Heavy police presence ahead of military pension cut protest

Taipei, About 1,200 police officers were deployed around the Legislative Yuan compound Wednesday ahead of a planned protest against a military pension reform bill that was to be reviewed by a legislative committee.

The bill proposed by the Cabinet on April 12 passed its first reading at the Legislature on April 20 and completed a question-and-answer session before the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Monday.

The next step was for the committee to conduct a line-by-line review of the bill on Wednesday and Thursday, but the review was slowed Wednesday morning because of the obstruction of opposition Kuomintang lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Wu Chi-liang (???), the head of the veterans group "800 Warriors" that opposes the bill, said on his Facebook page that the group planned to gather military veterans outside the Legislature on Wednesday afternoon to protest what he called "the wrong reform bill."

The proposal would cut the pensions of many military veterans and retirees, something the government argues is necessary because the military pension fund will soon go bankrupt.

Members of the group also said they have mobilized veterans from northern, central and southern Taiwan to join the rally.

Aside from deploying 1,200 police officers to the site, the police also erected barricades around the Legislature to maintain order, and traffic controls were imposed on roads in the area.

Interior Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong (???) said before the bill's scheduled review that the police will ensure people's freedom of expression in discharging their duties, saying they will enforce the law based on the principle of proportionality.

He warned the protesters to refrain from breaking the law or endangering the safety of others, as occurred in a previous protest by the "800 Warriors" outside the Legislature on April 25.

That protest turned violent and left 68 police officers and 14 reporters injured.

In the wake of the incident, Luo Jui-ta (???), chief executive of the "800 Warriors," said the group has set up a special press area and issued press cards to keep journalists safe and also assigned 30 of the group's members wearing wear orange vests to help the media do its job.

By adopting these measures, the group hopes that the incidents that occurred on April 25 will not be repeated and that the protest will not lose its focus.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel