Mon, Feb 05, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Veterans’ group rejects proposed pension ‘floor’

CONVENIENT LEAK?A plan to raise the minimum income norm for military retirees was criticized by veterans as still being too close to the poverty line

By Lin Liang-sheng and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Retired lieutenant general and 800 Heroes group spokesman Wu Sz-huai addresses the media in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The 800 Heroes group of veterans opposed to pension reforms yesterday rejected a leaked plan by the Pension Reform Committee to raise the pension floor for military veterans, calling it a “trick” and “unreasonable.”

An unnamed official from the Ministry of National Defense on Saturday was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying that the ministry, the Pension Reform Committee and other parties have reached a consensus to raise the pension floor for military personnel to NT$37,850 — more than the NT$32,160 minimum for civil servants and public-school teachers.

The logic behind the pension floor design is seriously flawed, said retired lieutenant general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), a spokesperson for the veterans’ group.

The proposal asks everyone to suffer together to confront the burden of an incapable government and a poor economy, Wu said yesterday at a members’ meeting of a joint association of civil servants, public-school teachers, police officers, military personnel and retirees.

“Is there also a ‘floor’ for sacrificing our lives for the nation?” Wu asked.

On the surface, the committee recognized the uniqueness of military occupations by raising the so-called “floor” for military pensions by a small amount, Wu said.

However, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has made a serious mistake, he said

Sacrificing one’s life for the nation is apparently only worth NT$37,850 per month, as pensions exceeding that amount would be cut and the higher a person’s military rank, the more their salary would be cut, he said, adding that no country in the world treats its soldiers in this fashion.

If a country has no integrity, its military will not be loyal, he added.

Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億), who is the executive director of the committee, publicly promised that there would be communication and negotiations with retired military personnel before the ministry would send out a draft proposal for pension reform tailored to the military, Wu said.

However, to this day, no government agency has communicated with military retirees’ representatives, he said.

The government is using the old tactic of leaking information to the media in an attempt to pass the proposal by force, Wu said, adding that it is using a “terrible illusion” — the pension floor — to trick people.

What retired veterans receive is “retirement benefits and not pension, so there should not be a floor,” retired lieutenant general Hu Chu-sheng (胡筑生) said yesterday, adding that it is impossible to evaluate the draft proposal simply by looking at the pension floor.

A raised pension floor would be better than what civil servants are to receive, but the proposed floor would still be very close to the poverty line and it is unreasonable, he said.

Retired veterans would keep insisting on the doctrine of legitimate expectation and the principle nulla poena sine lege, or “no penalty without a law,” Hu said.

The 800 Heroes have been protesting on the streets for nearly a year and the Tsai administration should not underestimate its unity and ability to act, Wu said.

If the government publicly geneges on its promises, does whatever it pleases and does not genuinely communicate with the group, barricades and protests will become the new normal on the streets, Wu said.

If the government pushes retired soldiers over the edge, it must bear the consequences, he said.

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