Taiwan lawmakers brawl over parliament reforms

STORY: ::May 17, 2024

::Taiwan's lawmakers exchange blows over contentious parliamentary reforms

::The opposition wants more power to scrutinize the government

::But lawmakers of the ruling DPP accused them of forcing through proposals without consultation

::Wang Mei-hui / Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker

"Everyone should discuss this more. I also call on the president of parliament to be the president of parliament for all of Taiwan, not just for the Kuomintang. I hope he can be a bridge of communication."

::Taipei, Taiwan

::The brawl comes days before Lai Ching-te takes office as Taiwan's president without a legislative majority

::Jessica Chen / Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker

"If the DPP continues to try and block the voting process, I believe this (scuffles) will happen again and again. So we call on President Lai Ching-te to tell the DPP caucus not to use violence at every turn."

In chaotic scenes, lawmakers surged around the speaker's seat, some leaping over tables and pulling colleagues to the floor. Though calm soon returned, there were more scuffles in the afternoon.

The opposition wants to give parliament greater scrutiny powers over the government, including a controversial proposal to criminalise officials who are deemed to make false statements in parliament.

Main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT) has more seats than the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but not enough to form a majority on its own, and has been working with the small Taiwan People's Party (TPP) to push through its own proposals.

The DPP says the KMT and TPP are improperly trying to force through the proposals without the customary consultation process in what they call "an unconstitutional abuse of power".

Taiwan is a rambunctious democracy and fighting does on occasion take place in parliament. In 2020, KMT lawmakers threw pig guts onto the chamber's floor in a dispute over easing U.S. pork imports.