Fri, Feb 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

VAC denies trying to influence veterans over election

CNA , TAIPEI

The head of the Veterans Affairs Commission denied yesterday that the commission, on orders from the Executive Yuan, has told retired servicemen to participate in the March 20 referendum.

Commission chairman Teng Tsu-lin (鄧祖琳) told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's National Defense Committee that the commission is completely neutral and the Cabinet has not asked it to promote participation in the referendum among veterans.

Teng also denied that the commission has used administrative resources to drum up support for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election.

Teng made the remarks in response to questions raised by People First Party (PFP) legislators Chin Hui-chu (秦慧珠) and Ku Chung-lien (顧崇廉) about rumors the commission intended to influence veterans' voting decisions.

The lawmakers also expressed concern that elderly veterans would have trouble casting three ballots without some confusion.

Teng said that he is confident that the veterans, despite being elderly, will have no problems and will choose wisely.

"Our veterans have a great deal of common sense and they are well informed from watching TV and reading newspapers," Teng said.

In related news, Teng told the committee that the government is not suspending the monthly pensions of veterans who have settled in China.

He said the government is continuing to pay pensions to the 5,514 veterans who are now living in China but have not applied for resident status or a passport from the PRC.

The Examination Yuan recently passed a regulation stipulating that retired servicemen, civil servants and school teachers will have to receive their retirement pensions in one lump sum rather than in monthly payments if they reside in China.

If they don't apply for a lump-sum payment, they may risk having their pensions withheld.

The commission has assigned personnel to China on a yearly basis to check whether veterans residing there have received ID cards issued by Beijing, Teng said.

He added that commission officials had been relieved to find that none of veteran s in China had accepted Chinese identification papers.

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