Thousands Ready for Weekend Pension Reform Protest in Taipei

Thousands Ready for Weekend Pension Reform Protest in Taipei
Photo Credit: 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen
What you need to know

Organizers of Saturday's protest estimate that as many as 100,000 military veterans, retired civil servants and public school teachers could take part in the event.

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Veterans, retired civil servants and public school teachers are set to take to the streets on Taiwan’s Armed Forces Day on Sept. 3 to protest the handling of pension reform in Taiwan.

The Pension Reform Oversight Coalition (監督年金改革行動聯盟), which is organizing the protest, hopes to mobilize up to 100,000 people to gather at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei and march up Ketagalan Boulevard near the Presidential Office.

The organizers believe the government, media, and the public have vilified public officials by claiming that veterans, civil servants and public school teachers are the reason that pension funds are going into deficit.

National Civil Service Association (NCSA) Director Harry Lee (李來希) told the pro-KMT China Post that the government should “respect the dignity” of its retirees when planning pension reforms.

The government has attempted to keep the movement at bay. It has proposed separating military pensions from those of civil servants and teachers, as well as announcing on Aug. 29 that 124,000 retired public officials will receive up to NT$37,500 (US$1,200) in year-end relief payments.

In her address to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Central Standing Committee on Aug. 31, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also said reform would not target any specific group, but instead guarantee a stable retirement for the next generation, the Chinese-language United Daily News reports.

Proposals for pension reform have been in deliberation since the Bureau of Labor Insurance released a report in 2012 forecasting that pension funds for veterans, civil servants, and public school teachers would be bankrupt by 2018, 2029, and 2027 respectively.

The Examination Yuan’s proposal for reform was sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation in 2013. That plan focused on lowering preferential interest rates from 18% to 7% on the pensions of veterans, civil servants and public school teachers, and increasing labor insurance premiums from 8% to 19.5% over a period of 23 years. The proposal was shelved after the Kuomintang (KMT) and the DPP could not agree on the changes.

Pension reforms were at the forefront of Tsai’s inauguration speech on May 20. She reiterated that if the pension system was not reformed, the respective funds would go bankrupt.

The Tsai administration’s Pension Reform Committee (年金改革委員會) was formed on June 1 and have held ten meetings but have yet to come up with solid plans for reform. In a statement on Aug. 27 the Committee said it plans to go into proper discussions on the pension fund by the 11th meeting.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole