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Lawmakers brawl as Taiwan’s parliament descends into chaos

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May 17, 2024

Taiwan’s parliament descended into a brawl on Friday as lawmakers disagreed over reforms in the chamber. 

Video of the melee appeared to show punches being thrown, a curtain in the chamber being ripped and a lawmaker who was crawling over other members falling on his head. He was rushed to the hospital. 

The fight came just days before the country’s new President-elect Lai Ching-te is set to take office on Monday with his party in the minority. 

Lai Ching-te is succeeding President Tsai Ing-wen. Lai and Tsai are from the same party, with Lai having served as Tsai’s vice president. 

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Lawmakers were also seen jumping over tables and shoving and tackling colleagues. 

One of the more controversial reforms being voted on was the proposal to levy criminal penalties for officials found to be lying in parliament. 

The DPP has claimed the opposition parties are trying to move through reforms without the proper process in an “an unconstitutional abuse of power.” 

“The DPP does not want this to be passed as they have always been used to monopolizing power,” The KMT’s Jessica Chen, countered to Reuters while wearing a military helmet. 

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This isn’t the first time Taiwan’s occasionally raucous parliament has descended into chaos. In 2020, pig guts were thrown onto the chamber floor during a dispute over pork imports. 

DPP lawmaker Wang Mei-hui told Reuters he is “worried” about parliament staying civil going forward. 

Lai Ching-te’s Democratic Progressive Party won a minority of seats in the chamber, but the main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), doesn’t have a majority on its own so it’s working with the smaller Taiwan People’s Party (TPP). 

The reforms also come at a precarious time in its relationship with China, which sees Taiwan as a Chinese territory, not a sovereign nation. 

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Lai was once a vocal advocate for Taiwan to formerly declare independence in its constitution, although the DPP has shied away from that stance recently, according to Foreign Affairs. 

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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