Taiwan’s Parliament Erupts in Chaos Over Reform Dispute



Taiwanese lawmakers engaged in physical confrontations in parliament on Friday, involving shoving, tackling, and hitting each other. This intense dispute over chamber reforms occurred just days before President-elect Lai Ching-te is set to take office without a legislative majority.

The clashes began even before voting started, with lawmakers yelling and pushing each other outside the legislative chamber. The conflict soon escalated onto the parliament floor, resulting in chaotic scenes where lawmakers crowded around the speaker’s seat, leapt over tables, and pulled colleagues to the ground. Although order was eventually restored, more scuffles erupted in the afternoon.

Lai, who will be inaugurated on Monday, won the presidential election in January. However, his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost its majority in parliament. The main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), now holds more seats than the DPP but not enough to secure a majority. As a result, the KMT has been collaborating with the smaller Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) to advance their shared initiatives.

The opposition is pushing for reforms to enhance parliament’s oversight powers over the government, including a controversial proposal to criminalize officials who make false statements in parliament. The DPP argues that the KMT and TPP are improperly trying to force these proposals through without the customary consultation process, which the DPP describes as “an unconstitutional abuse of power.”

DPP lawmaker Wang Mei-hui, representing the southern city of Chiayi, expressed the party’s stance to Reuters: “Why are we opposed? We want to be able to have discussions, not for there to be only one voice in the country.”

Lawmakers from all three parties were involved in the altercations, each side blaming the other. Jessica Chen of the KMT, representing the Taiwan-administered Kinmen islands near the Chinese coast, defended the reforms, stating they were intended to improve legislative oversight of the executive branch. “The DPP does not want this to be passed as they have always been used to monopolizing power,” she told Reuters, wearing a military-style helmet.

Taiwan, known for its vibrant democracy, occasionally witnesses physical fights in parliament. In 2020, KMT lawmakers infamously threw pig guts onto the chamber floor during a dispute over easing U.S. pork imports. The recent clashes suggest more turmoil and parliamentary conflict might be in store for Lai’s new government once it takes office.

“I am worried,” said the DPP’s Wang, reflecting concerns about future legislative battles.


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