TAIPEI, Taiwan — Braving the cold rain, anti-pension reform groups took to the streets again on Thursday.
The National Civil Servants Association, which organized the protest, and other groups started their march at the National Police Agency on Zhongxiao East Road at 4 p.m. and headed along Ketagalan Boulevard to the Presidential Office, before making their way to the Executive Yuan, paralyzing traffic along the way.
The association estimated that more than 30,000 people took part in the protest.
Retired general Wu Sze-huai (吳斯懷), one of the protesters, said that although the Executive Yuan has yet to send pension reform proposals for military personnel to the Legislature for review, the military stands with the protesters.
Lee Lai-hsi (李來希), head of the association, said the plan was to stage a sit in outside the Executive Yuan at the end of the march.
“Unless the government responds to our demands, we will not leave,” he said.
Former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) was on hand to lend support, saying that civil servants, public school teachers and military personnel are the backbone of social stability and urging the government to listen to their demands.
A series of draft bills to reform the deficit-ridden pension system for the country’s civil servants and public school teachers are currently being reviewed by the Legislature, on the second day of an extraordinary session which will run through July 5.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said the passage of pension reform is one of the top priorities of the session.
Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said people are free to express their views and the right to march and assemble are enshrined in the Constitution.
However, he also expressed the hope that the legislature will pass related pension reform bills as soon as possible.