Demonstrators bring traffic to a halt across Taipei

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Thousands of demonstrators paralyzed traffic across Taipei Wednesday, as they protested the government’s efforts to push through reforms to the national pension system. The large-scale and sometimes violent demonstrations came as the Executive Yuan and Examination Yuan prepared to pass separate pension reform bills on Thursday.  Should the Executive Yuan and the Examination Yuan approve the bills, they will be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review and ratification. The protesters — made up of retired military officers, police, firefighters and public servants — were spread out across seven locations. Wednesday morning saw protesters on their knees outside the Taipei National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine. The demonstrators sought to attract the attention of President Tsai Ing-wen and several high-ranking government officials, who were attending an event at the shrine.

Other locations included the Official Residence of the President, the Executive Yuan, Control Yuan, Legislative Yuan, Examination Yuan and the Interior Ministry. Protesters congregated outside the Official Presidential Residence and called for President Tsai to step down. Aside from paralyzing the traffic — some blocking crossroads for Zhongxiao East Road and Zhongshan South Road with their bodies or vehicles — physical scuffles also broke out between them and police officers outside the Executive Yuan. Representatives of the Taiwan Police and Firefighters Alliance, including retired Gen. Wu Shih-huai, handed a petition outlining their demands to the Legislature. The petition was received by the Legislative Yuan’s Deputy Secretary-General Kao Ming-chiu. The demonstrators said in a statement that they hoped that the Legislature would acknowledge their contributions and service to the country, as well as adhere to the “doctrine of legitimate expectation” and ensure enactment of the pension reform changes would only be effective for current public sector workers. Wu said that the government had not carried out any dialogue over the pension reforms and had failed to respond to any of the demands from retired military, personnel police, firefighters and teachers.

He said that while he was aware the protests would draw criticism, the demonstrations were being held “for the good of the nation’s future,” rather than “just for the sake of our own retirement packages.” Beefed-up Security