Lawmakers yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) for benefiting from preferential interest rates on their pensions and urged the first family to lead by example as part of the administration’s drive to reform preferential treatment of civil servants.
“When Ma criticizes others for receiving preferential treatment, he should look at himself in the mirror,” Democratic Progressive party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference.
Citing property declaration information given by government officials from the Control Yuan, Chen said Ma enjoys an 18 percent interest rate on his pension, a perk given to government officials that has been controversial for years.
Chow, who retired from state-run Mega International Commercial Bank in 2008, also enjoys a 13 percent preferential interest rate that was granted to retirees from state-run banks, and received about NT$1.73 million (US$59,000) in interest, Chen added.
Taking advantage of such benefits does not serve the first family well at a time when the public is resentful of the various special perks given to active or retired civil servants, Chen said.
It is even more hypocritical considering that Ma lambasted former DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for enjoying “unfair” preferential treatment during Ma’s re-election campaign last year, he said.
Tsai gave up the benefits after the attack from Ma’s campaign.
Chen and his colleagues, DPP legislators Pasuya Yao (姚文智) and Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), demanded that Ma donate his salary — one of his campaign promises — give up his one-and-a-half-month bonus and pledge to give up his about NT$3 million year-end bonus after he retires.
Ma should also clarify if he had misrepresented the amount of years he served as a civil servant by adding the years he worked for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to meet the minimum 25 years required to qualify for the preferential interest rates as stipulated by the Civil Service Retirement Act (公務人員退休法), Yao said. Ma had only served 19 years in public service when he retired in 2006.
If Ma had falsely reported his years of service, he will have received a retirement pension of NT$34.68 million, Yao said.
Since the administrative branch has now pledged to conduct a thorough review of various pension programs, the practices of KMT members should be included in the review to determine who, if anyone, added the time they have served in the party to their years as civil servants to receive higher retirement pensions,Yao said.
The DPP’s proposal to review the issue was blocked by the KMT 56 times in the sixth and seventh legislatures, he said.
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