Pension protesters vs. Tsai administration

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

President Tsai Ing-wen said violence “would not slow the pace of reform,” after protesters outside the Legislative Yuan physically attacked lawmakers prior to a review of two pension reform bills. Protesters, many of whom camped out on the streets Tuesday night, criticized the government’s use of barbed wire to barricade the Legislative Yuan.

Several demonstrators attacked lawmakers entering the Legislature for the committee review of the two pension reform bills. The protesters also clashed with members of the media, with a news vehicle’s windshield was smashed in the melee.

Government officials attending other legislative committee meetings were also physically confronted by the demonstrators, despite a heavy police presence. Tsai said the violence would “most definitely” be subject to police investigation.

She urged those out on the streets to remain rational and calm, imploring the demonstrators to “give the country a chance … (and) give the next generation a chance.” Tsai said “irrational action” would not earn the demonstrators public support, adding that the intentional fanning of conflicts would not obstruct the government’s determination to carry out reform. The president said the issue at hand had already been fully discussed in public forums, citing the work of the pension reform committee, as well as regional and national conferences and public hearings.

“In my capacity as president, I offer a word of thanks to the civil servants,” Tsai said, adding that their understanding had given the pension reform effort some space to be carried out.

She added that the reform would also give the next generation of civil servants hope for the future. Tsai apologized to those who were affected by the traffic restrictions implemented due to the demonstrations.

The president, citing remarks made by her Vice President Chen Chien-jen before the national pension reform conference in January, said the reforms would not single out any groups or individuals.