Government readies for massive protest against pension plan

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Around 30,000 demonstrators are expected to protest against pension reform outside the Presidential Palace on Sunday morning, according to a pension reform supervision action alliance.

Lee Lai-hsi, deputy convener of the alliance, said Saturday morning that demonstrators would gather on the Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Palace at 2 p.m. Sunday so as not to affect a large year-end lunch event hosted by the government for homeless people.

Nevertheless, Lee said that there would be protesters outside the Presidential Palace to “welcome President Tsai Ing-wen” at 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

In addition, a hunger strike initiated by alliance organizer Huang Yao-nan on Jan. 16 to protest unreasonable pension reforms would continue in front of the Legislative Yuan, the alliance said.

President Tsai to open conference To avoid clashes, police in Taipei employed traffic control measures, set up control areas and established roadblocks on Friday night to prevent protesters from accessing the Presidential Palace.

As many as 2,000 policemen are set to be deployed.

The national conference on pension reform will open at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, with President Tsai to speak at the opening session and Vice President Chen Chien-jen to deliver a report on the pension reform packages, according to Central News Agency (CNA). Panel Discussions A panel discussion will follow the conference, with 24 representatives from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party — including 18 lawmakers — along with two representatives each from the opposition Kuomintang, New Power Party and People First Party parties. The first panel will focus discussions on the qualifications of pension recipients, the second on pension fund sourcing and management, and the third on a framework for pension systems, system transfer and special recipients.

The conference is slated to finish at 7:00 p.m. after the panels report their conclusions. ‘No consensus’ The CNA quoted KMT Lawmaker Tseng Ming-chung as saying that the entire pension system involved contingent liabilities of up to NT$17.6 trillion, and therefore pension reform was a “must-do job.”

But the formality of public hearings held by the government and the resultant “serious lack of sufficient communications with all the related sectors” had “led to no consensuses on the reforms,” Tseng said. Lawmaker Lee Hung-chun of the People First Party said that the government could not mix the insurance pension with the retirement pension, and should establish a livelihood security system for the elderly and introduce various fund sourcing projects instead of caring only about the reform on pension distribution.

When reached by the CNA, DPP lawmaker Liu Shih-fang said that the party’s lawmakers assigned to attend the national conference had their respective job allocations. She declined to reveal the details of the allocation.