Taiwanese Parliament Erupts in Chaos Amid Legislative Power Struggle

Tue May 21 2024
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TAIPEI, Taiwan: Taiwanese lawmakers clashed on Tuesday during a turbulent parliamentary session, underlining the difficulties facing newly appointed President Lai Ching-te. The session quickly descended into chaos, reflecting deep political divisions.

Just a day after Lai’s inauguration, the session was marked by politicians from both sides brandishing protest signs and engaging in heated arguments.

“Today is (President Lai’s) second day in office. If there’s another conflict in parliament how can we explain this?” questioned Han Kuo-yu, the parliamentary speaker from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party.

Lawmakers from Lai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which was unable to win a parliamentary majority following the January elections, said, “Shut up!” The KMT and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) form an antagonistic coalition against the DPP.

The opposition alliance has proposed bills to expand the powers of the legislature, which the DPP argues are being pushed through without proper consultation. Following a brawl in parliament on Friday over the issue, Tuesday’s session resumed with DPP members unveiling a giant banner reading “No to power expansion”.

“I feel like I am in China’s National People’s Congress… the measures proposed by the KMT are actually selling out the country,” declared DPP’s Ker Chien-ming. Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, waved placards reading “Parliament needs reform”.

Among the proposed bills, the most contentious is a “contempt of parliament” offense, which would criminalize officials who refuse to cooperate with legislative investigations. Critics argue that such a measure could be misused for political purposes.

Hundreds of demonstrators demonstrated against the bill outside the parliament. “To bring the nation out of 38 years of martial law and establish it as the best democratic nation in Asia, a great deal of work and sacrifice was required. However, as of right now, our parliament is protesting against democracy,” retired Cheng Li-lin stated. “The amendments could turn the parliament into a dictatorial entity.”

Student Lin Pei-ying, 19, expressed support for parliamentary reform but criticized the approach being taken.

On Friday, after the parliamentary fight, DPP supporters quickly mobilized outside the Legislative Yuan to protest the bills and the violence, which local media reported left lawmakers from both the DPP and KMT injured.

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