Hundreds of veterans yesterday rallied outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to protest proposed pension cuts, vowing to stage daily marches for the next three months if the government does not abandon its plans.
An estimated 1,500 people participated in the demonstration, called “Marching for the Rights of 800 Heroes,” including military veterans and members of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Huang Fu-hsing (黃復興) branch.
“800 Heroes” refers to the Chinese soldiers who defended the Sihang Warehouse against Japanese troops in October and November 1937 in the Battle of Shanghai. The battle is considered one of the most heroic and symbolic events in the Republic of China (ROC) Army’s history.
“The troops are the first ones the government calls to deal with whatever problems it has and the first to get screwed when it has nothing better to do,” said retired army lieutenant general Wu Chi-liang (吳其樑), who was named the operational commander of the protest.
Unless the government abandons its pension restructuring plans, the protesters will demonstrate daily for three months, Wu said.
The protesters are prepared to offer protracted resistance if the government does not relent after three months, Wu said, without elaborating.
KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) appeared at the demonstration to show his support, saying the demonstration is the veterans’ last resort as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government forces its “unconstitutional” pension bill through the legislature.
Sources said the veterans plan to maintain a continuous protest by pitching tents outside the legislature and marching around the legislature’s premises every day between 11am and 4:30pm.
Retired army lieutenant general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), who stirred up controversy late last year when he attended a state ceremony in Beijing, compared the pension plan to the “Cultural Revolution,” and said the DPP should not “provoke” service members and veterans by “testing our endurance.”
Calling the protest “absurd,” DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) wrote on Facebook: “The 800 Heroes sacrificed themselves for the survival of the nation, whereas those honorless retired generals want to sacrifice the nation’s finances to line their own pockets.”
“Those people who went to China to play golf with People’s Liberation Army [PLA] officers and chant slogans, such as ‘the PLA and the ROC armed forces are both Chinese armies’ ... did an injustice to their comrades in uniform and Taiwanese taxpayers. Their shamelessness knows no bounds,” Wang said.
The Ministry of National Defense issued a statement calling for calm, saying it is still in the process of drafting pension reform plans for the military and that it welcomes the opinions and demands of active and retired troops.
Additional reporting by Aaron Tu
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