Huge fight caught on tape in Taiwan's legislature

Huge fight caught on tape in Taiwan's legislature
By: Heartland News

Rival lawmakers exchanged punches, climbed on each other's shoulders and jostled violently for position around the speaker's dais on Tuesday, as Taiwan's Legislature dissolved into chaos over an electoral reform bill.
The scenes recalled past legislative brawls in Taiwan, which began a gradual transition from dictatorship to democracy in 1987, and remains riven by passionate in-fighting between its two major political blocs.
Tuesday's trouble broke out when more than two dozen lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party surrounded the dais in an attempt to prevent Wang Jin-pyng of the main opposition Nationalist Party from speaking. The DPP says that Wang has abused his position as Legislative Speaker to block consideration of Taiwan's 2007 budget, which has remained in limbo over a Nationalist demand that a bill to reconstitute the island's electoral commission be passed first.
The Nationalists and their allies hold a slim majority in the 219-seat legislature. Responding to the DPP's move against Wang, dozens of Nationalist lawmakers charged the DPP wall, pushing, shoving and exchanging blows with their rivals.
Lawmakers from the two factions climbed on each other's shoulders in a desperate attempt to gain advantage in scenes that were probably more appropriate for unregulated rugby scrums. During the melee a small group of police stood by without intervening. At least one lawmaker, the Nationalists' Jiang Yi-hsiung, was taken to a nearby hospital for examination after sustaining what appeared to be a minor injury to his forehead. Another DPP lawmaker, a woman, was shown by local TV stations tending to cuts on one of her arms.
Taiwan's legislature has had a reputation for violent incidents ever since the dismantling of martial law in 1987. The last major brawl broke out in January, also over Nationalist attempts to change the composition of the Central Election Commission so it reflects the parties' legislative representations. At present, members of the commission are nominated by the government and approved by the president. The opposition called the commission's impartiality into question amid months of legal wrangling following President Chen Shui-bian's narrow victory in the 2004 presidential election.