Former president urges pension program review

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, in Miaoli County

Fri, Nov 02, 2012 - Page 3

It will take a complete review and reform of various social insurance and pension programs to resolve their financial difficulties, and high-ranking officials should clearly point out the direction of reform, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said in Miaoli County yesterday.

Speaking to the media during a question-and-answer session, Lee said it would be wrong to individually fix or save financially-challenged pension programs, which have sparked heated public discussion recently.

“It would take a thorough review, planning and reform to adjust those programs altogether,” he said.

“However, it would be difficult because [those programs] concern many government agencies. That is why the people in charge should step forward and clarify a direction so the agencies know what to do next,” he added.

The pension programs and subsidies that favor civil servants, military personnel and state school workers were implemented at a time when their wages were low and when the government’s fiscal situation was healthy, he said.

“But times have changed. And it’s imperative to ensure a fair and just society,” he said, adding that it does not make sense to favor certain groups of people in exchange for holding the reins of government.

The 89-year-old said it is hard to please everyone, but government officials should fully understand the entire system and formulate policies with the public’s points of view and positions in mind.

“Politics serves the people, not the government,” Lee said.

The former president said his one-and-a-half-month year-end bonus was canceled after the Cabinet decided to cut the number of recipients of the subsidy to quell recent controversy, but he held no grudges.

“I’m grateful for everything this country has given me after my retirement,” he said, adding that he hoped Taiwanese would not be self-centred in their approach to the dispute.

On former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) visit to China last month, Lee said that by visiting a country one can better understand it, so Hsieh’s effort should be admired.

However, Lee said he was not sure if Hsieh represented the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the trip and Hsieh’s initiative does not mean the DPP has changed its position toward China.

Lee’s his two-day visit to Miaoli County, is his sixth such trip to various regions of the country after a surgery to remove cancerous tumors from his colon in November last year.