Tue, Nov 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Military retirees demand pension talks

MISUNDERSTANDING:A Cabinet official said today’s announcement would not be a draft proposal as reported, but a set of principles for revising the pension system

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Retired military personnel yesterday gather outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei to demand that Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i open negotiations on pension reform.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

About 1,000 retired military personnel yesterday gathered in front of the Executive Yuan in Taipei to call on Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億) to negotiate a pension reform proposal with them before announcing it.

The Presidential Office’s Pension Reform Committee was expected to announce a proposal to reform military pensions at a news conference today, officials with knowledge of the matter said on Saturday.

The 800 Heroes group of veterans opposed to pension reform responded by announcing it would stage a protest yesterday to demand an explanation from Lin.

In a meeting at the Executive Yuan on May 11, Lin said he would communicate with veterans before submitting a reform proposal to the Cabinet and the Ministry of National Defense, said 800 Heroes operational commander Wu Chi-liang (吳其樑), a retired army lieutenant general.

However, Lin broke his promise by not collecting their opinions, Wu said.

The reform process has violated the principle of legitimate expectation, because pensioners under the old system would be affected by the new scheme, he added.

Members of the group have camped outside the Legislative Yuan for 266 days to protest against pension reform, he said.

At about 11am yesterday, police told the group that an official from the reform committee would meet them, but no one showed up, 800 Heroes convener Wang Chung-yi (王忠義) said.

Angered by the no-show, some protesters started a sit-in on a crosswalk at the intersection of Zhongshan S Road and Zhongxiao E Road in front of the Control Yuan, blocking traffic for about two hours.

Additional police were brought in to surround those taking part in the sit-in, with minor clashes occasionally breaking out between the two sides.

Some retirees shouted “Our today is your tomorrow” and “One day you will become retirees like us” at police.

The sit-in was called off at about 2pm, after Cabinet officials promised to meet with the group.

The group is to march on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei today, but more radical actions that had been planned would be canceled, Wang said by telephone at about 5pm.

Protesters led by retired army lieutenant general Wu Chi-liang (吳其樑) met with Cabinet Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) yesterday evening about their objections to the Cabinet’s planned announcement of a draft pension reform proposal without first communicating with the veterans.

Protesters reached an understanding with the Cabinet, with Wu being reassured that members of 800 Heroes would be included in the negotiations, and that the announcement to be made today is a set of revision principles of the pension system, rather than a final draft amendment.

Cho said there would be a month of negotiations after the ministry makes the announcement, and the ministry and the Veterans Affairs Council would set up communication channels to facilitate negotiations.

“The ministry will not begin the legislative process until the end [of a one-month negotiation period],” Cho said, adding that a draft reform proposal has yet to be proposed.

Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that today’s announcement is not about a draft proposal as some media outlets reported, which led to a misunderstanding about the government’s reform agenda.

Additional reporting by Chen Wei-han

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