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Thousands of protesters rally in Taipei against pension reforms

2017/01/22 19:01:42

Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) Tens of thousands of protesters staged a sit-in protest on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei on Sunday amid a pension reform conference that was held at the Presidential Office.

The Alliance for Monitoring Pension Reform -- a coalition of retired and incumbent military personnel, public servants and teachers -- said that over 30,000 people attended the rally to express their anger over the government's failure to invite them for discussions before putting forth its reform plan.

The protesters slammed the conference, saying that it was time for them to speak out, while a number of people near the Jingfu Gate vented their anger toward the government by tossing ghost money and shouting for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to step down.

Alliance convener Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) said the members have been taking turns in a hunger strike for more than 96 hours, and that none of the alliance members were invited to the conference.

Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who joined the protesters, said she was disheartened to learn that there were people on hunger strike.

Hung criticized the government for trying to rush the reform proposal, saying that it purposely left no room for those involved to participate in the talks.

"The government cannot just simply do anything however it wants," she said.

Meanwhile, in an earlier report, KMT Legislator Chen Yi-min (陳宜民) called on the government to organize at least five public hearings before drafting out future pension reforms.

"The government needs to apologize to the people for their hasty proposal," Chen said, adding that it will need to first hire experts to study and manage the country's pension affairs.

According to Huang, the group applied for a permit to rally on Ketagalan Boulevard and Zhongshan South Road and a stage was being set up near the Jingfu Gate with a big screen. He said having protesters "pass by" the Presidential Office later in the evening remained a possibility.

The national conference on pension reform was aired live online. The conclusions reached by the conference will serve as the basis for drafting amendments to the law, which will then be submitted by the Executive Yuan and the Examination Yuan to the Legislature at a later date.

(By Claudia Liu, Wang Yang-yu, and Ko Lin)
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