Taipei--Veteran groups, led by retired general Wu Sze-huai (???), began a sit-in in front of the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday to express their dissatisfaction with the government's proposed reforms of the country's pension system.
The protest, dubbed "800 Men Defending Rights and Interests," will last at least one month, with different class graduates from various military academies mobilizing, with a minimum of 20 participants every day, according to Wu.
Starting today a total of 800 participants will be mobilized to protest in front of the Legislative Yuan, to "lay siege everyday" for at least one month, Wu said.
The protesters, supported by the Pension Reform Oversight Alliance, blasted the government for seeking to introduce a "block-style" reform of the military pension system and adopting the principle of retroactivity to determine their pension entitlements.
"Such an approach damages the state mechanism and its foundations," some of the protesters argued, expressing their determination to fight for the legitimate rights of those who served in the military.
The high-profile sit-in won the support of Hau Lung-bin (???), a vice chairman of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) who is running for the party chairmanship, as well as that of KMT lawmakers Liao Kuo-tung (???) and Wang Yu-cheng (???).
Visiting the sit-in, Hau urged President Tsai Ing-wen (???) to focus on the real problems of the pension system.
The actual problem is that economic growth is too low to increase incomes, the birth rate is too low to stop the population from aging which increases the burden of retirement care, and pension fund management is too inefficient to increase the earnings of those funds, Hau said.
The former Taipei major urged the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to address these problems, suggesting that failure to do so would reduce pension reforms to nothing more than a "con."
In response to the protest, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) asked protesters to remain calm over the planned reforms.
While a draft plan has not yet been finalized, the ministry will do whatever it can to secure the rights of veterans at national pension reform meetings, MND spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (???) said.
Meanwhile, Lee Shying-jow (???), head of the Cabinet-level Veterans Affairs Commission, called on the Pension Reform Committee under the Presidential Office to present a rational and complete proposal for pension reform, which he said must address the unique position of soldiers.
The MND is still working on a reform plan for military personnel, Lee said.
Commenting on the sit-in by veterans, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (???) said Taiwan is a democratic country where people are free to express their opinions on government reform plans.
"The government welcomes different opinions," Huang said.
Pension reform is a key policy of the Tsai administration, which sees it as the only way to prevent funds that support the country's pension system from going bankrupt over the next few decades.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel