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Military pension reform bill review stalled due to KMT boycott

2018/04/26 13:38:14

Taipei, April 26 (CNA) A legislative committee review of the government's proposed military pension reform bill was adjourned Thursday due to a boycott by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

Before the beginning of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee review meeting, several ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers sat on the podium in the meeting room in an effort to prevent KMT lawmakers from occupying it and to ensure that the meeting could proceed smoothly as scheduled.

However, when the meeting began, KMT lawmakers forced their way to the front of the podium, shouting "Communication first before a question-and-answer review session," "Ridiculous pension reform" and "Who would take to the streets against a good reform?" They demanded that the Ministry of National Defense submit a certified actuarial report.

The meeting was interrupted for about 10 minutes before DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), the committee convener, called a recess.

About one-and-a-half hours later, Wang announced an adjournment of the review session.

The KMT boycott came one day after a protest organized by the veterans group "800 Warriors" against the military pension reform bill outside the Legislative Yuan turned violent, leaving 84 police officers and 12 reporters injured and leading to the arrest of 57 people for disorderly conduct.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) condemned the violence by the protesters, saying that they attacked not only police but also reporters, which constitutes trampling on democracy. The police authorities will absolutely not tolerate such acts and will bring the perpetrators to justice, Yeh added.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said following the incident that no police or reporters should be injured and that the government will not bow to violence but will continue with its reforms, according to Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺).

The president's goal is to let the military pension reform go into effect July 1, Huang added.

Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said the protesters' disorderly acts will be handled in accordance with the law and the government is considering formulating regulations to punish people who attack the police.

Cabinet Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) also urged the protesters to exercise self-restraint.

Luo Jui-ta (羅睿達), chief executive of the "800 Warriors," said the group has assembled a task force composed of 25-30 members to protect reporters' safety, adding that people participating in the protest should not attack police and should not resort to violence while protesting.

About 2,500 protesters rallied outside the Legislative Yuan that morning to express their views on the military pension reform bill, according to the group.

The bill proposed by the Cabinet April 12 passed its first reading at the Legislative Yuan April 20 and has drawn strong opposition from military retirees, who will see their pensions cut as a result of the measure.

(By Liu Chien-pang, Chen Chun-hua, Liu Lee-jung, Fan Cheng-hsiang and
Evelyn Kao)