposal has met with a positive response from the public, Tsai said she will visit Su, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and others, for their opinions.

“It’s time for us to go back to rational policy discussion without being divided by party ideology,” she said.

The DPP’s Central Standing Committee yesterday passed a resolution calling on Ma to hold a national affairs conference.

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